Greater Awareness Is Needed About Violence In the Workplace

Are you the victim of narcissist Abuse at work?

I am a victim of workplace violence. One day, my colleague began to yell at me, denigrated my good character and work product, and demeaned me. It is one thing to be yelled at, but it is quite another to be yelled at with hatred and disdain. I was yelled at with hatred. After, I was given the dreaded silent treatment where my colleague refused to look at me, speak with me, or give me any work. He effectively dried up my pipeline of work. Finally, I was let go from my workplace. I felt like my world had fallen apart, as I could no longer practice the profession (research) that I love with great passion. Also, I felt like it was a loss for the world, as all of my work is focused on thinking about ways to create more sustainable cities.

After, it took me some time to realize that I had been abused. This is quite common as the victim is generally left with feelings of shame and blame. Indeed, emotional and psychological abuse is commonly referred to as “hidden abuse,” as it is insidious and difficult to pinpoint. I often wondered why my colleague delegated his anger towards me when he was very nice and charming with other staff. This is hidden abuse. When I did come to my senses, I asked myself “what can I do?” I started out with the Director, President, and HR staff of the company where I worked and shared my story. They validated my experience. They expressed compassion and understanding. I learned that there is great power invalidation. The act of validation gives voice to the silenced. Validation brings to light to that which is hidden. There is healing when the victim is heard, trusted, and believed.

Next, I wanted to learn if there is any legal action I can take. I learned that there is no general law to protect victims of psychological violence in the workplace. There are federal anti-discrimination laws which prohibit violence in the workplace on the basis of sex, gender identity, race, religion, color, disability, and medical condition. However, if the abuse is not targeted to the victim under a protected status, then there is nothing you can do. This means that the abuser gets a slap on the wrist while the abused is often left with lifelong damage. In my case, I am plagued with what I call the “echo of hatred.” We all yell at one another – one time or another- but the echo of hatred has a life of its own and plagues me often.

The United States lags behind other developed countries when it comes to legislation to protect victims of emotional abuse. In Ireland, for example, there is the Domestic Violence Bill 2017, which includes a clause about “coercive control,” which actually makes emotional abuse a crime. In the UK, there is the “serious crime bill,” which states that anyone who controls another via emotional abuse could face time in jail.

So, given the lack of legislation to protect abuse victims in the United States, what can companies and individuals do to bring awareness about violence in the workplace? First, Companies can create guidelines for hiring and firing to ensure that people are not fired based on the premise of a “personality conflict.” This basically opens the door for abuse and misogyny to take place in the workplace. Next, workplaces can coordinate seminars targeted to staff members with the aim to educate them about appropriate behaviors in the workplace. Finally, companies need anti-bullying policies in place. Victims can submit a complaint to the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), within 6 months after the incident. Victims can write articles to their local newspaper with the aim to ensure that their voices are heard. There are also support groups for those who have experienced narcissist abuse, that you can join. For those who have been abused, have faith, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought into the open.” (Luke 8:17)

Thank you to Ambika Chawla for this excellent read!


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