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The Costs of Mobbing – From One Who Knows

Dec 16

On this auspicious day, I reflect on where I have come since I was unceremoniously released from my career trajectory over a decade ago. I look at the myriad failures and some meager successes that I have come to amass in that time. And I wonder if anyone in that scenario would do anything differently had they had the wisdom and foresight to know then what they know now.

My jaded and cynical response given the current situation in the Force is “not bloody likely.”  Mobbing takes a hell of a toll on its victims. Studies by Leymann and others have indicated that many mobbing victims often never return to work or have difficulty retaining employment. As one who suffers from this, I can tell you firsthand that it changes your whole perspective on your job, your performance and abilities, not to mention your self-worth.

Personality changes are often persistent with mobbing victims. To say that we hold a deep sense of paranoia and fear would be pretty accurate. I spend a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop because that is what mobbing has taught me: no matter how well you do or how suited to your job you are, if someone wants you gone, you’re gone. It’s a pretty sick thought to live with. And speaking of sick, mobbing victims likely spend a lot of time in therapy and on meds. They’ll suffer from adjustment disorders, can be diagnosed with everything from severe clinical depression to PTSD and a host of other co-morbid somatic issues. You’ll have to avoid things that will trigger memories or episodes, which in many cases may play out as avoidance of places, people and even common things that one cannot avoid in a workplace such as conflict. Yes, the way you deal with conflict will likely change. The most common poses that I have seen from people are turtle (you simply avoid, cover up and suffer quietly through it) or dragon (lashing out and becoming defensive or even hostile). Neither are very becoming in the workplace.

And then, of course, comes the issue of finding new work if the old job is lost  for those who have escaped, you will know this well. Your issues now become the issues of your new employer. It is they who will bear the costs for your mental health issues caused by colleagues and superiors in your former employ. The more time you take, the greater risk you become to them as well, both in lost time and in resource costs to cover treatments, prescriptions, etc. and finding someone who understands your plight, may be difficult. Or, it may open you up to scrutiny. So, be very careful what you share and with whom.
Some folks who have had the extreme may go to the extreme: substance abuse or other addictions (sex is a common one for folks who have been mobbed, I find). Heinz Leymann found that 15% of suicides in Sweden could be attributed to mobbing. If the pressure ever gets that far, you know that you have reached a point of no return. Been there, done that. And, know that if you get there, you have played into their hands yet again, and you have ruined your chances of ever returning to a position of responsibility or authority such as policing.

These are but some of the costs borne to the targets of mobbing. They are the ones that will hit you where it hurts: being a productive and valued member of society. The costs to family and friends are great as well. They will suffer alongside of you. Thus the direct pain that this causes now expands out in a web-like fashion. And those are much harder to repair for many reasons.

And what cost is there to the employer? Or is there one? In my view, there certainly is. First off, there’s the one the Force is facing now: they are viewed as a toxic place to work. And no one in their right mind wants to go work in a toxic, unsafe environment. As for those that ARE there, evidence can now be seen as to what cliques and groups can do to punish people they do not like or do not think are worthy to participate. Upstanders, or those who support the target, may be punished and targeted in turn. The culture of fear and intimidation continues. Consider the irony of the joke phrase that adorned t-shirts a decade ago,” the beatings will continue until moral improves”. This is the Force’s approach, more or less.

Aside from the toxic culture, there’s the cost of lost human resources, lost experience and – more accurately – lost potential. The people who are targeted are usually the high achievers or those who with the wherewithal to move things and people forward. Their personality and ability are what make them targets most often. The more they shine or try to prove their worth, the harder they will be beaten down.  Think of where the force would be without some of its current problem children. Think also where it would be with more folks like the ones trying to solve the problems, fight the good fight and play by the rules. I’d say the Force may be in a better place if these folks were (for lack of a better word) protected in the workplace rather than shunned.

Is there a cost to the bully? There likely is, but from what I have seen, that cost is absorbed by others around them or by the organization itself. They are promoted out of harm’s way or the wagons are circled around them to protect them from the “accuser.”  From any research I have read, unless these folks are punished or terminated by their employer, they will quite often stick with the organization and remain there because it is “safe” for them to do so. After all, no one bullies the bully.

Is there hope for all this? Well, many of you are lucky enough to be able to sue the Force for harassment. And I do hope you get every possible penny from them for suffering and lost job opportunities. If you’re not talking to someone, you should be. Clergy, psychologist, psychiatrist, lawyer, family friend – somebody.

And the sooner the better.

If you are suffering from severe depression or PTSD, the longer you wait for diagnosis and treatment the worse it becomes and the deeper-entrenched the problem becomes. Reach out to the communities of those who suffer as you do. Sadly, mobbing is a bigger problem today than we would want. But it works to your benefit ? You’ll find a community of people who understand what you are going through far better than you would joining a PTSD group for combat vets or rape survivors. And if you know someone who is in your situation, reach out to them. More often than not, people like us will tend to isolate and be untrusting of others.

