To finally come out and talk about the bullying I experienced in the Armed Forces

(26 Posts)
Andthentherewasmum Fri 08-Jan-16 21:26:08

I was bullied in the workplace by a senior officer in a position of authority. I was told at the time that if I reported it then it would finish my career off. I'm so angry at myself for not reporting it, although I did try to stand up to them at the time, it just got worse.

This was a few years ago and I have since left but feel so angry. I served on operational tours and made some amazing friends but can't get past the anger I feel at being bullied.

I feel deeply the injustice of how they managed to get away with it and basically drove me away from my career.

Andthentherewasmum Fri 08-Jan-16 21:43:25

I've had counselling, it helped for a bit.

I want to be proud of my career, instead I feel shame that I didn't fight the bullying with formal action. sad

goodnightdarthvader1 Fri 08-Jan-16 21:49:12

Can you take action retroactively? What happened?

I'm sorry to hear you were bullied, that's always horrible.

HeyMacWey Fri 08-Jan-16 21:51:38

Is it too late to look at constructive dismissal - not sure if you can do that for the forces though as you don't have a contract? Would it help you find to tend with it if you were able to whistle blow?

Sorry you had to experience being bullied - it has such far reaching effects.

Andthentherewasmum Fri 08-Jan-16 21:53:40

I've left now so I doubt it. Plus all the email evidence and witnesses have moved on.

Not sure Im ready to go into details in case it outs me.

Don't know how to deal with the anger.

HeyMacWey Fri 08-Jan-16 21:57:59

More counselling? You need to find a way to accept what happened and process it so you don't feel so angry? Or explore how you respond to the anger and injustice that you feel?

Andthentherewasmum Fri 08-Jan-16 21:58:32

Has anyone else experienced this? How did you let go of it in later years?

FlatOnTheHill Fri 08-Jan-16 22:14:15

Im sorry you have been made to feel this way.
May I ask some questions to get a clearer picture.
How long were you bullied for?
Were you in this persons presence being bullied everyday?
How long ago did this happen?

MelindaMay Fri 08-Jan-16 22:19:05

I experienced years of workplace bullying (not forces though) which caused me to leave a good job. I hope that it won't be the end of my 'career' in the area I am trained to work in. I know how you feel about the long term impact, though. I'm sorry you're going through this, I'm struggling too. sadflowers

bakingaddict Fri 08-Jan-16 22:33:14

I was bullied for many years in my workplace. I did take formal action but it was swept under the carpet as such and I suppose all along I never really expected anybody to deal with the bullying I just wanted to make myself heard. It did make life a bit hard for me as one of the perpetrators stopped me from getting some new jobs by badmouthing my reputation so you do have to be careful when the bullies have a lot of power and influence and can destroy your career. I've got a much better job now and my career is back on track

It's about self survival after what I've been through I'm not sure I'd take the same path. Yes it worked out well for me and they didn't destroy my career but it could of easily gone the other way

Salunabaluna Fri 08-Jan-16 22:36:43

I'm so sorry to hear what you've been through.flowers

I suffered terrible workplace bullying and was never able to take formal action. I honestly found that the only way I was able to let go of the anger was by reading the gentle art of blessing and thinking of those who bullied me in all other aspects of their lives. It somehow helped me to let it go.

bakingaddict Fri 08-Jan-16 22:45:05

I just wanted to add that by keeping the anger you're still letting them have an influence over you. Don't let them control your life any more. Even now when I think back to it I remember the positives such as the good friends I made there and try not to dwell on the bad

Andthentherewasmum Sat 09-Jan-16 07:42:42

Thank you so much for all your replies flowers

I was really nervous about coming back to this thread blush I thought people would slate me for saying negative things about the forces.

