Being Bullied

posted
18-Apr-12, 00:38
edited about 10 seconds later
by beth12
Avatar for beth12
posted about 2 years ago
This is related to my experience as a PhD student and I am at a loss at where to turn to so I hope you can be of help. I am in a very difficult situation and cannot understand how it began or believe it is happening! There is only one word to describe it - bullying. I have tried to take constructive steps but have been hit back due to my junior status compared to a very senior position. It is severely affecting my health as well as career and is very serious. Obviously I cannot go into details but I'm finding that such situations are very hush-hush and surely there must be something we can do to ensure we are treated fairly? If what is happening to me right now was happening in a 'social' or public setting then there would be no doubt that the behaviour is liable to prosecution. Except when it is in academia, it is a return to the Dark Ages. If there are any organisations or likewise you could recommend, please help. Thank you so much for your time reading this. Its one step out of isolation.
posted
18-Apr-12, 07:20
edited a moment later
by Delta 4 star member
Avatar for Delta
posted about 2 years ago
======= Date Modified 18 Apr 2012 07:27:26 =======
Hi Beth12,

I really sorry to read this as bullying is completely terrible and I do understand how it affects health and career as it happened to me around 7 years ago (not in an academic setting) and I'm still in quite a fragile way as a result of it. I ended up having to quit my job, to be honest, and still suffer psychologically as a result.

This is the very difficult part because I was bullied by people of a more senior position (they were friends as well as colleagues in my opinion) it was me against them and I knew I was never going to win and so I got help and secured an exit deal (I was in an extremely bad way by the end). I agree there should be something we can do to ensure we are treated fairly but I'm not sure there is.

Can you go to the SU and get advice and go to the counselling service at your university and talk to them in confidence? I can understand why you can't say a lot here but you might be able to tell a counselling service more.

Why not browse these sites and see if you get access any useful information?

http://www.bullyonline.org

http://nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Bullying/Pages/Antibullyinghelp.aspx

Beth12, I am so sorry you are going through this and I hope it all works out.

Please take care,

D
posted
18-Apr-12, 10:00
edited about 17 seconds later
by Delta 4 star member
Avatar for Delta
posted about 2 years ago
It would be helpful to know if you are experiencing this as a student or employee as that could make a difference to where you need to go to get help / advice.

If it helps, please feel free to PM me, even if only to give off steam.
posted
18-Apr-12, 10:16
by skig 3 star member
Avatar for skig
posted about 2 years ago
Hi Beth,

Like Delta, I also experienced bullying in a previous job out of academia and I found support from the EAP (employee assistance programme). I'm not sure if your uni offers this, but although EAP is paid by the organisation, it's confidential advice to employees in various topics (e.g. housing, employment) and you may be able to access counselling as well, which personally I found very helpful as I felt more able to deal with the situations.

You can also seek confidential advice from an organisation called acas, they provide confidential information and advice on employment related issues.

http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1864

As Delta says, it'd be helpful to know if you're experiencing bullying as a student or as an employee...
posted
18-Apr-12, 16:20
edited about 6 seconds later
by Iseult
Avatar for Iseult
posted about 2 years ago
I experienced a difficult situation a while back - it could be called bullying - and was recommended the following book, 'A Woman in Your Own Right' by Anne Dickson. It goes into how to handle verbal abuse, and if that is the problem you are having, it may be helpful. Best of luck.
posted
18-Apr-12, 20:11
by beth12
Avatar for beth12
posted about 2 years ago
THANK YOU! I am saddened to hear of similar stories, but grateful for your understanding. Also much appreciate the links as up till now I was unaware of any potential avenue of help.
I am a student in one university, employed in an academic position in another university, and the professor in question is from yet another university. It has extended and become very abusive and personal.
I will PM, if you do not mind, in the next day or so. I thank you all again, and please let's continue to share and seek justice - I am tired of feeling a victim!
posted
18-Apr-12, 20:19
by Delta 4 star member
Avatar for Delta
posted about 2 years ago
No problem. Send me a PM any time you feel like it and I'm glad if we've all helped in some way. I sincerely feel for you because I know just how terrible and isolating bullying can make you feel. Happy to help if I can.

