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On Bullying by Joanna Watt

I was in my 30th year of Nursing when I was targeted for workplace bullying. As a result I have lost 30 years of my life and hard work towards an advanced education in Nursing.

My references were always excellent. I worked hard, consistently, and was committed to advocating for the patient. I followed the rules of the employer and my profession. I practiced in an honorable fashion.

I was actively recruited to the position because of my experience and skill set. I was sold on a clinic that was going to afford me increased autonomy, program development and expansion, and an increasingly advanced clinical role.

However, unbeknownst to me, the clinic had a long history of toxicity and bullying. I had known idea that there was such a thing as workplace bullying as I’d never encountered it. It wasn’t until after I was suffering from PTSD and a major depressive disorder that I became aware of what workplace bullying and psychological violence was. I was searching and researching trying to understand how this could happen to me. I also tried to understand how a large health care corporation would allow this to happen, and not only that, would defend the bullies. The more I sought accountability and transparency around what was done to me, the more there was pushback and silencing.

I believe that a lot of targets of bullying would say that finding a word or words to name what is happening to you is a major part of our struggle. We who are trained in civility, respect, transparency, and humanitarian roles are stunned when we are attacked. How can this be? We are stunned by the discrepancy between what our targets say we are, and who we know ourselves to be. Corporations that will NOT uphold their mission, vision and values and policy and procedure flabbergast us. We think that if we could only explain the situation, people will understand, we can clear our name, our good character, our feelings of shame, and everything will return to “Normal”. However, this is not the case. The more we try to rectify the lies against us, the more we are targeted.

Those in corporate Ethics, HR and OH&S, who we believe will protect us, turn into executioners. They execute the efforts of the bullies. We become powerless to effect change. There is a double whammy when a union does not represent you. Without legal counsel, and without protection by the Labor Board, and Governmental departments dealing with workplace bullying, you are alone. Interestingly, despite the rhetoric the government posts on their web sites, you will most likely be told that your psychological injury due to workplace bullying is “not within their prevue. Your co-workers soon stop contacting you, if they ever did. You are so very alone.

After 4 months on sick leave, I asked my Doctor to refer me to counseling. I was not improving, I was having suicidal thoughts, and my employer was not willing to own up to the bullying. I thought my life was over. I was referred to Dr. Robyn Mott, and that connection has saved my life.

Dr. Mott’s experience in Trauma, and Psychological Violence was able to help me identify the bullying for what it was…violence in the workplace. I was able to understand feelings of shame related to being accused falsely, and realize that this was not mine to bear. I could eventually see how I did not invite, promote nor was responsible for the psychological violence, and that in fact, the violence reflected the perpetrators psyche, and their own self assessment. Her experience also was able to shed light on the reality that I was once of many who were suffering at the hands of my employer.

Dr Mott has a caring, non-judgmental way of helping us articulate our experience, and understand it for what it is. It is not our shame, but the toxicity and violence that exist in our places of employment. The employer wants to maintain the optics of civility and respect through advertising, policies, and published values, but it is in their behavior toward psychological (bullying, lateral violence) that the real truth is made known.

Dr. Mott helped me view the psychological violence I experienced from the lens of someone who has “been there”. Her experience with thousands of clients allows her to frame workplace bullying and psychological violence for what it is…cold, calculated and dehumanizing. At the same time she helps us rebuild our sense of place and contribution to our world, and start thinking about how we are so much more than a “job”, and that its so important not to let toxic people and workplaces define who we are.

I am still struggling with depression, and I’ll never be the person I once was. My life has become much less busy. I’ll not return to Nursing due to the effects of defamation and discrimination by my peers. I refuse to spend my life explaining what I didn’t do. It’s interesting how lies stick.

I am much more accepting of myself. But most of all, I’ve become a fierce advocate for those who are bullied, and work to help change our employment laws so that every one is treated with respect and civility in the workplace. Workplace bullying is wrong. YOU ARE NOT WRONG.

Dr. Mott can help you find the answers you need, using a variety of tools and methods. Your experience with Dr. Mott will be personalized and very individual. Dr Mott has counseled me for 9 years now. Over this time our chats have become further apart, but she is always willing to provide a tweak now and then when I face a roadblock.

Dr. Mott was essential to my recovery, and rediscovering my whole self, and not just the “worker” me. For anyone facing workplace bullying and psychological trauma, I highly recommend Dr. Robyn Mott.

Joanne Watt BSc.N, MN, PHCNP, CAPO

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