In a world where we are hardly viewed as people, and more as the embodiment of whatever job we have, we may need to ask: what are boundaries at work anyway?
Even when survivors distance themselves from a toxic person, we often still hear their voice in our heads, drowning out our own inner-voice and reaffirming the doubt that was planted a long time ago. In effect, we have a bully in our head.
I personally have suffered from workplace bullying in a major UK retail concern, and it was horrendous. Already suffering from low self-esteem, I was reduced to periods of extreme depression. I had to talk myself into going to work every morning because ‘I needed the money’.
Emotional abuse may be an elusive concept to many, for people who have been on the receiving end it is only too tangible. The effects of emotional or narcissistic abuse are many, and healing from these can be challenging.
Our most immediate association with the word violence is of physical aggression. But you can utterly destroy a person, and never lay a hand on them.
Whether we were in an abusive romantic relationship or were born to parents who delighted in making us suffer throughout our lives, it is without doubt that we are Brave (with a deliberate capital B).
Not only have we survived the bullies. We have found a way to understand how not to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. How to reach out and talk about the horrors we have lived, while at the same time learning to heal and support others. The bravest task we ever faced.
“Over the last years I realise more and more that the constant feedback of me being lazy, undisciplined, self-centred and fat (as the main themes) prevented me from being a confident person, and for a long time stopped me from being a successfully independent adult.”
Recently I had a conversation with some co-workers about who had worked for the worst boss. When I said: "I used to work for a boss that hit me". I had clearly marked the winner. “Why did you not just leave the job?” my friend asked astonished. Of course I did leave the job eventually, but it took me a few years, and some major health scares to realize what was going on.