I can't give too many details as it would give me away. Briefly, in close contact it went on for about a year and then from a distance they tried to wreck my career for 2-3 years. In summary, senior was I suspect involved with a junior. Junior was somehow threatened by me (tried to tarnish everyone around them to make themselves look good). Junior (same level as me) tried to bully me but I told them where to go! That's when senior started to get involved. Bad mouthing me behind my back for no reason, undermining my work, hiding important information that I was entitled to have (found out later from other source), basically making life very difficult and abusing position of trust. I told HQ and was told they knew what they were both like but a complaint would be pointless. I was offered a posting away which I jumped at, which the they tried to scupper. Didn't want to let me go for some reason. Years later they were still looking for ways to scupper my career, bad mouthing me, creating trouble. In the end I just couldn't take anymore so left.

I'm so angry. One got promoted, the other didn't go any higher. How can they get away with it when it seems everyone 'knew what they were like????'

Andthentherewasmum Sat 09-Jan-16 08:08:23

It's just so much relief to finally talk about it!

I've kept it bottled up for so long because I think I won't be believed or people think I'm exaggerating just how hard it was. People in RL don't want to know. DH has been amazing in supporting me but it makes him angry because he saw some of what was going on.

The counsellor I saw was great. I saw her when I was going through it and she really helped me just get through it step by step but she wanted me to report it which I didn't see the point/couldn't bring myself to because either people looked the other way or were protecting their careers (despite some of them being subjected to similar behaviour).

I just want to talk about it with others who have been through it because I think they would understand. So I thought I'd give mumsnet a try! Really need a virtual circle so share with and talk things through. Honestly I think that would be the best way to heal and finally let go.

Narp Sat 09-Jan-16 08:14:54

Honestly, I think that the people who stand up against bullying are in the minority, especially in situations like yours that involve so much hierarchy and explicit discipline. So you are in lots of company. Please don't berate yourself - don't add to the damage inflicted by the bully.
Your anger is good.

I know you'll find people who have been through it.

SparklyTinselTits Sat 09-Jan-16 08:28:04

OP, I totally understand.
I've previously served, and it pains me to say that this kind of workplace bullying is very common in the forces.
It's not happened to me personally, but I've seen it.
Female soldiers are always the target of workplace "banter"....but there is a very fine line between banter and bullying that is crossed all too often.
Sounds like you were caught in the middle of your senior's episode of "small man syndrome". Sounds like you were good at your job, and the senior in question saw you as a threat to his little slam-pieces's promotion prospects angry
I've seen that before. A female junior ranker was shagging one of the staff sgts on the sly, which we all figured out. As soon as she realised we knew, she went off crying to him about it, and we were all doomed to month upon month of shit jobs, held off of courses etc, just so he could have the idea in his head that we weren't going to blab about his "extracurricular activities". (eventually his wife did find out, junior was swiftly posted out, and senior was charged, demoted, and put on a 5 year promotion ban grin])
I know it's infuriating that nothing was ever done to stop it in your situation, and the anger you feel now is totally understandable. But look at it this way OP:
You are out of the forces, living your own life, doing what you want, when you want and are happy. Those two sad bastards are still in, still throwing their weight around, and all their colleagues know that they are jack cunts who will shit on anyone to climb the promotion ladder! At least you can laugh at them now flowers

BillBrysonsBeard Sat 09-Jan-16 08:37:14

My brother was bullied in the army for being gay, this was back in the 90s.. He said bullying was rife in general though so there will be many like you and him. He felt forced out of a job he loved.. I hope there are better procedures of dealing with it these days.

Andthentherewasmum Sat 09-Jan-16 08:40:25

I flipping love you lot!

I'm sat here in tears because I'm finally talking to people who get it. That is such a relief.

Thanks Narf it's the anger that's the hardest to let go of.

Sparkly you've nailed it. Exactly the same situation but because they were officers people looked the other way angry Small man syndrome is spot on. He was apparently a serial cheat and notorious for it. I think that it was because I was seen as a threat to his shag buddy's career that he bullied me.

