By Robyn Kieseker & Teresa Marchant:
Workplace bullying has psychological health effects and costs for the victims. These effects include: feelings of helplessness and isolation, withdrawal, fear of being labeled as a troublemaker, fear of dismissal or loss of job promotion opportunities, fear of being transferred to dead-end or mundane jobs, anxiety, feelings of self-blame, suicide, stress, nervous breakdown, depression, loss of appetite, eating disorders, reliance on medication, increased drinking, smoking, insomnia, fatigue, lack of concentration, headaches, nausea, backaches, stomach aches, infections and other illnesses, ill health or early retirement due to stress related illness, low morale, low self-esteem, poor job performance, absenteeism, physical violence to others, and additional impacts on victims’ family life and
relationships (Alderman 1997; Beasley & Rayner 1997; Hindell 1997; MacLeod 1996; Mendelson 1990; Overell 1995; Queensland Nurse 1998; Spiers 1996).
From the New Zealand Herald:
Bullying is set to become a crime for the first time in Australia as concern grows at the rise of abuse that has destroyed lives and driven workers and teenagers to suicide.
Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark is expected to introduce amendments to stalking laws in the state Parliament tomorrow, placing workplace and cyber bullying under the Crimes Act.
The new legislation will provide penalties of up to 10 years' jail.
It follows the 2006 suicide of 19-year-old cafe worker Brodie Panlock, who was subjected to "merciless" bullying by four colleagues at Melbourne's Cafe Vamp.
This is certainly a different attitude about workplace bullying than our legislators, court systems and mental health professionals have. Workplace bullying is a very serious act which should be considered a serious crime. It destroys lives, takes highly skilled, highly educated people from the workforce and wastes resources. It also has a negative effect on those who observe it in the workplace. So far in the United States there has been no success in the many states where legislation has been introduced. Of course not, corporations are in charge of everything, they will never allow these laws to be passed as long as they are in control. Now that the Koch brothers and others put in place multitudes of useless legislators who could care less about the workers of this country I expect the situation to get much worse.
That is why in places like Alaska where especially in the rural areas workplace bullying is epidemic the victim is the one who is charged with a crime. I was bullied until I had a nervous breakdown at a hospital where workplace bullying had been going on for years and many lives had already been destroyed long before I showed up. In their eyes my main crime was having the audacity to speak up against dangerous policies and practices along with concerns about corruption and incompetence. While the bullying was ongoing I tried to see a psychiatrist five times to sort out what was happening to me and he refused to see me. The bullying was done by mostly nurses and some doctors, just to give you an idea of the level of compassion at this hospital.
I then did something I don’t even remember associated with a suicide plan. Rather than being given psychiatric care and trying to fix the problems at the hospital which is what would have happened in most states, I was arrested and charged with several felonies. Several people told me not to worry because it would be insane for the prosecutor to indict me. I told them the serial bullies at the hospital were in control in that village and would make sure I was prosecuted to the full extend and in fact were lying to insure this. Workplace bullies are well known for lying, BTW. I was then prevented by a practicing alcoholic public defender, along with her supervisors, and the judge from going somewhere to get help for the PTSD. This was a bush town with very poor mental health practitioners. I was medically bullied when I tried to get help as the clinic associated with this same hospital. The medical bullying was so bad that when I broke my foot I set the bone myself. This all compounded the PTSD exponentially.
I was lied to by especially the public defender agency that I could not leave this village. I was harassed by the police, bullied in public places by the two primary workplace bullies, (especially one of them), I was not given court dates(in an attempt to have an excuse to incarcerate me), Sarah Palin appointed a woman to run the board of nursing who was not supportive of nurses (after the first supportive one insured me they would support me), all of the so called friends I had at the hospital essentially abandoned me, my mail was opened at the post office (only certain types of mail which indicated someone fishing for information and one of the postal employees was friends with at least one of the serial bullies), the local newspaper aka rag, wrote false articles about the incident (and is friends with the judge’s wife) fueled by workplace bully and DOL lies, and I received death threats by telephone.
Later I was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned by the combination of malice and incompetence of the public defender agency, local law enforcement, the department of law, and two judges. Some have suggested it may have been a well orchestrated plan due to the multiple factors of incompetence involved, but since the level of incompetence in Alaska is very high it is hard for me to judge this. While incarcerated my medication was dangerously, abruptly withdrawn. I was bullied and harassed by corrections officers ( as well as a doctor, mid-level, and multiple very frightening bullying and in one case obviously impaired nurses), my civil rights were violated, and my safety was certainly threatened. After having a second nervous breakdown I was placed in solitary confinement similar to Bradley Manning’s situation in a mental health unit that I can only describe as some kind of medieval torture chamber where I observed many horrors, including a woman being chained to the floor. She was clearly very mentally ill and they were not giving her the medication that she begged them for day and night, “Please give me my….my mind is going crazy”. They tried to put me in administrative segregation (solitary confinement) for filing grievances which were never responded to other than threats and anger. When this attempt failed they put me in a cell with a violent psychotic woman at the far side of the unit, I am convinced they were hoping she would hurt me. This would give anyone PTSD, but since I was already very ill with it, it made me extraordinarily ill.
I have lost the ability to work which I managed to continue to do for over two decades with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in the past. I am on Social Security which is difficult to live on and have been homeless several times since all of this began. This also makes the PTSD worse and has made some other health problems much worse. I have a felony charge on my record as well as all the other multiple charges along with even the false and completely manufactured charge out of Homer for everyone to view on the Alaska states court records. If I had been in one of the more competent and enlightened states, first of all I could have complained about the problems at the hospital to agencies and actually gotten a response. They would have looked at the incident that occurred and realized the workplace bullying was severe and I would have not been charged with a crime. There would have certainly been experts, including some from the board of nursing that would have been on my side in most states, they would have assisted me to go back to work if at all possible. The hospital would have been forced to do something about the situation to prevent others from being harmed.
Remember we have had shootings secondary to workplace bullying in Alaska and the powers that be continue to totally blame the targets who had become suicidal. One of the manifestations of suicidal ideation is murder-suicide. Individuals may target their torturers when they become suicidal. We see this also in other types of bullying, as in domestic violence, school shootings by kids who were bullied or the radicalization of those who were tortured who then become terrorists.
What happens in the United States and which is worse in the more backwards states is the victim or target of the bullying is blamed because of the illogical blaming and meanness embedded in our culture. We certainly have recently seen this from the new crop of right wing assbackwards agenda legislators who seek to punish the unemployed, poor, disabled and elderly for our economic problems when they are not the ones in control nor are they the cause. Those who caused the recession and deficit are going completely unpunished, except for very rare cases and most of them have been wildly rewarded. It is very similar to blaming women who are raped. This attitude will be maintained and is only going to get worse because workplace bullying is a tool used by corporations who are a magnet for those who are selfish and have no conscience. Adding unemployment and the obvious creation of low paying jobs and the attacks on unions to the mix I doubt very seriously the United States will take any serious action against workplace bullying.