What's this blog really about?

You may notice a variety of topics here - from business, to charity promotion, even to local news, but the primary reason this blog was created was to alert readers to the hostile atmosphere and sexual harassment at The Danville Register & Bee. The readers and creator of this blog want a FULL FRONT PAGE apology in the Danville Register & Bee, plus the disciplining of those individuals involved. Until then, we'll continue to post regular updates. To tolerate THIS kind of behavior by a major media network is intolerable. And this isn't just ONE instance. Media General has been sued nationwide for racism and sexism, yet they CONTINUE to keep the offenders employed. Why? And why am I doing this? TRUTH compels me.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Truth compells me - PTSD and the bullying

"Integrity is a very personal decision. Organizations get involved when someone in power wants to silence the one with integrity. The bullying starts small between two people. The entire organization enlists its goon squad when the morally superior whistleblower refuses to back down. Character assassination begins; the Target loses her job, family, friends and her health. Was the Target's decision 'worth it?' Whistleblowers would tell you they'd do it all again given a chance. Truth compels them."

Marinah Valenzuela Farrell, LM, CPM. Ms. Farrell is a midwife with Sage Midwifery in Phoenix, Arizona. To read her entire article, CLICK HERE. Excerpts are below.

According to the bully experts, Dr.'s Ruth and Gary Nami:

"Targets (those people attacked by bullies) are chosen as a result of a combination of circumstances (right person, wrong place) and personality traits. Targets tend to be individuals who bring themselves a lot of attention for being good at what they do or for having a personality that draws admiration. Targets unknowingly beget the ire of bullies who fear that their own inadequacies will be discovered or that attention will be taken away from them. Generally, targeted individuals are very intelligent, determined, creative and industrious.

At work, they go the extra mile, learn jobs quickly, come to "big picture" understandings with other professionals rapidly and are trustworthy. Being trustworthy is especially enticing to a bully when choosing a target.

Bullies do not know anything about being trustworthy and generally lack a true sense of integrity.

Targets, on the other hand, have a very well-developed sense of integrity and honor. Often, targets will refuse to side with others on issues based on personal moral objections or out of a desire to improve an idea or a situation so that "justice" can prevail and so that the playing field is more equal to all involved. Not surprisingly, targets are usually sensitive to world politics that involve justice and goodwill. Targets' ideas are usually incorruptible and they share them easily, with humor, sensitivity and compassion.

Targets also have personal vulnerabilities. Targets usually think highly of outside evaluations of their contributions—such as performance appraisals, management assessments, etc.—yet neglect to give themselves personal credit and do not value themselves highly even when doing stellar work.

Targets can't imagine that others would harm them, and they refuse to think badly of others even when faced with evidence that the other person's behavior is harming them.

Targets have difficulty resorting to aggression and refuse to address painful situations by violently lashing out or taking legal action.
They are forgiving in nature even when a bully obviously is taking advantage of this to further continue harmful behavior toward others or even toward the target who continues to forgive.

Many targets are perfectionists and want their co-workers or management to be perfect, too. Targets say "sorry" quite often even when they are not at fault and tend to feel guilty easily. These women internalize their anger instead of expressing it and can cope for a long time under extreme pressure—at times to the point of illness—before finally coming to terms with the extent of violence being done to them.

Other vulnerabilities can include:

* being single and not having a support person on a regular basis
* having caring responsibilities at home, e.g., an elderly relative, a disabled partner or a child with special needs
* being unable to change jobs, e.g., limited job opportunities, being a specialist
* belonging to a minority group
* having a different sexual orientation
* having a different cultural background
* having a different religious belief
* suffering an illness or disability, whether work-related or not
* not having the national language as your first language
* being too old or too young(4)

Prior traumas also may make a person more vulnerable. Abuse as a child or similar trauma are deeply imbedded in the psyche, so these targets often have a lot more insecurity and reluctance when dealing with the actions of a bully.

Drs. Ruth and Gary Namie, in their book The Bully at Work, write:

"Targets have unpolitical, and therefore impractical, expectations about how organizations and people should treat each other with integrity. Whistleblowers take seriously the responsibility to see that schools funded to care for special kids not misuse the money. Tobacco industry insiders went public with information that belied the falsehoods the industry wanted the public to believe….

Justice is a principle that causes Targets limitless pain. The entire complaint-response system disappoints the person hoping to see justice done. When bullies are confronted about their misconduct, they lie. This outrages the Target who may have taken great risks to have the bullying surface in public. Targets make difficult clients for attorneys. Though it is the law that does not provide protection, Targets hold attorneys accountable for not being able to do more to achieve justice in their case.(5)"

"Targets have a strong sense of justice, hold others to that higher moral standard and find themselves disappointed in systems they have entered into that profess to have high ethical standards yet, in reality, do not follow what they espouse. This is true of the nurse who enters into a community hospital as a way to help women of color and finds that women of color are the most mistreated; the midwifery student who goes to her first meeting full of desire to help women and only hears gossip about other midwives in the state; and the doctor who sincerely enters the profession to help the elderly and finds that she can't even embrace a dying person out of fear of a lawsuit.

