Understanding trauma and abuse across boundaries

For those of us steeped in the workplace anti-bullying movement, learning about efforts to help those who have been subjected to other forms of interpersonal abuse can be informative and enlightening. This point was reinforced to me last week, when I joined two friends in attending a training program on crime victims’ rights.

The program was sponsored by the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting “the rights of Ohio’s state and federal crime victims.” The Center provides both direct representation of crime victims and periodic training and educational programs across the state. Our session was held in Perrysburg, a city close to Toledo. The focal point of this session was on helping victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

I was not at this program in any official capacity; I attended at the request of a friend. But I was very grateful for the invitation, for the program helped me to understand more about how victims of sexual assault and domestic violence encounter the criminal justice system. And while there certainly are good people working in that system, in too many instances victims of these offenses face insensitive police officers, prosecutors, and judges.

The program prompted a major thought as well: As our legal system moves toward greater recognition of workplace bullying, mobbing, and abuse, we nevertheless will have to persuade stakeholders within that system to take these abusive behaviors seriously. After all, too many women continue to face indifference or even hostility toward their claims of violence and assault. It follows that we shouldn’t expect the legal system to instantly “get it” with work abuse.

When it comes to tackling bullying at work, enacting legal protections must go hand-in-hand with public education. Our work remains cut out for us, and that’s why we stick with it.

5 responses

  1. Pingback: Understanding trauma and abuse across boundaries | Stop Workplace Bullies...Now!

  2. After falling victim to workplace bullying back in the late 1990’s through 2012. I always tried to explain it to people this way. You can sympathize with the women who has been raped, but you will never fully understand what she is going through until it happens to you. I’m sure David you have discovered great similarities between how victims of sexual assault and domestic violence compare to victims of workplace bullying and mobbing. Keep up your great work of learning, so you can teach others about this heinous form of workplace violence.

  3. I cannot find anyone to immediately help me with severe harassment aimed towards me. I a a state of California employee. My health is really deteriorating. I am terrified to go to work but cannot afford to miss. What can a person do to get immediate help? I have gone to outside agencies but will take months to investigate. OKease advise

    • I’m very sorry to read about your situation. For legal assistance, your best bet is to use a legal referral service (usually offered by local and state bar associations) or to use the search function of the California Employment Lawyers Ass’n to find a member attorney who may be able to represent you:


      I hope this is of help.

      • Thanks for replying to my post. I have contacted employment attorneys, however, because my case is so complicated, I get advice but that is as for as it goes as they see that there is too much illegal activity going on. There is physical and sexual assaults, discrimination, retaliation, and now time sheet fraud. Management fire employees who speak up about the illegal activities. We have gone to H.R., Health and Safety and EEOP, all within this agency but falls on deaf ears. We are all very scared because no one wants to get involved. The other day an employee yelled out loud his concerns so everyone can hear about what he is going through and he stated he will fight back with every breath he takes. Have not seen this employee and wonder what management did with him. Stated my concerns with Governor Browns office but am being referred to EEOP (equal employment opportunity program) who again will not help us. Now I have no choice but to go through the Assemblymans office and other political figures but am waiting for a response. I am very determined to fight for us and will do what it takes. Trying to get help outside of Caltrans, which is where I work, takes time so I pray we will get help soon. Thanks so much for letting me vent.

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