Bothell Christian Counseling Blog

Trauma in the Workplace: Bullying and Abuse

Posted June 20th, 2017 in Anxiety, Featured, Individual Counseling, Trauma, Uncategorized

A client came to me a while ago and asked me if I had heard the term “workplace mobbing.” I had not, but she had some articles to explain what it was because she had been a victim of workplace bullying.

Mobbing is described by Andrea Adams and Tim Field as “an emotional assault. It begins when an individual becomes the target of disrespectful and harmful behavior,” and continues until that person is so psychologically and emotionally damaged that they are forced to leave. The psychological damage is incalculable, and some victims never recover.

Mobs have been around for centuries – it was a mob who called for the crucifixion of Christ, and mobs who have created havoc for societies for as far back as we have human memory.  So when we talk about “mobbing” we are referring to a mob-like mentality led by bullies.

If someone in the workplace decides that another person needs to go, they often enlist others to help them bully and abuse the victim to the point where that person has no choice but to leave the company.

Mobbing doesn’t just happen to those workers who are unproductive or unpopular. It can also happen to exceptional individuals who are perceived as a threat to someone else.

In the 70’s, Peter-Paul Heinemann applied the concept of mobbing (workplace bullying) to a child facing aggression by a group of children. In the 80’s, Heinz Leymann applied the term “mobbing” to an individual being ganged-up on in the workplace.

Mobbing is an emotional assault on another individual. The individual becomes the target of malicious and harmful behaviors by others as a deliberate attempt to force him or her out of the workplace through humiliation, harassment and emotional abuse.

Mobbing of an individual occurs on a frequent basis and over a long period of time – at least six months or more. It creates a mental strain on the victim trying to navigate through this environment and is often led by a supervisor or manager, which makes it even more difficult for the individual.

Professor Kenneth Westhues, in his article entitled “At the Mercy of the Mob: A Summary of Research on Workplace Mobbing,” says that “Mobbing can be understood as the stressor to beat all stressors. It is an impassioned, collective campaign by co-workers to exclude, punish, and humiliate a targeted worker.”  These workplace bullies are very good at convincing others that the target is deserving of the treatment, and will enlist others to join in. Eventually, the victim will become too exhausted to continue working in this environment and will be forced out.

As a result, victims of workplace bullying often suffer from mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder. They experience anxiety and depression, which sometimes lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. When the bully is the boss or a group of coworkers, a victim is often as traumatized as someone who has been in a war zone. We tend to think of post-traumatic stress as belonging to those who have been to war, or first responders to tragedies, or people who have suffered physical or sexual abuse by someone, but workplace bullying also falls into this category.

They are often forced out of their chosen professions, and as a consequence suffer from anxiety, depression, physical illnesses, and other disorders – including post-traumatic stress.

These individuals have lost their reputation, their identity, and their job or career.

In the United States, approximately one third of employees report having been bullied. And, sad to say, according to a study by a group named Workplace Bullying Institute, it is particularly common in female dominated professions.  The vast majority of targets are women, often by women. Also, it rarely happens to someone who is able to easily find employment elsewhere. Thankfully, mobbing is relatively rare, but one estimate says that between 2 and 5 percent of adults are mobbed during their working lives.

If this has happened to you and you have been forced to leave a job or career, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress. Not all people who have been victimized in the workplace develop post-traumatic stress, but some do. If you find yourself having flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, or other symptoms, there is help.

For more information, please contact me at Seattle Christian Counseling.  I’d be happy to help.

 

Photos
“Rainbow in a Storm,” courtesy of Pacheco, Flickr Creative Commons 2.0; “Tunnel,” courtesy of darkday, Flickr Creative Commons 2.0; “Goat Island,” courtesy of Alistair Paterson, Flickr Creative Commons 2.0; “Rainbow from Pima Point,” courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park, Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

What is chemical dependency? Perspectives from a Christian counselor

Posted June 12th, 2017 in Chemical Dependency, Individual Counseling, Men's Issues, Uncategorized

I was recently speaking at an event for marriage and family therapy students and emerging professionals. It was the kind of event where students could […]

Read More >>

Relaxation Technique for Anxiety

Posted May 16th, 2017 in Anxiety, Featured, Individual Counseling, Women's Issue

You may have a hard time relaxing during a stressful work day, or maybe you wake up anxious and stressed out. Whatever the case may […]

Read More >>

Tips for Stay-at-Home and Working Moms

Posted May 12th, 2017 in Family Counseling, Featured, Individual Counseling, Women's Issue

Are you a stay-at-home or working mom? If so, then this video is for you! I will share tips with you on how to build […]

Read More >>

The 10 Most Common Types Of Trauma Defined

Posted May 9th, 2017 in Featured, Individual Counseling, Men's Issues, Trauma, Women's Issue

All of us have experienced some form of trauma in our lives – from schoolyard bullying to moments we wish hadn’t happened when we were […]

Read More >>

Dads and Daughters: The Special Bond that Connects Them

Posted April 19th, 2017 in Christian Counseling for Children, Christian Counseling For Teens, Family Counseling, Featured, Men's Issues

“I’m softer. I feel more concern about the world because of my daughter growing up in it. I’m more aware of my surroundings, negative things […]

Read More >>

How Can I Know if I’ve Suffered a Real Traumatic Experience?

Posted April 18th, 2017 in Anxiety, Featured, Individual Counseling, Trauma

We hear so much about trauma these days. Almost everyone has had some sort of traumatic event in their lives at one time or another. […]

Read More >>

4 Ways a Child Counselor Can Turn Your Child’s Frown Upside Down

Posted April 18th, 2017 in Christian Counseling for Children, Family Counseling, Featured

Hello there! If you’ve found your way here, you’re probably looking for some support for your little one at home. Maybe there are some behavioral […]

Read More >>

How to Build Behavior and Emotional Awareness in Relationships

Posted April 17th, 2017 in Couples Counseling, Featured, Marriage Counseling, Relationship Issues

My last article introduced the effort to notice patterns and clues that a conversation has turned crucial, and especially to notice when the conversation is […]

Read More >>

Common Problems in Relationships: Lack of Body Awareness

Posted April 11th, 2017 in Couples Counseling, Featured, Marriage Counseling, Relationship Issues

In this article, we will discuss how a lack of body awareness is one of the common problems in relationships. What does this mean? Read […]

Read More >>