These individuals begin to try to find better ways or to change the system. When changes are prevented, they begin using their amazing and seemingly limitless supply of perseverance and humor. This lasts until they get ill or begin to lose hope. Most of these individuals end up exhausted and emotionally depressed by the lack of follow-through in an environment where the potential and desire are there (such as in many hospitals or other health organizations), but the reality is vastly different."

A bully usually will begin to resent a target once the target becomes known for having the personality and work traits already noted.

However, other strong triggers come into play. If a target's performance draws attention to the bully by "comparison," the bully automatically will react. Any attempts by the target to help the bully or to assure the bully that she is not trying to malign the bully will only make things worse! This puts the bully on the defensive and, being fearful and insecure, she will lash out instead of attempting open and honest communication about these fears.

If a person is singled out and noticed when previously the bully had been noticed, the bully will react with immaturity at the loss of attention. This also happens if the target gets affectionate attention from professional peers (gifts, hugs, cards, letters of thanks, respect in meetings, etc.)."

Once the bully realizes that the target is going to take action against her, the bully moves into a different objective: elimination of the target.

This is done with continued violence against the target as a means to termination or in hopes that the target will "just go away" either voluntarily or as a result of the malicious distortions of the truth by the bully. The fact is, if the target does not leave the profession, organization or workplace, ultimately she will endure the hostility to the detriment of her health and with the debilitating effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a wide and varied normal response to stressful situations that occurs to many individuals all over the world and for different reasons. Although some common events trigger PTSD (such as a violent death of one's child), many times individuals may experience PTSD based on isolated events of significance only to them, based on their life history, geographical location, politics or many other reasons. Targets are known to experience some degree of PTSD, with effects ranging from mild to very traumatic and debilitating, ending in death due to the physiological manifestations of stress, or suicide.

Some scientists now believe that the effects of PTSD may also be caused by a number of smaller incidents, causing what is known as Complex PTSD. Many individuals will have a breakdown (of which there are different types) and suffer severe fatigue from lack of true rest. Simply put: Stress does not allow the body and the mind to rest. Since this article is specific to bullying, it is difficult to encompass more than a general introduction to the effects of PTSD. However, it is crucial that people know that the end result of bullying (whether done to adults or children) is a compromised and traumatized individual.

In brief, people suffering Complex PTSD as a result of bullying report:

* fatigue with symptoms of, or similar to, chronic fatigue syndrome.
* anger, over injustice, that is stimulated to an excessive degree (sometimes, but improperly, leading to the application of the words "manic" instead of motivated, "obsessive" instead of focused, and "angry" instead of "passionate," especially from those with something to fear).
* an overwhelming desire for acknowledgement, understanding, recognition and validation of their experience.
* a simultaneous and paradoxical unwillingness to talk about the bullying or abuse.
* a lack of desire for revenge, but a strong motivation for justice.
* a tendency to oscillate between conciliation (forgiveness) and anger (revenge) with objectivity the main casualty.
* extreme fragility, where formerly the person was of a strong, stable character.
* numbness, both physical (toes, fingertips, and lips) and emotional (inability to feel love and joy).
* clumsiness.
* forgetfulness.
* hyperawareness and an acute sense of time passing, seasons changing and distances traveled.
* an enhanced environmental awareness, often on a planetary scale.
* an appreciation of the need to adopt a healthier diet, possibly reducing or eliminating meat—especially red meat.
* a constant feeling that one has to justify everything one says and does.
* a constant need to prove oneself, even when surrounded by good, positive people.
* an unusually strong sense of vulnerability.
* occasional violent intrusive visualizations.
* feelings of worthlessness, rejection and a sense of being unwanted, unlikable and unlovable.
* a feeling of being small, insignificant, and invisible.
* an overwhelming sense of betrayal, and a consequent inability and unwillingness to trust anyone, even those who are close.
* in contrast to the chronic fatigue, depression, etc, occasional false dawns with sudden bursts of energy accompanied by a feeling of "I'm better!," only to be followed by a full resurgence of symptoms a day or two later.
* an initial reluctance to take action against the bully and report him/her knowing that he/she could lose his/her job.
* that later, reluctance gives way to a strong urge to take action against the bully so that others, especially successors, don't have to suffer a similar fate.
* proneness to identifying with other people's suffering.
* a heightened sense of unworthiness, undeservingness and non-entitlement (some might call this shame).
* a heightened sense of indebtedness and undue obligation.
* an unusually strong desire to educate the employer and help the employer introduce an anti-bullying ethos, usually proportional to the employer's lack of interest in anti-bullying measures.
* a desire to help others, often overwhelming and bordering on obsession, and to be available for others at any time regardless of the cost to oneself.
* an unusually high inclination to feel sorry for other people who are under stress, including those in positions of authority and those who are not fulfilling the duties and obligations of their positions (which may include the bully) but who are continuing to enjoy a salary for remaining in their post.(9)

To be targeted is to suffer intense periods of isolation and illness and, in some cases, to make a decision to speak out against the sociology of our work culture. For survivors, it also means breaking away from the guilt of what has been unjustly done and moving on to a place of strength, self-respect and self-love.

"Targets driven by a strong sense of equity, justice and integrity do make life challenging for those who wish they would simply disappear. Maybe they make us uncomfortable because they remind us of how we should all be, of what we should aspire to become. It is that guilt that allows witnesses to the bullying to abandon the principled, passionate and driven Target. God bless 'em. They are the salt of the earth….

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