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incident at work, worsening anxiety

(20 Posts)
havingabadhairday Wed 09-Nov-16 11:29:37

Name change because too many people I know might recognise my usual name.

There was an incident at work a few weeks ago, it was a minor thing, but definitely crossed a line. It's been dealt with but I've not seen the guy since. I know I will at some point and feel panicked way past what is reasonable.

I should say I was abused as a child and what happened was incredibly triggering, so not minor to me. Obviously I didn't bring this side of things up with work. I'm also on medication for anxiety, which work does know about.

How can I deal with this? How can I deal with seeing this guy again? I'm worried I'm going to be so anxious that I end up over explaining or worse, actually apologising to him.

Itisnoteasybeingdifferent Wed 09-Nov-16 17:40:48

Are you able to say more about the incident of the "trigger" and how it related to your earlier experience?

Also, what does he know about your past?

havingabadhairday Wed 09-Nov-16 18:12:53

He knows nothing. I don't know him that well, we were friendly but it was purely a work relationship. No socialising or anything. He always seemed ok.

Don't want to say to much about what happened. It wasn't overtly sexual, probably wasn't intended as sexual at all, but it was physical contact. He didn't do anything similar to what happened, but the physical sensation of what he did was similar to a physical sensation that I very much associate with the abuse. Does that make any sense?

AnxiousCarer Wed 09-Nov-16 20:35:45

Hi, I had a similar sounding situation with a senior work collegue a few months ago. And even with no history of abuse found it very difficultto deal with.

In my situation the collegue had too much to drink on a work night out. It gradually went from friendly to overfriendly and all of a sudden I realised a line had been crossed (a lot of leg touching, followed by telling me I was beautiful and how much he was enjoying getting to know me and kissing me on the cheek) I just froze, smiled nodded was polite and didn't know how to get out of the situation without causing a scene infront of all our collegues.

We are both married and I felt very guilty. It was only when I discussed it with my boss and she also felt his behaviour was inappropriate that I finally realised that I wasn't the one who should be feeling guilty.

I've not said anything about it to him, the oppoetunitys never been there, though if he followed up the previous behaviour I would say something. He's stayed completely professional in work so although I'm still wary and a little uncomfortable arround him itsactually been ok.

Itisnoteasybeingdifferent Wed 09-Nov-16 21:37:59

Reminds me of an incident from many many years ago. In a group of friends I met up with a very attractive young girl, (we were teenagers). I tried to chat her up as she seemed vefy interesting..

Crash and burn. Everything I tried got nowhere and I began to feel like a total flop... Only later when I was talking to my best friend did I find out that she had been raped... I can only guess that she saw me as a threat because I was a strange male trying to get close...

Had I known about her past I would never have tried to chat her up... Problem is that she can't exactly go about wearing a badge saying "I got raped" so I could never have known. And yes I would happily castrate whoever did that to her.

havingabadhairday Wed 09-Nov-16 22:21:25

He's stayed completely professional in work

I hope this is going to be the case. He's not allowed to be in the same room as me without someone else there, so surely hrs not going to bring it up?

I usually love my job, but just feel sick with worry now. I know I'm catastrophising but I can't seem to stop, I feel like I'm stuck in a loop with it sad

havingabadhairday Wed 09-Nov-16 22:35:26

Itsnoteasy this guy might not know my past, but he does know I'm married. And I definitely don't flirt, so I don't think he can have got the wrong idea.

Obviously my extreme (and private - he's not aware of how upset I actually am) reaction is not his fault, I don't expect people to know what happened to me if I've not told them, but he still crossed a line. It's been sort of implied to me in a 'I shouldn't be telling you this but think you ought to know' sort of way that he doesn't really think he did, so that's not making me feel better.

Itisnoteasybeingdifferent Thu 10-Nov-16 07:27:25

Perhaps .... if you are catastrophising the event whilst he doesn't know what caused your reaction, it may be be worthwhile having things opened out. If so I suggest you arrange it with HR in attendance.

Unless he is a total shit, he should appreciate how something that was seemingly innocent can cause a problem for you.

havingabadhairday Thu 10-Nov-16 13:21:26

Don't see why I should tell him - and HR - something about myself that not even my family know. It's really not something I want to discuss with people I work with. This is not a common occurrence, and I absolutely do not want anyone tiptoeing round me or treating me differently.

