Fighting Back

Regain Control


# You are not to blame

# You must not feel it is acceptable

# You have a right to get it stopped

# You have a right to complain

# You have a right to confidentiality

# You have a right to dignity and respect


With the above in mind here is some ways to help regain control of your situation:


# Recognise what is happening to you, accept that you are being bullied and it is the bully who has the problem, which they are projecting onto you, and that it can be delt with.


One of the first ways to help stop bullying at the start can be if yourself or a colleague approaches the bully and states:

"I wish to make it clear that your (state type) of behaviour is unacceptable. I (persons name if colleage doe's this for you) find it distressing and want it stopped now please".

Then turn round and leave the room, do not discuss it or make any comments to the person, just inform them if they try to run after you or your colleague that

"the matter is closed" 


# Do not accept criticisms and allegations about you or your performance, containing little or no grain of truth, these are not about you or your performance. 

Test the criticisms If they are genuine then, they will be constructive, the person making them will be willing to assist you in the most positive way to improve whatever is the problem.

If they are not helpful or constructive then do not be fooled into believing that the criticisms or allegations have any validity – they do not.  The purpose of  bullying criticism is control, it has nothing to do with performance enhancement.  This is a projection of the bully’s own weaknesses, shortcomings, failings and incompetence.


# You may be encouraged to feel shame, embarrassment, guilt and fear. This is a normal reaction but misplaced and inappropriate. Again this is a form of control.


# You may feel that you are not able to handle bullying by yourself.  Get help.  There is no shame or failure in this, the bully is devious, deceptive, manipulative and cheating. 

Approach your manager, HR or company owner as a start point.


#Keep a journal/diary of everything – Legally one incident can be enough for a tribunal but the number, regularity and pattern of incidents can help with proving the bullying.


# Keep your diary in a safe place, not at work where others may see it.  Keep it at home, keep photocopies of important documents in a separate location.  Bullies are known to rifle through target’s desks and it has been known for the diary to be stolen and used as evidence of misconduct.


# Keep copies of all emails, memos and letters.  Get and keep everything you can in writing otherwise the bully can deny at a later date.


# Carry a notepad and pen with you and record everything that the bully says and does together with anyone else connected with the bullying.


# Record everything in writing including criticisms or allegations.  Write and ask the bully to substantiate their criticisms or allegations in writing.  When the bully does not reply or fails to supply substantive and quantifiable evidence, write again pointing out you have asked for justification and the bully has chosen not to reply or failed to justify the claim.  On the third occasion, point out, in writing, that making allegations and refusing to substantiate them in writing or failing to provide substantive and quantifiable evidence is a form of harassment.


# Denial is common and everywhere.  The person who asserts their right not to be bullied is often blowing the whistle on another’s incompetence. This will not be popular and you can expect the bully to deny everything. 

You may find the bully’s superiors also deny and disbelieve everything and in some cases expect personnel/human resources (if available) to disbelieve and deny the bullying, although they are usually impartial and deal only in facts. 


# A bully likes to play people off against each other, so try to reunite yourself with your employer against the bully.  Point out professionally that the serial bully is encouraging the employer and employee to engage in adversarial interaction and destructive conflict in which there can be no winners, only losers.  If a bully does not succeed in watching others destroy each other, he will move on which leaves the employer to incur all the vicarious liability for their behaviour. 


# Serial bullies are very good at deceiving and manipulating.  Do not underestimate any bully.  When dealing with your employer, focus exclusively on legal and financial matters.  Provide them with information which confirms the employers’ legal requirements.


# Build yourself a support network, however, expect your colleagues to melt away and not be involved.

You may be advised to stand up for yourself (although the person stating this will have no idea how you can do this) and this could make the situation worse.


# See your Doctor.  Bullying can cause prolonged negative stress, which results in psychiatric injury.  Psychiatric injury has nothing to do with mental illness.  If stress is diagnosed make sure it the cause is recorded ie., stress caused in the workplace. If depression is diagnosed, make sure it is recorded as reactive depression. 

