Thank you Sherry Benson-Podolchuk for your contribution to our site, it is a great read!
How did I get into this mess?
The excitement of a new job that turns into a nightmare. We are social creatures, we want to belong or feel included in the workplace. Sometimes that can become a traumatic experience when dealing with people who have narcissistic behaviours. We can miss the clues. Workplace violence happens in stages, just like domestic violence. Often people who have been in abusive work situations look back in time and ask themselves ‘how did I get into this mess?
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It has been nine years since I retired from the RCMP. It had been a long 20 year struggle of dealing with sexual harassment, workplace bullying and conflicts. Working with people who truly believed that they had the right to be abusive. It only takes one person to ruin a workplace if there is ineffective leadership and no one stops them. Victims slowly lose their voice.
Most people who are targets of bullying and dealing with similar workplaces believe they are alone. It took a few years before I decided to take back my power, find my voice and speak up. Looking back from today, during this struggle there were whispers across Canada of bullying and harassment in the RCMP but no one had publicly come forward. It started at my first detachment with name calling and no one was willing to help.
Speaking up was unheard of and many remained silent in their suffering. If no one says anything, when management fails to hold a narcissist accountable, then the violence continues and escalates and nothing changes. People suffer and so does the business.
We are who we are from life experiences. We learn the greatest lessons from the people and situations that challenge us the most. We have choices in life on how we react and respond. Creating our own self-care tool kit was key to finding my voice, the path to empowerment and happiness. Remember the only person you can change is you, the only person you can make happy is you. Everyone will have a tool kit that fits with who they are and what they like. For example, painting my nails was a small thing yet it gave me the strength to go back and face another day in the workplace. Other tools could be having hobbies that make you feel good about yourself, painting, gardening, comfort movies, cutting grass, fishing, hanging out with positive people, going back to school, watching funny movies, trying some form of fitness is good for both your physical and mental health. Use your imagination.
People ask, ‘are you angry, resentful?’ The answer is usually a surprise, ‘no I am not angry or resentful’. Finding our voice and moving forward means we are no longer stuck in that pain. Do we have scars? Yes. Our scars remind us where we have been but do not have to define our future.
Life today is beautiful! As a professional consultant and speaker and taking those negative events in life and making the active choice to not let pain hold us back. Sharing the lessons so that others do not have to suffer. Do we have triggers? Yes, if we recognize what these triggers are then we can actively make the choice in how we react.
Looking back from today I am thankful for the 20 years. I am who I am today because of those experiences. The greatest lesson is learning to value who you are, the power of your voice is empowering and being responsible for our own happiness is the best gift. Believe in your truth and power of your voice.
- Sherry Benson-Podolchuk is a retired police officer with Canada’s National police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and author of WOMEN NOT WANTED, about her 20 year career and how she dealt with workplace conflict, bullying and harassment. Since retiring she works as a speaker and consultant focusing on workplace conflict and helping others ‘find their voice’. She is frequently called upon as a subject matter expert by media and government agencies. She was part of two Federal government committees focusing on sexual harassment in the workplace and provided testimony and recommendations for changes. In 2015 Sherry presented at TEDx Winnipeg on ‘Tools to survive workplace bullying’. Helping victims survive and also thrive. In November 2017, she received the Canada 150 Senate Medal from Senator Grant Mitchell, for her continued efforts at helping others speak up about harassment and mental health.Sherry is part of the upcoming Documentary that focuses on ‘Pushing back on bullying’ by John Walker a Canadian and International Film director to be released in 2018.