Bullying is not limited to the schoolyard, nor to Facebook, nor simply to youth. Bullying exists just as easily in our adult lives, as anyone who has been part of an abusive relationship can attest to. However, an often overlooked form of bullying occurs in the workplace, and the Workplace Bullying Institute has compiled a ton of information and resources to support and help those who feel themselves being abused at work find relief and a way to confront the problem confidently.

The following passages have been borrowed from


Being Bullied? Start Here
To help you get started, read the material below to make a difference in your health and your life. Please know two things:

You are not alone
You did not cause bullying to happen
Bullying is a systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction that jeopardizes your health, your career, the job you once loved. Bullying is a non-physical, non-homicidal form of violence and, because it is violence and abusive, emotional harm frequently results. You may not be the first person to have noticed that you were bullied.

Remember, you did not cause bullying to happen. We’ve broken down the major reasons why bullies bully. The primary reason bullying occurs so frequently in workplaces is that bullying is not yet illegal. Bullying is four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job.

Should you confront the bully? If you could have, you would have. Instead, use the WBI-suggested 3-Step Method. Remember, put your health first. Don’t believe the lies told about you. Spend time with loved ones and friends. At times of debilitating stress like this, you must not be isolated. Isolation will only make the stress worse.

As we said, to date, no U.S. state has passed an anti-bullying law for the workplace.

Definition of Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:

Verbal abuse
Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done

Workplace Bullying…

-Is driven by perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual(s).
-Is initiated by bullies who choose their targets, timing, location, and methods.
-Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or through coercion.
-Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself.
-Is akin to domestic violence at work, where the abuser is on the payroll.

Synonyms that reflect the seriousness of bullying: Psychological Violence, Psychological Harassment, Personal Harassment, ‘Status-Blind’ Harassment, Mobbing, Emotional Abuse at Work

Euphemisms intended to trivialize bullying and its impact on bullied people: Incivility, Disrespect, Difficult People, Personality Conflict, Negative Conduct, Ill Treatment

Not calling bullying “bullying,” in order to avoid offending the sensibilities of those who made the bullying possible, is a disservice to bullied individuals whose jobs, careers, and health have been threatened as the result. Tom Engelhardt said it wisely when he said, “Words denied mean analyses not offered, things not grasped, surprise not registered, strangeness not taken in, all of which means that terrible mistakes are repeated, wounding ways of acting in the world never seriously reconsidered. The words’ absence chains you to the present, to what’s accepted and acceptable.”
The Relation to Domestic Violence

Being bullied at work most closely resembles the experience of being a battered spouse. The abuser inflicts pain when and where she or he chooses, keeping the target (victim) off balance knowing that violence can happen on a whim, but dangling the hope that safety is possible during a period of peace of unknown duration. The target is kept close to the abuser by the nature of the relationship between them — husband to wife or boss to subordinate or co-worker to co-worker.

Early Signs of Bullying

You know you’ve been bullied at work when….

Experiences Outside Work

You feel like throwing up the night before the start of your work week
Your frustrated family demands that you to stop obsessing about work at home
Your doctor asks what could be causing your skyrocketing blood pressure and recent health problems, and tells you to change jobs
You feel too ashamed of being controlled by another person at work to tell your spouse or partner
All your paid time off is used for “mental health breaks” from the misery
Days off are spent exhausted and lifeless, your desire to do anything is gone
Your favorite activities and fun with family are no longer appealing or enjoyable
You begin to believe that you provoked the workplace cruelty
Experiences At Work

You attempt the obviously impossible task of doing a new job without training or time to learn new skills, but that work is never good enough for the boss
Surprise meetings are called by your boss with no results other than further humiliation
Everything your tormenter does to you is arbitrary and capricious, working a personal agenda that undermines the employer’s legitimate business interests
Others at work have been told to stop working, talking, or socializing with you
You are constantly feeling agitated and anxious, experiencing a sense of doom, waiting for bad things to happen
No matter what you do, you are never left alone to do your job without interference
People feel justified screaming or yelling at you in front of others, but you are punished if you scream back
HR tells you that your harassment isn’t illegal, that you have to “work it out between yourselves”
You finally, firmly confront your tormentor to stop the abusive conduct and you are accused of harassment
You are shocked when accused of incompetence, despite a history of objective excellence, typically by someone who cannot do your job
Everyone — co-workers, senior bosses, HR — agrees (in person and orally) that your tormentor is a jerk, but there is nothing they will do about it (and later, when you ask for their support, they deny having agreed with you)
Your request to transfer to an open position under another boss is mysteriously denied