Document, document, document

Many times I am told that I am over sensitive, imagining things, and at fault for feeling like bad things are happening.  People, sometimes bad things are happening.  Too often, the person telling you it is not bad is the one that is hurting you.  I read several times on a group for CPTSD that bad things are happening and they are suffering and if, that is a very big if, they would do this or that it would all work out.  STOP just stop.  Sometimes bad things are happening.  When I was in counseling, my work ‘restructured’ my job and my boss was changed to a person the not only didn’t hire me, he actively hated me.  He let it be known that he was going to make me quit or fire me.  My job I loved turned into a living nightmare.  I dreaded going to work.  Every meeting I had with this guy I felt stomped on and demeaned.  I felt sick and ended up in the hospital several time with stress related illnesses.  I was already in counseling.  My counselor asked me if I liked the guy.  NO.  He asked me if I was in immediate danger, would he physically hurt me.  NO.  My counselor almost gave a little chuckle.  Let the experiments begin….my mean boss became a guinea pig to test out recently acquired coping skills and conversation starters.  As I did each experiment, I documented the results.  I also documented every single encounter in a meeting, his office, on campus, in a hall way…no matter where I saw him I would go back to my office and write a short email making sure I had the correct information for what we discussed or he asked me to do.  3000 emails later a huge meeting was held with why we weren’t working together nicely.  We all decided to spell out what our boss was really like.  My story was fairly mild compared to what happened to some of my coworkers. Finally, they asked me if I would write why my boss was so unpleasant to work with?  I asked them if they wanted it with or without documentation.  They shot back both.  I suspect now they were trying to pile enough crap on me I would shut up.  That was not happening.  I wrote the papers, 6 pages without documentation and 30 pages with documentation.  I pointed out that any one incident would be with in the range of expectations of someone being a jerk.  The sheer number of incidences I described as a swarm of mosquitoes.  The following week, I had a new boss.  I also learned that going to HR made no difference.  I was told put up with it and shut up or find another job.  I survived that experience only to be laid off during another massive restructuring of my job.  You know you are in the wrong career when you are absolutely thrilled when they tell you to leave and the paid me 6 months pay to do it.  I finished my college degree and found another job.  I am now working with amazing people doing work, most of the time, that I love to be doing with plenty of variety and no one is actively trying to make me quit or fire me.  I love my job.

How to document on the job harassment or actually any harassment. 

One option as a private citizen you can secretly tape record conversations you have with another person.  It is legal, government can’t do it but everyday people can.  Most likely piss off the other person when they find out but by that time you may be in some form of litigation and you need the evidence.  That is one choice.  Another thing you can do is keep a log, journal, what ever you wish to call it of every encounter.  Write as much as you know from the incident.  Add the date, who and where you talked, how long the conversation lasted, how you felt and responded and lock it up in a safe place.  This will stand up in court.  I called it my back up plan.  If I ever needed to I would use this gathered evidence in my behalf.

Many interesting things came out of documenting these encounters.  I learned that since he wouldn’t do anything illegal, I was relatively safe.  I found out that he was just annoying and weak compared to what I already lived through.  I realized that when I looked at my mean boss as a human being with really off base opinions I stopped thinking of him as an overwhelming monster.  I downsized my boss to be just what he was an insecure jerk that hated me for being good at my job.  It is not illegal to be a jerk but he couldn’t do anything to me that hadn’t already been done.  I lost my fear of him.  I also learned that working in an environment that this type of boss is tolerated for years with many complaints is not a place I want to work.  Once in a while I think about him and wonder if I could have done something differently, then I remember all the experiments I tried to get along with him.  Nope.  The issues were not about me.  I was the target not the problem.  I learned in this experience that the person with the most documentation wins. I really won when I walked away and found a happier life.


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