Remember that stress is not the employee’s inability to cope with excessive workload but a consequence of the employer’s failure to provide a safe system of work as required by the UK Health and Safety Act 1974 or the Harassment Act 1997


# If you are forced into sickness absence, ill health or stress breakdown through bullying, record it in the accident book, this ensures the bullying is officially logged.  Inform the employer in writing that a person’s bullying behaviour has resulted in injury to health causing you (and others) to be ill.  If you are subsequently victimised for doing this, you may be able to claim victimisation under the UK Employment Rights Act 1996 or the UK Harassment Act 1997


# If you feel strong enough reassure your partner/family that your symptoms are psychiatric injury and things will get better.


# If the bullying has caused you to be off sick with stress, anxiety, depression, and your employer is trying to coerce you back to work.

Write a letter to your employer stating that your absence ‘is due to symptoms of psychiatric injury resulting in stress caused by the inappropriate behaviours of others and unduly stressful working conditions and that you look forward to returning to work at the earliest opportunity. To facilitate your return ask that the employer assures you, in writing, that they will fulfil their obligation of duty of care under the UK Health and Safety Act 1974

to provide you with both a safe place of work and a safe system of work.

Some employers carry out post absence interviews this should be done with the intention of helping the employee by making sure that if they are fit to return to work and the company is meeting it's obligations as a company.

As one example of coercion a small company owner informed the employee that as the CO had not seen the wound that the employee was making it up. This was despite the fact that mangers had been present when the wound had happpened and the employee had been to a Dr and the hospital for iv treatment and to see a plastic surgeon.

Despite sick notes and with more abuse the matter is now in the hands of lawyers.


# Take the matter up with your manager or company owner  in a small business although bullies can be the company owner you would approach. In these circumstances you would be best to leave the business and decide if it is worth taking to a tribunal or restarting your life.


# If your employer has one (they should do) obtain a copy of your companies bullying and harassment policy.  You might wish to do this discreetly (ie. through a third party) if you are not ready to challenge the bully.


# Obtain as much written information about yourself from your workplace as you can lay your hands on. Make sure it is copies, originals should not be used. And do not remove originals or copies without permission.


# Follow the grievance procedure, but be aware that such procedures can be biased in favour of the manager.  A company with no set procedure should follow the ACAS Grievance Procedure. If a company doe's not follow their own grievence procedure then they are not looked on favourably by a tribunal.


# If the bully is making unwarranted criticisms in public or on your record, you may feel it is appropriate to ask your solicitor to write to the bully pointing out that he or she is subject to the laws of slander, libel and defamation of character.


# If your employer refuses to get involved or backs the bully in his/her attempt to get rid of you, you might consider

The ACAS Dispute Resolution service (free) If that does not work get your solicitor to write to someone in authority outlining the way your manager has treated you, stating that your rights in law will be vigorously defended against the unacceptable behaviour of one of their employees, whose actions will be monitored as a consequence of his or her declared intentions.  This turns the spotlight on the bully rather than on the target. 


# Consider leaving – regard it as a positive decision in the face of overwhelming odds which are not of your choosing, not of your making and over which you have no control.  In this type of situation, walking away can be the best thing because you remain in control.  Choose to move on and find an employer who does value you and your skills.  Do not allow your health to be destroyed.  What is more important, your job, your health, your career, life or family?


# If you are forced to leave, make it clear to your employer in writing that this is due to bullying.  You should not be asked to sign anything by your employer however if you are, get professional advice before signing.


# A reference is a legal requirement and cannot be withheld if requested and  strict rules govern the contents. Most employers require a reference from your previous employer and the bully never misses an opportunity to sabotage your career.


#If all else fails, consider taking your employer to an Employment Tribunal.


# Don't forget legal advice is advised. Contact one of the national trade union bodies, your trade body legal department or a lawyer that deals with employment law.

For those in other countries please check up your own country or states laws.


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"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself." 

-Harvey Fierstein



"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."

-Dale Carnegie




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