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.