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Lucy's story – Bullying

I had a year that was quite stressful for me on the work front which I realise now was caused by a very quiet form of bullying. I had always perceived bullying as loud and physical, so this was all very new to me.

I’m an outgoing person, but also sensitive, which enables me to be quite intuitive in circumstances that affect me. The bullying started in small amounts, very subtle but definitely specific. The comments came with a smile, within a group, and would not seem to anyone to be targeted at me. I became aware of this when new staff members joined the team and little groups were formed and I was not included. I accepted that the relationship I had with this person had changed, and although I couldn’t understand why, I accepted it.

It was when I started to hear comments that were being said about me, when certain areas of my job were challenged in a belittling way that it really got me down. I became less interactive and started to really doubt myself as a person and as a team member and was actually wondering if I was imagining the whole scenario. I dreaded coming to work and when I knew that person was away from the office I felt a load had lifted from my shoulders. It affected my home life, my general well being and my health and I got quite low. I loved my job and my commitment to NZDF but thought perhaps the only way for me was to resign. What frustrated me was that no one realised that this was happening, but then I had the ability to cover up my feelings and carry on, performing effectively within my job.

It wasn’t easy to admit to myself that I wasn’t coping and especially voicing this to another, as I’m proud of my can-do attitude and would hate to think that I would be seen as being unsteady. But when I got the courage to talk to a colleague about how I was feeling, I was listened to and supported and told that I was not to feel alone. The best piece of advice I was given was for me ‘not to own the problem’. From that day on I was able to put things into perspective and although the situation stayed much the same I was able to rise above it because I realised it was a behaviour that was the responsibility of the other person and I had a listening ear if needed and was not alone.

I am still in my position doing the job I love and feeling better for reaching out and saying … ‘I need some help in this situation’. And instead of this weakening my character it has given me a sense of strength and belief in myself.