Posts Tagged ‘vicarious trauma’
Monday, April 21st, 2014
Impact on Family
Displacement, Withdrawal, Anxiety & Despondency
The most obvious and direct impact is displacement of the target’s anger and shame about being bullied at work onto the family at home. This is akin to the coming home and “kicking the dog.” When anger can’t be leveled against the source of frustration and humiliation, the bully at work, especially when the bully is a boss, often the only outlet is outside work. The difficulty of confronting-stopping a boss is traced to the historical uphill battle to cross the “power gradient.” Telling a boss to go to hell brings certain retaliation. It’s part of our hierarchical world.
By the way, displacement could occur on the way home. Pity other drivers on the commute home or wait staff at restaurants at lunchtime who might be in harm’s way. Nevertheless, most workers exposed to abusive supervision tend to bring it home. Violence at work begets violence at home.
Much more common is emotional withdrawal. Targets are overwhelmed by emotional abuse and exhausted at work. It takes all energy they can muster just to survive the 8 to 10 hours and commute to home. The stress strips away their appetite. So, they come home, skip dinner, and retire to bed seeking protection that sleep might provide. Sadly, sleep is disrupted by the distress caused by bullying. Solid REM sleep is rarely enjoyed. Sleep deficits make the targeted family member a non-participant, especially weekends. Traditions and family routines get postponed or abandoned completely. Everyone’s schedules are changed to accommodate the wounded worker in the family. This builds resentment. But targets who do not seek counseling or have their bullying situations reversed are trapped in a sleepless withdrawal loop.
Bullied targets also bring home anxiety. This is a normal reaction to the personalized stressors that bullying poses — domination, intimidation and humiliation. Even for individuals who have never experienced abuse (33% of workplace bullying targets), bullying fosters anxiety, the forewarning of distress. Distress, in turn, causes many stress-related health problems for targets. The point is that the anxiety is seen and felt by all family members exposed directly to it.
The inability to stop the bullying by the targeted parent creates a sense of despondency. The unhelpful reactions of coworkers further worsens the feeling. Thus, coming home is the message that mother or father or lover or wife or husband, once an integrated adult, is falling apart, suddenly powerless.
The coupling of anxiety and despondency is a toxic stew that affects the mood at home. Prolonged exposure renders both adults and children vulnerable to long-term effects from situations over which no one at home can control.
Tags: anxiety, displacement, health, impact on family, neuroticism, vicarious trauma, workplace bullying
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Friday, January 4th, 2013
“12-9” is the New York City subway transit code for a passenger under a train. In 2012 55 people died by subway impact. When the death is a deliberate suicide, there are at least two victims — the person committing suicide wishing to die and the train operator dragged into the plan involuntarily. For operators, they are at work on the job.
Equally horrific is the recent spate of deliberate murders committed by crazed individuals who push others onto the tracks in front of a subway train that cannot stop in time to prevent death or injury.
The sensitive New York Times report about the plight of train operators caught my attention.
Historians of the workplace bullying movement recognize the phenomenon that first interested Heinz Leymann, the international founder. The suicides caused the trauma from work that led to his work on mobbing. The best source of information about Leymann is written and maintained by Prof. Ken Westhues at the University of Waterloo.
Leymann researched mobbing in Sweden. Follow the links at the above website (Essential Article to read one of Leymann’s earliest English-language articles.) Mobbing always has several perpetrators and a single victim. Some argue that workplace bullying is different. At WBI we believe they are the same thing. In bullying, accomplices line up to aid and abet the single instigator leading to a “ganging up” as in mobbing.