AnxiousCarer Thu 10-Nov-16 19:17:04

I think itsnoteasy has a point about mediation with him and HR. You don't neccesarily need to tell them about the abuse. Just let him know how his behavior has made you feel.

On the otherhand I know its not an easy thing to do. I suspect my collegue doesn't think he crossed a line either. I suspect he has no idea I felt uncomfortable with his behaviour either as although I've discussed it with my manager I didn't want to take it any furthur (she is not his manager) unless it turned out to be more than a drunken one off. I also ironicly had to deal with a situation where a member of staff told me one of my staff had made inappropriate comments to her but didn't want him to know she had said anything. Not an easy one!

pklme Thu 10-Nov-16 19:40:41

So sorry to hear this has unsettled you so much.
People can genuinely not realise why pushy behaviour is so unwelcome.
Could you ask HR to meet him again and reiterate that his behaviour can be far more upsetting than he realises? You can tell them that it is triggering for you without explaining why.

havingabadhairday Thu 10-Nov-16 22:31:38

It's not a bad idea.

Is it just me being paranoid, or if I use the word 'triggering' is that just basically outing myself as a survivor? Is there a different way of phrasing it?

Maybe just a general I don't like to be touched would suffice? Makes a clear boundary, doesn't really need further explanation. Though I know it doesn't help so much if he thinks there was nothing wrong with his behaviour.

Itisnoteasybeingdifferent Fri 11-Nov-16 08:49:04


I can understand your reticence to talk about what happened, but the fact is you are a survivor. Whatever happened you sre still here... you survived and that puts you in a very special group of people. In short, you are different to others.

Many people have feelings of guilt for surviving along the lines of "why me when all about me didn't survive". They get flashbacks for years and it scars them for ever. Whilst, I am guessing that your "event" was not a tsunami or similar, it is clearly still affecting you. Whatever happened, you have no reason to feel guilty or carry a sense of blame on your shoulders.

I have to observe I am concerned that you say your family don't know about it. It seems you are carrying a secret from those closest to you. I suspect that doesn't help.

good luck and keep posting...

pklme Fri 11-Nov-16 08:58:23

You could talk about a 'history of trauma', 'PTSD' or 'significant sensory issues'.

I understand you wanting your privacy. Every environment is different, and only you can judge how safe your HR department are with a hint that you have history.

If you are sufficiently vague, you could raise the question in their mind without giving them enough to actually confirm it.

Maybe 'there are people for whom this is even worse- statistically, many people have a trauma history, sensitivities and PTSD. You can't assume that the next person he does it to will cope with it. Personal circumstances mean that I am more aware of the impact this kind of thing can have than most people. It has to be seen as very serious.'

Statistically, you are not by any means alone in your situation.

Tiggywinkler Fri 11-Nov-16 09:01:53

Taking away any history of anything, you have the right not to be touched.

You don't have to explain yourself to him, but if he makes you feel uncomfortable, I'd practise some phrases, "please respect my space", "I'd like you to back up a little" - whatever you think you could say. Then use them.

havingabadhairday Fri 11-Nov-16 10:43:55

I have to observe I am concerned that you say your family don't know about it. It seems you are carrying a secret from those closest to you. I suspect that doesn't help.

noteasy I was a mess afterwards, didn't cope very well but went to enormous lengths to keep that hidden because I didn't want to hurt or upset people I care about. I've since had counseling which helped immensely, and tbh have been fine since - until this incident which unfortunately also coincided with some other stressful events, which is why I'm on medication for anxiety. I don't think there's any benefit for me in telling anyone else right now, in fact I think it would just add to the anxiety.

DH knows about the abuse, but he's the only one.

Thanks pklme and Tiggywinkler

Itisnoteasybeingdifferent Fri 11-Nov-16 11:08:00

At least you have told hubby.

Time is a help, in the end you seem to forget things.. which can be good

AnxiousCarer Fri 11-Nov-16 16:58:36

If coucelling helped before would it be worth another go at this to help you get through this rough patch?

havingabadhairday Fri 11-Nov-16 17:03:02

I'm actually on the waiting list, but it's a long wait sad. Six months last time, don't know what it will be this time.

AnxiousCarer Sat 12-Nov-16 00:03:19

Thats rubbish, but standard I think. Would it be any quicker through occupational health at work I only had a 2 week wait with them at my work.

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