Since I have been helped by an amazing lawyer, wrongs are still being righted and I found myself having a fresh look at the piles of evidence I collected.
Then, yesterday, I watched an insightful BBC Panorama programme on domestic violence. The clear message of the documentary was that domestic violence is about control.
You’ll probably know that I have always been in full agreement with the Workplace Bullying Institute that domestic violence and workplace bullying are first cousins.
The idea that control is the agenda of the workplace bully was something I had already identified from a key piece of evidence I hold.
When I, yet again, handed in my notice in November 2009, Howard had a meeting with me and later emailed the practice manager to let her know what he’d said. I was fortunate enough to get hold of a copy of this sensational email. Apart from the fact that there is no mention of all the ridiculous things they later alleged in their Defence, Howard’s language is as telling as the content of the email itself. He says to the practice manager:
“I can only control what happens in the workplace”.
Later, he asks for my mobile number. He says: “knowing how her mind works” a personal call is in order. (The practice manager gives him my telephone number and says she thinks I’m probably just oversensitive because I’m overtired).
You don’t have to be a psychologist to recognise that Howard’s language is that of someone who believes he is in full control. He was to a large extent. A few days later he had my desk moved three or four feet directly in front of his and the company allowed him to commence one to one ‘training’ in a private meeting room. Needless to say, these meetings were low on training and high on threatening language and abuse.
However, in that initial meeting with him, I recorded in my diary that Howard said the fact that I had given up going to the gym and writing had left me adrift. I wrote: “He said that he was not only my boss, but he was also my friend – and he understood that I was a vulnerable, unconfident person who was lonely.”
The truth was, however, that I hadn’t given up writing or the gym. I simply told him I had after he bombarded me with emails trying to put me off both. I had stopped writing fiction, for example, but I was hard at work writing my blog. For a quiet life, I gave Howard the illusion of control. Later, I learned how essential this was.
For your psychological good, you must not allow your bully to take full control, but you must not let them know the degree to which you are resisting. That’s workplace bullying for you. Just as with domestic violence, it’s best to let them think they have control while you plan your final escape.