The Only Way to Stop A Serial Bully is Exposure

"Perpetrators and Targets

Over 80 per cent of bullies are bosses, some are co-workers and a minority bully higher-ups. A bully is equally likely to be a man or a woman.
The common stereotype of a bullied person is someone who is weak, an oddball or a loner. On the contrary, the target chosen by an adult bully will very often be a capable, dedicated staff member, well liked by co-workers. Bullies are most likely to pick on people with an ability to cooperate and a non-confrontative interpersonal style. The bully considers their capability a threat, and determines to cut them down.

Profile of a Bully

Adult bullies, like their schoolyard counterparts, tend to be insecure people with poor or non-existent social skills and little empathy. They turn this insecurity outwards, finding satisfaction in their ability to attack and diminish the capable people around them.
A workplace bully subjects the target to unjustified criticism and trivial fault-finding. In addition, he or she humiliates the target, especially in front of others, and ignores, overrules, isolates and excludes the target.
If the bully is the target's superior, he or she may: set the target up for failure by setting unrealistic goals or deadlines, or denying necessary information and resources; either overload the target with work or take all work away (sometimes replacing proper work with demeaning jobs); or increase responsibility while removing authority.
Regardless of specific tactics, the intimidation is driven by the bully's need to control others.

The Burden of Bullying

Bullied employees waste between 10 and 52 per cent of their time at work. Research shows they spend time defending themselves and networking for support, thinking about the situation, being demotivated and stressed, not to mention taking sick leave due to stress-related illnesses.
Bullies poison their working environment with low morale, fear, anger, and depression. The employer pays for this in lost efficiency, absenteeism, high staff turnover, severance packages and law suits. In extreme cases, a violent incident may be the tragic outcome.
The target's family and friends also suffer the results of daily stress and eventual breakdown. Marriages suffer or are destroyed under the pressure of the target's anxiety and anger. Friendships cool because the bullied employee becomes obsessive about the situation.
Moreover, our health care system ends up repairing the damage: visits to the doctor for symptoms of stress, prescriptions for antidepressants, and long term counseling or psychiatric care. In this sense, we all pay.


Workplace bullies create a tremendous liability for the employer by causing stress-related health and safety problems, and driving good employees out of the organization.
The business case for strict anti-bullying policies is compelling. Potential benefits include a more peaceful and productive workplace, with better decision making, less time lost to sick leave or self-defensive paperwork, higher staff retention, and a lower risk of legal action."(from the Canada safety counsel)

Psychiatric injury

"Over time, the symptoms described above result in psychiatric injury, which is not a mental illness. Despite superficial similarity, and comments (both direct and implied) from those around you, there are many distinct differences between psychiatric injury and mental illness including
a) mental illness is assumed to be inherent (internal) whereas psychiatric injury is caused by something or someone else (external) - who is liable;b) an injury is likely to get better; c) the person suffering mental illness exhibits a range of symptoms associated with mental illness (paranoia, schizophrenia, delusions, etc) but not with psychiatric injury, whereas the person suffering psychiatric injury will typically exhibit a range of symptoms (eg hypervigilance, hypersensitivity, obsessiveness, irritability, fatigue, sleeplessness) associated with psychiatric injury but not with mental illness."

Reactive depression

"One of the symptoms of psychiatric injury is reactive depression - it is a reaction to an external event. My understanding is that the chemistry of reactive depression is different to clinical or endogenous depression (which is associated with mental illness)."(From http://www.bullyonline.org/)
This all leads to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is the result of being in a traumatic situation with the element of being trapped such as working in a village like Nome at Norton Sound Health Corporation when there is nowhere else to go. I will discuss this further in another post.

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