Emotional abuse in the workplace contributes to suicide

February 24, 2017

In the following article, I once again write about suicide and this time the woman who took her own life was manic depressive.

I found this out from someone who came from the same hometown as she did. Apparently, she did not want to take meditation in order to ‘even out’ her mood swings.

Just the other day, I heard a celebrity state, on the Ellen Degeneres show, that she was a proud manic depressed or bi-polar individual. This jolted me a bit because this is the first time I have ever heard anyone say she or he was proud to be bi-polar.

Then I thought: why not? Ultimately, we should accept people for who they are.

Or, should we? I once dated a bi-polar man. When he was ‘up’, he could not say enough about how wonderful I am. Then, he swung down and I was nothing more than a piece of sh** according to what he said about me.

This happened recently with a friend that I spent some time with. Everyone and everything was wonderful. Then, he would ‘flip’ and yell at me.

I do not think, I or anyone else should be abused or put on a psychological roller coaster ride so someone can be who he or she truly is if this means that they are abusing us verbally or otherwise.

Yet, I know the importance of being able to be who you truly are.

Here is the article about one woman who struggled and lost. But then, who I am to say that suicide is a losing thing to do.

More importantly, this article makes a strong case for the fact that sometimes it is what is being directed towards us by others that makes decide life is not worth living:

Making Waves
May 1991
Emotional abuse in the workplace contributes to suicide
by Tanya Lester

Last August 14, a woman named Daphne Van der Put, who was well known and liked in the Winnipeg feminist and progressive communities, took her final walk to a St. Boniface park near the bungalow she shared with her partner, and killed
herself.

There were, it seems, many contributing factors which led to Daphne’s decision to commit suicide. I believe one factor was the stress she experienced, a few months prior to her death, in an abusive work environment.

At the agency where we both worked, Daphne was a counsellor for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and chemical dependency. I was co-editing a book on the same issues.

One the short period of a few months, I gradually developed strong feelings of respect for Daphne. Respect because she refused to allow the abusive work situation that compelled her to terminate her employment at the agency to go unchallenged.

There was anger and indignation in Daphne’s voice on the day she phoned me to ask for my support. The UIC (Unemployment Insurance Commission), as is its policy, had sent her a letter stating that she would be penalized for a six week period before receiving benefits. The reason, according to UIC, was that she quit her job without due cause.

She had been forced to leave her job, she told me over the phone, in order to escape an emotionally distressing situation in which her confidence in her abilities as a counsellor was being continuously undermined. I knew exactly what she was talking about because I had also quit for similar reasons: I had felt my existence as a worthwhile person was being constantly called into question. There were also, we both knew, many others: other counsellors, summer students, social work student placements, other editors, administrative staff and board members.

After speaking with Jennifer McKenna at the Community Unemployed Help Centre, Daphne had decided to appeal the UIC six week disqualification. She asked if I could
write a letter outlining my experiences at the agency. My response was “yes, definitely.” I was elated about Daphne’s willingness to take on the agency and I knew we could all benefit from her actions.

Testimonies

Of course, I was not the only one Daphne phoned and, in the end, there were 11 women’s “testimonies”, as the UIC appeal board described them. Reading
excerpts from them can provide a fairly inclusive description of the effect working at the agency has had on numerous staff members.

Daphne’s read in part:

“I had been silent until now out of both confusion and fear. I felt confused because: I have never worked or lived in such a chaotic environment; my self-esteem and confidence were constantly, insidiously undermined so that I began to doubt my own perceptions of what was happening around me, to me, and why… I could not believe that women would purposefully hurt and put down other women, especially in an agency which purports to recognize women’s abuse experiences and to empower them. In addition, I felt fearful that if I spoke up and told the truth, no one would believe me, and that my individual experience might simply be discredited as merely my ‘subjective experience’.”

Another social worker wrote:
“It is beyond my verbal capacity to describe the process of undermining that occurred during my tenure there…Vert briefly, in spite of my experience and prior knowledge within the field, I soon began to feel that I was quite incompetent and had no business attempting to provide counselling to women who came in for
treatment… I began to experience certain physical symptoms that were quite distressing. I grew dizzy and nauseous and it became so bad … I would get dizzy walking down the street or lying in my bed…doctors could find nothing organically wrong…I have had no recurrences of my mysterious illnesses since I left (the agency).”

Other administrative and counselling staff articulated:

“The situation at (the agency) is unbearable due to the extreme tension. It is our perception that this situation has evolved from the misuse and abuse of power as a result the rights, protection and support of staff have been invalidated.”

Yet another social worker described the situation as follows:
“While begin coached to be vigilant in my respect of the client’s boundaries, my own were being transgressed for reasons of ‘clinical supervision’…”

Tanya works as a psychic who specializes in tea leaf reading and tarot. She is also a reiki master and a full-time house sitter. To access her services, go to her website at treading.wordpress.com or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. She can also be contacted directly at tealeaf.56@gmail.com or 250-538-0086 cell.

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