Group Bullying
What is bullying?

constant nit-picking, fault-finding and criticism of a trivial nature - the triviality, regularity and frequency betray bullying; often there is a grain of truth (but only a grain) in the criticism to fool you into believing the criticism has validity, which it does not; often, the criticism is based on distortion, misrepresentation or fabrication

simultaneous with the criticism, a constant refusal to acknowledge you and your contributions and achievements or to recognise your existence and value

constant attempts to undermine you and your position, status, worth, value and potential

where you are in a group (eg at work), being singled out and treated differently; for instance, everyone else can get away with murder but the moment you put a foot wrong - however trivial - action is taken against you

being isolated and separated from colleagues, excluded from what's going on, marginalized, overruled, ignored, sidelined, frozen out, sent to Coventry

being belittled, demeaned and patronised, especially in front of others

being humiliated, shouted at and threatened, often in front of others

being overloaded with work, or having all your work taken away and replaced with either menial tasks (filing, photocopying, minute taking) or with no work at all

finding that your work - and the credit for it - is stolen and plagiarised

having your responsibility increased but your authority taken away

having annual leave, sickness leave, and - especially - compassionate leave refused

being denied training necessary for you to fulfil your duties

having unrealistic goals set, which change as you approach them

ditto deadlines which are changed at short notice - or no notice - and without you being informed until it's too late

finding that everything you say and do is twisted, distorted and misrepresented

being subjected to disciplinary procedures with verbal or written warnings imposed for trivial or fabricated reasons and without proper investigation

being coerced into leaving through no fault of your own, constructive dismissal, early or ill-health retirement, etc

"Why don't you stand up for yourself?" is an oft-asked question. We're adults, aren't we?

In most cases, the bullying follows a two-phase procedure:

Phase one is control which is exercised through constant trivial daily nit-picking criticism etc. Eventually there's a defining moment when the target realises that the criticisms have no validity and that they constitute bullying; the target asserts their right not to be bullied, perhaps by initiating a grievance, and the bullying moves into phase two: elimination, which is achieved by dismissal on false charges, ill-health retirement, forced resignation, redundancy, or death from suicide or heart attack due to prolonged negative stress.

The reasons people don't assert their right not to be bullied are complex as the following list shows (all the fears are justified):

the target of bullying has been disempowered through isolation and exclusion and the manipulation of co-workers and management's perceptions

the bully is constantly threatening and intimidating the target and co-workers

there is a climate of dysfunction and fear in which people are frightened to assert their rights

the target now has artificially high levels of shame, embarrassment, fear and guilt - all stimulated by the bully, for this is how all abusers control their victims

the target feels bewildered and often still cannot believe that what is happening is happening; the target feels responsible in some way, as evidenced by the nagging thoughts "Why me?" and "Why did I let it happen to me?"

the target fears for loss of their job

the target fears they will be unable to obtain a reference (this is especially true in the professions) and the bully never misses an opportunity to strike at their target, even after the target has left; being asked for a reference is an ideal opportunity to bad-mouth their target

if you take your employer to an employment tribunal you're obviously a troublemaker and no employer will take the risk employing you - despite the fact that you did nothing wrong

there is no law against bullying and the laws that do exist are difficult to apply to bullying

real jobs are scarce and if you're over 40 and in a permanent full-time position the chances of obtaining another permanent full-time position are slim (the government likes to give the impression that there are under one million people unemployed in the UK but the figure quoted is the number of people who qualify for jobseekers allowance - the number of people aged between 18-65 without a job is between 4-6 million)

by this time the target is suffering a severe psychiatric injury, is traumatised and unable to articulate their circumstances - whilst the bully remains glib and plausible

trauma and fear combine to prevent the target from being able to find the right words to identify, unmask and call to account their tormentor

when the symptoms of psychiatric injury start to appear the bully plays the mental health trap, claiming this person "has a mental health problem"

the target has no knowledge of serial bullies, sociopaths, etc, and no experience of dealing with these characters

the bully relies on compulsive lying, Jekyll & Hyde nature, deception, deviousness, evasiveness and charm and uses denial, counter-attack, projection and feigning victimhood to evade accountability Charm has a motive - deception.

the serial bully abuses power, exhibits amoral behaviour and lacks conscience and remorse

there's a lot of ignorance and unenlightenedness about bullying

the silence is deafening

denial is everywhere

disbelief is prevalent too - the target fears that no-one will believe them and even the target eventually questions their belief that this is happening, especially as the bully persistently and plausibly denies everything

bullies are encouraged and rewarded, often by promotion

cases that are settled are subject to gagging clauses

in many cases unions are unhelpful; in some cases the union is part of the problem

the target doesn't want to have "stress" on their health record

the target doesn't want to get others into trouble and is reluctant to initiate a grievance against a fellow human being
the target naively believes that the system is there to protect them and will work for them (it isn't and it doesn't)

the target naively believes that their loyalty and good service record will stand them in good stead (it won't and the employer is likely to ignore and dismiss it)

the target naively believes that Human Resources and personnel are there to protect employees

grievance procedures are notoriously useless for dealing with bullying, as the manager, with whom the grievance is normally conducted, is often the bully - or is supporting the bully, either by colluding (active support), or by refusing and failing to deal with the bully (passive support)

even if another manager handles the grievance, he or she is usually connected with the bully in some way

bullying is a betrayal; the target trusted and depended on the integrity of another (eg manager) and that person betrayed them; the target fears and anticipates that when they report the bullying, they will be betrayed again (they often are)
those in authority did nothing to prevent the bullying while it was happening, nor did they do anything subsequently; very often it is the person in the position of authority who is the bully; trust in authority is low, with justification

bullying is a form of psychological rape because of its intrusive and violational nature

the target felt and continues to feel guilty about what happened, having been encouraged by the bully to believe they were responsible

the target may have been encouraged to withdraw from legal action by the bully feigning victimhood and playing on their target's forgiving chord and manipulating other people's sympathies

Bullying causes injury to health and makes you ill. How many of these symptoms do you have?

constant high levels of stress and anxiety

frequent illness such as viral infections especially flu and glandular fever, colds, coughs, chest, ear, nose and throat infections (stress plays havoc with your immune system)

aches and pains in the joints and muscles with no obvious cause; also back pain with no obvious cause and which won't go away or respond to treatment

headaches and migraines

tiredness, exhaustion, constant fatigue

sleeplessness, nightmares, waking early, waking up more tired than when you went to bed

flashbacks and replays, obsessiveness, can't get the bullying out of your mind

irritable bowel syndrome

skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, athlete's foot, ulcers, shingles, urticaria

poor concentration, can't concentrate on anything for long

bad or intermittently-functioning memory, forgetfulness, especially with trivial day-to-day things

sweating, trembling, shaking, palpitations, panic attacks

tearfulness, bursting into tears regularly and over trivial things

uncharacteristic irritability and angry outbursts

hypervigilance (feels like but is not paranoia), being constantly on edge

hypersensitivity, fragility, isolation, withdrawal

reactive depression, a feeling of woebegoneness, lethargy, hopelessness, anger, futility and more

shattered self-confidence, low self-worth, low self-esteem, loss of self-love, etc