Despite the odd sunny periods in the last couple of weeks, the grey weather has set in with a vengeance with very cold temperatures, persistent rain and snow forecast for next week. I was going to spend a couple of days in the garden this weekend just tidying up really and preparing for the summer to come if it ever is going to arrive. But, as that is out of the question, some Internet work and reading is the order of the the day.
I've been to a spirit, body and mind fair today with good friends Linda and Helen just to be with good friends and to enjoy a pleasant atmosphere at the event held at a lovely local hotel. I hadn't intended to go and in fact I didn't even know the event was on. I happened to bump into another friend, a lovely lady, and we sat down for a quick chat while she was waiting for a couple of members of her family to arrive.
I was upset and concerned that she told me that she was being bullied at her place of work. She has worked at this place for many years (I can't give you any details that may identify her) and a new manager came in and made what appears to be spurious allegations and has told some lies to put my friend under pressure. This has never happened to her before and has upset her a great deal. Undoubtedly she has been treated differently than other members of the organisation.
I gave her what little advice I could to keep her spirits up - she is seeing her union about it. Another person I know (again I can't give details for fear it might identify the person) is being bullied, this time from someone they are responsible for - upward bullying. Again the effects are devastating.
I guess our vision of the bully is the archetypal thug who threatens to punch kids if they don't hand over their pocket money or perhaps the manager who piles all the work on someone who will never be able to complete it and then makes their life hell for not doing so. These signs are easy to spot. In my experience however, bullying can be much more subtle than that and that makes it worse. There could be just the use of the odd word here and there, a whispering to colleagues and looking in your direction, bullying because of your gender or sexual orientation, and sadly these days, bullying using social networking. It could extend to being beaten or threatened with physical harm, or down to being given the silent treatment.
Bullying is a nasty, insidious and destructive behaviour but the bullies have no idea how it is as destructive to them as well as their victims. People die through bullying and victims can develop serious mental and physical illness - that's how serious it could be. I don't have many solutions because I am just a layman, but if you are being bullied, please don't keep quiet about it - speak to someone about it.
It's easy of course if you are in a union or have a representative organisation to help you, but most haven't. Have you got a friend or a family member you can trust?
You don't have to put up with it and don't think you have to build up to summon up courage or be a strong person to do it, you don't. Just say to a person you choose - "I'm being bullied, I don't know what to do." By hook or by crook, because you've take this first step, you will find yourself on the road to a solution and to a better quality of life. No-one is saying it is necessarily easy, but at least you can make a start.
If you haven't got access to any of these resources, you can try Bullying UK Don't forget there will be help on-line in your country too outside of the UK.
Finally, if you have witnessed bullying, you might have been a bystander at work or at school and you decided to do nothing - my message to you is: bullys need you, you are the friend of the bully. If you weren't comfortable dealing with it or daren't intervene for fear of a backlash, you also need to speak to someone about it to find out what you can do and to get protection for yourself if necessary. Report it anonymously if that's what you feel is appropriate but please, please don't stand back and let it happen.
Well on that cheery note, I bid you farewell and hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend, whatever you are doing.