Bullying Impacts Families

The Voice of a Spouse; my husband is a target.  

My husband enjoyed a long and successful career with a national and extremely profitable company. He won awards, was praised for coaching and mentoring his fellow teammates and worked long hours on his own volition because he liked his work. More than a year ago he started reporting to a new supervisor. In an era of #me too let’s just say that men can and are being bullied by women. I have watched my husband transform from a confident, hard-working man who laughed often to one who suffers from daily panic attacks, takes days to make simple decisions like hanging a mirror, and requires medication to help him navigate his days. 

As his partner and friend, I have watched him as he’s been belittled, embarrassed, and ostracized by his supervisor in front of his colleagues. She withholds positive feedback from customers and suppliers and refuses to share it with him, his team or supervisors. She undermines his work, isolates him from the rest of his team-mates, and physically intimidates him. An investigation by HR last year concluded he was not bullied and his claims were ‘unfounded.’ He returned to work after his first stress leave (during which he thought of taking his life) to absolutely no acknowledgement that he had any mental health issues and was offered no support for a gradual return to work. Status quo continued until he could no longer cope with her treatment. On that day he was so distraught that I drove him to a walk-in clinic and he was immediately put off work for the second time.

Other staff members who have reported to this supervisor have left the company or applied for positions elsewhere in the company.

He has shared his story with the company’s President and CEO who referred him to Human Resources. The EAP provider sent him a package with workbooks and documents designed to help someone who had been let go from their position. Two days later a second box arrived with workbooks and documents designed to help someone cope with anxiety and depression in the workplace. The first package, they confessed, had been sent by mistake. 

The logical conclusion is that he should just quit … no job is worth sacrificing your health or well-being. The irony is that bullies prey on people who are fair, just and believe the best in others. So my husband believes his company will do the right thing because they value him and the work he has contributed for so many years. It breaks my heart to see him broken and I grapple with how unfair it is that he should be the one to have to leave a career and company he has loved for so many years.

It is difficult to describe the impact of this kind of experience on a family. I try to educate myself on workplace bullying by reading and talking with experts like Linda Crockett to understand how I can support him. I worry … I find myself checking in with him constantly and when I have to leave for business and appointments I worry even more. I am angry and frustrated … they’ve hurt him and yet there is no remorse and no effort to make it right. We don’t sleep much anymore and our health has declined … stress will do that. We’re working on trying to turn this around … I think we can. 

Thank you for letting me share my story as the wife of someone who is living the reality of workplace bullying. Please keep on doing what you’re doing ABRC.ca… it is important work and something has to change. It must change. 

Spouse from Halifax NS