Work is one of the places were most of us spend majority of our week, 8 hours a day plus, add travel to that another hour and half if you are lucky that is both ways and this time is usually spent thinking about work. Driving to work - the list of tasks that need to be done, driving home what you got done and what you didn't.
This world for most of us is work, and we are good with this, its a part of being in a functioning society and supporting our families. Although I know there is a hope to win lotto and have a day or two off, but for many different reasons we are generally committed to the place we called our jobs.
So, what happens when the place you spend majority of your life becomes unsafe and the only protection you have is a policy that states bullying and harassment is not acceptable but you actually cant prove that its bullying or harassment because the ONLY evidence you have is a knowing and the feeling of the experiences with no proof that your employer / manager / team leader / co worker is acting in a way that makes you feel unsafe? You may have an email or two that you know is meant in one way but someone else reading it would interpret it differently because they have NOT experienced the behaviors leading up to receiving the email.
How can you be sure? Sometimes its completely obvious and there is aggression, verbal and / or physical gestures or threats... BUT there are these other times when its more subtle and you feel like you are going insane. You may ask yourself "what just happened?" you will start to run incidents through your head over and over again, you may seek a person out and tell them how things are happening and can they help you clarify, as time goes in and incidents occur more frequently you may find yourself scheduling your day around avoiding them in the office, in meetings, in the lunchroom and your working life has now become a strategic plan to avoid interactions. Your travel to work is anxious, you are worried about raising concerns in the workplace for fear of repercussions, you are continually having that inner feeling of walking on eggshells and the crack can happen at anytime, you are overwhelmed about submitting any completed work because of the response, you feel ignored and isolated. this could all fall under the heading of GASLIGHTING - this is a particular tool a perpetrator uses to put power over and maintain control.
Definition of gaslighting:
Gaslighting is intentional, a systematic process that uses lying and false information to make the victim doubt themselves, their capabilities, their instincts, and their own sense of reality. While usually thought of in terms of a couple in a private relationship, the innate power dynamics at the workplace support the behavior. The person in power, like a boss or team leader, gaslights a person with less power (their subordinate) who is unable to fight back.
More than bullying or simple dishonesty, gaslighting at the workplace is a deliberate form of abusive manipulation. Usually perpetrated by a narcissist or psychopath-type personality, it results in victims questioning their recollections of events. This leads to self-doubt, which can then result in silencing the victim altogether. Victims, who tend to be empathic, kind-hearted, and ethical people, often experience anxiety and depression, and are sometimes forced to leave the workplace completely in order to survive. https://www.inhersight.com/blog/insight-commentary/gaslighting?_n=63894133#
Even though gaslighting can play a role in workplace bullying they are very different, workplace bullying doesn't automatically mean you are a victim of gaslighting. Both of these are tactics to have power over someone and show superiority.
Definition of workplace bullying:
“Workplace bullying” is aggressive behaviour that intimidates, humiliates and/or undermines a person or group. Bullying can be defined as the repeated less- favourable treatment of a person by another or others in the workplace, which is considered unreasonable and inappropriate workplace practice. Examples of bullying at work may include: yelling; screaming; abusive language; continually criticising someone; isolating or ignoring a worker; sabotaging someone’s work or their ability to do their job by not providing them with vital information, appropriate training and/or resources . Bullying results from one person or a group needing to dominate or show superiority over another person. Safework Australia
Why does this mean workplace bullying IS workplace violence? When we understand the tactics used by people who use violence in their homes, these tactics overlap nearly equally to workplace bullying tactics - both are perpetrators of violence, both want to maintain power and control and both believe without a doubt their behavior was the fault of someone else.