I am in my 60’s and have experienced bullying and harassment in my workplace over several years, I have also watched helplessly as another person has been bullied and forced to leave. I have been subjected to unfair and unreasonable demands from senior management and feel that a bullying culture is operating at my workplace. Due to the economic climate, general lack of available employment and my age I felt that I couldn’t change my situation. This led to my feeling angry, anxious, depressed, belittled, humiliated, and fearful and has affected my self-esteem and confidence. I reached a point of being in a cycle of going to work taking work home, going to bed and then going back to work. I had no time or space for a life outside this cycle and it was also affecting my family. I went to my doctor and told him I believed I was being bullied and he gave me a leaflet “Bullied? Harassed? Not Sure?”
I telephoned Alison Fox, an anti-bullying counsellor who called me back in two days at an agreed time. The counsellor had trained in the UK but was now working in Jersey; this was important to me and she listened to me pouring out my problems for nearly an hour. She asked some questions but most importantly she listened. She explained what the service was set up to do and about the information and support service.
I cannot exaggerate the fact that this lady listened. Why? because I have found that I couldn’t talk to anyone about being bullied and harassed, unless you are fortunate you run the risk of making matters worse – I couldn’t speak to my employer because they are responsible for the bullying, I couldn’t speak to colleagues or friends as I felt they would think I was strange, weak or odd. I didn’t trust anybody to keep a confidence, because my trust had been abused in the workplace by people who had power over me.
I have continued to be affected by these issues during the time I have seen the counsellor but when I am able to stand back and be objective I can see I have had a truly remarkable experience. I have battled with my workplace, most significantly in the last twelve months and had run out of ideas; I did not know what to do next.
The counsellor has listened to all my experience and taken note, she has not offered me a magic solution but has offered practical advice that I have acted upon. She has listened to me in despair and confusion. I can now see that there is some hope, probably a lot of hope that things can improve.
I have begun to rationalise my problems and I have been given homework to do for the following week (about ten minutes a day), and given suggestions on how to improve my situation and to take care of myself. This has improved how I feel and think without necessarily changing the circumstances at work which are causing the problem.
The procedure is straight forward and at my first meeting the counsellor assessed me to see if what she offers could help me and to see if the services were appropriate for my needs. Once it was agreed that it was possible for them to help, confidentiality was explained and the points of reference, none of these should worry most people. I have been able to attend outside of my usual office hours, which significantly helped me because I could not have attended during working hours – seeking help during office hours or even going to see my GP creates more problems within my workplace.
The administration of the service is seamless and there has never been a problem with appointment times or venue, which is in town but not in an obvious location, it is private and formal but friendly. I was advised that my counsellor would not acknowledge knowing me if our paths crossed outside the counselling room, to preserve confidentiality. All of these things helped to make me feel safe and I felt I could trust her. This is a unique service and deserves much praise; unfortunately I believe that bullying is likely to be around for a long time. I had said to myself ‘if only there was someone I could talk to’ whilst I have been bullied & harassed. There is now which should provide some hope to many.