The pain, anger and agony you feel may not ever go away completely, but it can get better. Mourn your losses, count your blessings. And keep fighting and moving foward.

Jamie Hanlon

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From → Mobbing

3 Comments
  1. Calvin Lawrence permalink

    When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his destiny as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.

    If suffering is avoidable, the meaningful thing to do is remove its cause, for unnecessary suffering is masochistic rather than heroic. If on the other hand, one cannot change a situation that causes his suffering he can still change his attitude.

    From: Man’s Search for meaning by Victor E. Frankl

    We must get the help we need and strive to hold the individuals accountable for their actions. We as a society must fight for Justice and Correctness in the nine major areas of prople activities that we work through on a daily basis. (This includes policing.)
    (Economics, Education, Entertainment, Labour, “LAW”, Politics, Religion, Sex, and War).

  2. Bullied Municipal Employee permalink

    Jamie,
    Thank you for taking the time to write this post, you have been able to express what I have been unable to since I became of “victim” of an RCMP initiated Witch Hunt…false allegations, fabrications and conspiracy was the name of the game in my case. A female Detachment Commander who was reviled for the most part by the members under her set her sights on “getting revenge” because I as a municipal employee had the audacity to seek the advice of my employer the City regarding her bullying and abusive of power. The RCMP management covered up her wrong doing and instead of doing the right thing and holding one of their own accountable they circled the wagons and dug their heels in claiming they had the “right” to “walk me out”. News to the rest of us, the consensus being that if a municipal employee has been determined by DSS that they can not maintain their security clearance, then that is the only justifiable reason for the RCMP to have cause to eject an employee that their employer otherwise does not want to terminate. The City initiated an investigation into the allegations and I was cleared of all wrong doing, the City advised the RCMP that they wanted me reinstated immediately, the RCMP never even gave me or the City the respect of meeting to discuss whatever the issue was they just kept reiterating, “we deem her unsuitable”. When the only allegations to support her very serious allegations against me and cost me my job came from municipal employees who were investigated and found culpable for misconduct. Is this normally how an RCMP officer would conduct an investigation? One sided and without advising the individual of what they are accused of until after they are ” deemed unsuitable and walked out” I think not…the whole thing was a comedy of errors.

    This was my first ever experience with “mobbing” and until it happened to me I had never heard of it. Everything you said is absolutely true, even a couple of years after the fact I still feel as though I am hanging on by a thread emotionally, I just keep telling myself tomorrow will be better, but I am starting to have a hard time even believing my own mantra.

    I am truly sorry that you had to go through what you did, as the toll it takes on your health, your relationships and your sense of worth can’t even be measured, and when you are “not getting over it” it just compounds the hopelessness that you already feel. I have been unable to get another job…because now I have to disclose that I was terminated and to make matters worse the supposed “internal” RCMP investigation document was leaked to the media, it’s open to speculation as to how that could have happened. So not only have I been black balled by a network I built up over a very long time, I can’t even get short listed for a minimum wage job. I am about to lose my house to foreclose and probably a month away from filing bankruptcy, all because I did my job and the RCMP abused their authority simply to prove they were in control.

    The really sad thing is and probably the thing that is the hardest to reconcile is that an organization that I trusted to be above reproach had no issue in throwing me under the bus, circling the wagons and closing ranks all the way of the chain of command to the Commissioner. Instead of taking the opportunity to do the right thing on numerous occasions they just turned a blind eye to the bullying not just in my case but to the complaints made by numerous members who had to book off on sick leave or just not show up to work due to the stress and disfunction under her command; all the while in the media Paulson and Callens are claiming to be holding those who abuse authority accountable…that’s kind of like the fox watching the hen house isn’t it?

    Every lawyer I consulted stated I have an excellent case however they didn’t want to do it on contingency because they didn’t want “to deal with the RCMP”, having been on the receiving end of their lack of transparency and integrity its not like I can blame them. However if anyone knows of a brave soul who is up to walking in the fire with me please let me know. All we can do is keep the faith and continue to support each other.

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Great post Jamie! It’s exactly what i went through, and eventually had to leave as a result. I too was part of a ‘witch hunt’ based on inaccurate second-hand knowledge provided by a highly unreliable and shady 3rd party. This had nothing to do with double-checking me and assurance of the facts, it was just an excercise for a former Chief/Super to promote a couple of his panzies that would do anything to get promoted including lying themselves. The Chief/Supt was a phony himself so it created a recipe for a disastrous setup at my expense. I’ve never really had anyone to talk to about it, and you’re correct, that you need to be careful who you speak to as it opens you up for their ‘inexperienced perspectives’ and opinions, as outsiders have no idea what goes on in this organisation of liars.

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