The person at the receiving end of bullying, harassment with its predictable impact on your health, safety, social development are referred to by some as "victims" while others prefer the term "targets" (see definitions for terms of reference). Research indicates that strong characteristics like popularity, competence and integrity could  land an employee in this category while some become targets because of vulnerability, whether circumstantial or by virtue of disempowering traits.

Not your portrait??

There is a problem to bring it home to the broader public that the victims or targets of workplace bullying/mobbing are not a bunch of nerds, deserving of their treatment. Most companies prefer to deny that they have a bullying problem and rather attribute the "tension" to "personality clashes".

Charlene Smith, well-known SA journalist recently wrote in an article that when we see the victims as pathologically weak, we secure a bearable distance between them and us. We become convinced that their portraits are not ours...

It is a well-known fact that we often think that we will not become victims because we are doing the things right, is a "nice" person and hardworking. This is in fact a denial of our fear to be at the mercy of others' whims and therefore we don't want to get close to victims because the closer we get to them, the closer we get to our own fears.

Are you already a target or could you become one?

(Excerpt from "Corporate Hyenas at Work")

  • Is society unstable or undergoing changes at all levels?
  • Is your organisation highly competitive
  • Are there problems at work in the areas of job descriptions and organisational structure?
  • Are discriminatory practices rife at work, including nepotism and favouritism?
  • Are you suffering from ill-health or recovering from a sickbed?
  • Are you experiencing personal trauma like divorce, financial difficulties, dingle parenting, loneliness coupled with a lack of support systems?
  • Is your boss incompetent or does he/she take wrong decisions?
  • Are you a threat to the career ambitions of others?
  • Does your appearance pose a threat to others?
  • Are you suffering from disabilities of any nature?
  • Do people refer to you as an "affirmative action appointment?"Is your boss a person without integrity?
  • Does the boss dislike you or do you have enemies close to the boss?
  • Are you 10 or more years older than the average age group at work?
  • Is your boss or a colleague manipulative?
  • Are you over 40?
  • Has management recently filled a key position with a person with a track record as a successful "downsizer" or "restructurer"?
  • Are you competent - more competent than your ambitious peers or your boss?
  • Are you popular?
  • Do you stand up for the rights of other staff members?
  • Have you had a history of victimisation?
  • Do you have difficulty relating to colleagues on the interpersonal level?
  • Have you got problems asserting yourself, being either too passive or too aggressive?
  • Do you have a higher loyalty to employers, beliefs and things than being loyal to yourself?
  • Do you have a constant need to share your activities and inner feelings with others, including strangers?
  • Do you have an overwhelming need to be approved by others?
  • Does the past have a profound hold on your life?
  • Are you dependent on others to achieve your goals?
  • Do you avoid confrontation at all costs?
  • Do you live in your own world as opposed to living in a sense of awareness and alertness?
  • Do you feel that you are accident-prone?
  • Do you have misplaced feelings of guilt?
  • Do you have negative expectations of the future in general?
  • Do you believe that your boss is always right and therefore has no weaknesses?
  • Do you trust your boss, peers and subordinates unconditionally?

Even as much as one "yes" need to wake you up to alertness. The more "yes" answers, the more you need to be on your guard, you could be targeted already. Buy your copy of "Corporate Hyenas at Work" today, you will need it!

Stress and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

A Victim or Target experience severe stress and sometimes suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of Workplace Hostilities. The stress also impacts on the Target's physical health and apart from the fact that the whole situation is terribly confusing. Stress and PTSD could have devastating effects which could stay with you for years and if you suspect that you suffer from depression or stress-related diseases, please go for professional help. Take good care of yourself when under attack, you will need every bit of strength to fight back.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is more common than we think. You may suffer from depression or PTSD when:

· are anxious, have panic attacks and are tearful all of the time or most of the time
· you are irritable, suffer from poor concentration and/or forgetfulness
· have thoughts of death or suicide
· you are blaming yourself and feeling worthless;
· you become increasingly withdrawn
· you are no longer full of expectation for the future and cannot see beyond the day
· you feel trapped
· have constant replays in your mind of the bullying events
· overwhelming negativism and feeling "blue"
· you don't enjoy those things which used to give you pleasure
· your sleeping pattern is disturbed
· your eating habits changed
· when you suffer from fatigue, irritable bowl syndrome, headaches and other stress-related illnesses
· you have feelings of fragility, vulnerability and security
· revenge becomes an attractive option
· loss of interest in your job, life and family life
· you are feeling confused and hyper vigilant
· you are subject to mood swings and easily fly into a temper
· you feel like a failure

It is very important that you find a good therapist or psychologist who UNDERSTANDS workplace bullying and/or have had experience with victims/targets of bullies. There are good therapists who have a good understanding of this workplace health hazard and it may be a good idea to try a few therapist until you find someone who you are comfortable with. But GET HELP, depression is an illness and you are as entitled to treatment as a person who had been involved in a car accident.

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