Harmful

'Trapped, helpless, and terrified': Workplace bullying takes a toll

Harmful

image of women with head in hands in empty dark corridor

What is the impact of workplace bullying?


Published 27 July 2022 at 4:13pm
By Maram Ismail
Presented by Rae Johnston
Source: SBS

As a public healthcare worker, Lucy never imagined she could be a victim of workplace bullying. Paula faced years of abuse, harassment and even death threats working in the mining industry. In this episode of the podcast ‘Harmful’, hear two women’s shocking experiences of workplace bullying and how it lead to long lasting psychological harm. Recognising bullying behaviours early is important in minimising health risks. But it isn't always easy to get help. Without organisational support individuals are often left feeling trapped in toxic situations.


Published 27 July 2022 at 4:13pm
By Maram Ismail
Presented by Rae Johnston
Source: SBS


Bullying, discrimination, mobbing, abuse. It can be difficult to make sense of the terminology, but the impact is clear. For those who've experienced workplace bullying the damage can last for years. 

My whole body felt like it was on fire... the nausea, the pain, the sleepless nights, the triggers, the waking up sweating... you name it.
          Lucy

Advertisement
Workplace bullying prevention specialist Michael Plowright defines bullying as repeated unreasonable and sabotaging behaviours, often perpetrated by people in positions of power. 

Lucy had spent many years successfully building a career in the healthcare sector before she experienced bullying in a new role. Targeted by management in a workplace culture that was hostile to newcomers, Lucy was routinely subjected to degrading treatment and humiliation. She tried to raise the issue with HR but they were unsupportive.

When an employee doesn't have power and control then the only thing that can protect them is the organisation. The key for them is to build positive cultures that allow people to raise problems and concerns.
          Michael Plowright

After many years the union became involved and other employees felt empowered to stand up for Lucy. But the damage had been done, and ultimately Lucy left the role and changed careers. 

Paula also experienced bullying when working in the mining sector, but felt trapped financially in the role. 

I was a single parent and needed the income... I couldn't pack up my children and move them to where there were more opportunities for me... they were settled in school, I didn't want to disrupt their lives.
Workplace bullying issues can take a long time to resolve, especially if the organisation isn't cooperative. In Michael's experience it can take years to get to an appropriate working solution. This leaves bullying victims facing the tough decision whether to stay or leave, considering what's in their best interest from a health point of view. Lucy and Paula are still recovering from their experiences and offer simple advice to anyone facing workplace bullying

If you find yourself somewhere that you're being bullied, get the hell out of there. No matter what the cost, get out.
If you or someone you know need mental health support, you can call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or visit . Lifeline provides crisis support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all ages. Call 13 11 14.

LISTEN TO
harmful_episode_1_-_workplace_bullying_mastered_to_-16lufs.mp3 image

As a public healthcare worker, Lucy never imagined she could be a victim of workplace bullying. Paula faced years of abuse, harassment and even death threats working in the mining industry. In this episode of the podcast ‘Harmful’, hear two women’s shocking experiences of workplace bullying and how it lead to long lasting psychological harm. Recognising bullying behaviours early is important in minimising health risks. But it isn't always easy to get help. Without organisational support individuals are often left feeling trapped in toxic situations.

SBS English

27/07/202225:33


is a six-part SBS podcast series that asks how we can better tackle bullying in our schools, workplaces and online. Hear personal testimonies that reveal what motivates bullies, what support victims need, and what it takes to heal. 

Follow  in the , at , or in your favourite podcast app.

Harmful is hosted by Wiradjuri woman and Science and Technology journalist Rae Johnston, and produced by Maram Ismail from SBS Arabic24.

 



Share