SparklyTinselTits Sat 09-Jan-16 08:46:09

Andthen sounds like it! There's always something about a young junior that sends the odd pervy senior nuts, like a bitch on heat. He can't keep his dick in his pants and thinks he is invincible....but then if there's a slight inkling that the wife might find out, he shits himself and does anything in his power to make sure it stays quiet angry

Andthentherewasmum Sat 09-Jan-16 10:25:06

Bill I'm so sorry to hear about your brother's experience sad

I think it entirely depends on where you sit in the organisation. Complaints against senior officers don't tend to go anywhere and get swept under the carpet. Higher echelons look after their own. If you are lower down the food chain then maybe complaints are dealt with more effectively. I've heard good and bad stories though.

Andthentherewasmum Sat 09-Jan-16 10:29:58

Sparkly I agree. So many screwing around on their wives with young juniors. It used to piss me off when you'd go to a work function and they'd have their wife on their arm playing the happy family man when you knew what they'd been upto angry It gets worse though when they abuse that power to promote their bit on the side. I guess it's a very old story that runs across a lot of organisations.

nocoolnamesleft Sat 09-Jan-16 13:41:55

Not in the military, but experienced workplace bullying. I wasn't brave enough to speak up, within a deeply hierarchical system. It really knocked my confidence. Luckily, in my profession at that time, it was the norm to move on pretty frequently, so I got out. You even had someone blocking that escape, which makes it so much worse. I still sometimes wish I could go back and do something, because they're probably still bullying, but like you it would probably have cost me my career. I wasn't that brave. But I've found a way to live with it: now that I'm much more senior, I can protect others from bullying. Only a couple of weeks ago, a formally reported a senior in another department for bullying one of my team. And the team member felt like hey mattered, and someone cared, and it wasn't down to them. And the tear stained victim hiding inside me grew taller and stronger, and stuck two fingers up.

We each need to decide how we deal in the present with the bullies of our past. But speaking up about it at all is a damned good start. You stepped up to defend this country against external enemies. It is appalling that the harm was done to you by your own side.

MelindaMay Sat 09-Jan-16 15:46:34

I don't know if hearing other stories will help or if you'd prefer just to talk about your experiences. So please feel free not to acknowledge this, but in case it does help to hear...

My situation was also in a very hierarchal context, where senior people have plenty of power over juniors. At first I got on well with my bully, but over time things got a bit odd. He'd be very resentful if I did anything he didn't like, and start imagining terrible (and untrue) motives on my part, such as saying I was trying to get one over on him or cut him out, resulting in swearing, shouting and emotional blackmail. At first I blamed myself and tried to work out what I was doing wrong to cause it, but over several years it got more and more extreme, until I finally spoke up. Then came the gas lighting, the turning things around so I was to blame, the denials etc. I ended up very isolated, it affected my mental health quite badly and it harmed my reputation with people who didn't know me, as he'd be happy to gossip and cast me in as poor a light as possible. Probably still is doing that, IFAIK.

He's still there, and I'm still angry, though the mental health issues have eased off a lot. What helped me to come to terms with it to some extent (still an ongoing process) was a very supportive group of friends who could listen and reassure me that the negative thoughts I was having about myself, all the second guessing that I was doing, weren't right. I think ultimately, as a pp said, is to recognise that you can't change what happened, but you can learn from it and move on (hey, isn't that the Lion King! grin) determined to get free of the negative emotional effects.

Andthentherewasmum Sat 09-Jan-16 16:00:47

cool sounds you've turned a negative experience into a positive and are really vigilant about bullying in the workplace. Thanks for the last paragraph it brought a lump to my throat blush

Melinda it does help to hear the experiences of others. I felt very isolated when I went through it and part of me still does. Sharing makes me feel I wasn't alone and other's felt and reacted the same way I did. I think the gaslighting is the worst bit. I suffered mental health issues as a result and almost went back into that dark place after I had left and was confronted with the fact that they were still going to make trouble.

WhatALoadOfOldBollocks Sat 09-Jan-16 16:45:35

Andthentherewasmum, I've no experience or advice, but are there any support groups/forums for ex-services personnel who have been bullied?

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