Please look after yourself.
posted
19-Apr-12, 12:00
Avatar for DrJeckyll
posted about 2 years ago
Hi Beth,

I only wanted to let you know that you shouldn't feel weak. In the UK universities bullying is treated like a very serious issue, and treated very strictly from the uni. Generally, it might not go out of the department, because it is in the interest of all staff and higher ups not to hurt the reputation of the department. In a very recent case the whole team made a joined complaint for bullying against a person, who was kicked out of the uni regardless previous status.

Chin up!

posted
19-Apr-12, 12:31
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
======= Date Modified 19 Apr 2012 12:31:56 =======
Quote From Skig:

Hi Beth,

Like Delta, I also experienced bullying in a previous job out of academia and I found support from the EAP (employee assistance programme). I'm not sure if your uni offers this, but although EAP is paid by the organisation, it's confidential advice to employees in various topics (e.g. housing, employment) and you may be able to access counselling as well, which personally I found very helpful as I felt more able to deal with the situations.

You can also seek confidential advice from an organisation called acas, they provide confidential information and advice on employment related issues.

http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1864

As Delta says, it'd be helpful to know if you're experiencing bullying as a student or as an employee...



I thought about taking action after problems during my second post-doc (at a Uni. other than my Ph.D. Uni.) once I left the post. When the senior professor on your second day of your year in the job describes you as "Very much a second choice, a stop gap measure, we'll just have to make do" to the girl who was to be my (de)mentor, I think you can guess how the post-doc went. ACAS was suggested to me after I left and I struggled to find work without a reference from the position (I wasn't sacked, but the breakdown in relations was complete).

However, I had made an error during that time in a meeting with a major client and I was aware this could be used against me should an action be taken, even though I feel I was not briefed fully on statistical methodologies being used when I began the second post-doc and this contributed to the error (i.e. "we are using method X" would have been sufficient to set me on my way, rather than me grovel in the dark). Also, a previous action against the professor concerned had failed and it appears the Uni. concerned has closed ranks to protect it's reputation (i.e. the familiar tale of people not wanting to be involved to protect their own careers and jobs). In addition, I needed to be back in work and an ongoing action would count against me.

Have you kept a diary of events? Have you material evidence? Have you a witness who won't melt away? These will help in any case you may decide to raise for harrasment and bullying.

Universities I feel are difficult to fight for the reasons I've given and continue to exist in a different era to the rest of the world. Be very sure of your position before you decide to take action against them.


Ian (Mackem_Beefy)
posted
19-Apr-12, 12:33
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From DrJeckyll:

Hi Beth,

I only wanted to let you know that you shouldn't feel weak. In the UK universities bullying is treated like a very serious issue, and treated very strictly from the uni. Generally, it might not go out of the department, because it is in the interest of all staff and higher ups not to hurt the reputation of the department. In a very recent case the whole team made a joined complaint for bullying against a person, who was kicked out of the uni regardless previous status.

Chin up!



I appreciate what you're saying, however, that can vary from Uni. to Uni. and department to department, hence my caution. It may be that things are improving since my experiences a few years ago.


Ian (Mackem_Beefy)
posted
19-Apr-12, 16:20
edited about 7 seconds later
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 2 years ago
Beth

Is the bullying related to your PhD student activity or your employment at the second university? Given the culprit is at a third institution, there is very little that can be done formally through HR as neither your employer or your PhD university can force another university to take action against one of their staff. I would suggest that you ask your HoD in the relevant university to alert their HoD to the situation though - if this individual is bullying you, then there's a good chance the same is happening there and this might help with the evidence trail to move against him/her. But if you say it's prosecutable, why not go down that route - report it to the police or if it's civil law it might be worth sending a solicitor's letter. Easiest of all, if you've got incriminating email evidence sent from a university email, report it to the computing service of that institution - I'm pretty sure all institutions have codes about misuse of university emails. You've clearly made an enemy of this individual now, so I don't think you've got much to lose. Are you in UCU or another campus union? It might be worth a chat with a union rep to get some advice on what you can profitably do.
posted
19-Apr-12, 16:41
by Delta 4 star member
Avatar for Delta
posted about 2 years ago
I think it is very important to highlight a point made by Mac and touched upon by Bewildered, have you hard, concrete evidence in the form of emails or whatever? If so, keep them or start keeping them but don't do anything without getting good sound advice first from perhaps one of the agencies highlighted. I take a slightly different viewpoint to Bewildered in that you may have something to lose because of the power imbalance (you starting out him/her an established academic) but I'm saying this mindful that I don't know a lot to the background of the situation.

Hoping you're OK.

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