Gearing up for the big scribble

04Aug09

As with most endeavors regarding further education, my Masters in Journalism is going to be finalised by a titanic arrangement of words to make me look clever.

Unlike most degrees, a Journalism degree does not require months of academic muttering while thumbing through the pages of lengthy, esoteric tomes. That is why I love journalism, it is in touch with the real world. No, my “dissertation” will be a series of five or six glorified features all orbiting around the same subject matter. It will require months of muttering swear words and playing back interviews on my dictaphone, not to mention keeping up to speed on my legal bits and bobs but at least I don’t have to live in a library

We are told that the best writers write about what they know and so I am writing my series of features on the adult victims of bullying.

Now I have never been bullied as an adult but I was bullied as a girl. Unfortunately as so many victims will know, it was one of those situations that lasted for years and years because nobody believed that the bully (a sweet little daughter of a barrister) would ever lay a finger on anybody. Bruises and a miserable demeanor were put down to being a clumsy hockey player on the cusp of puberty. In the end it took one teacher to spot it just in a simple classroom conversation that could have so easily been overlooked. He remains my hero to this day because at that point I was painfully unhappy and doing ridiculous things in a bid for attention.

My decision to back the subject of bullying is enhanced by my  position as a “summer vacation” legal secretary for an employment lawyer. There I read so many interesting cases. There were literally hundreds of women out of work because they had fallen pregnant which, to me, seemed utterly unbelievable because it is such a dated and sexist principal to boot a woman for that reason! There were women who had been sexually harassed at work after maybe a little flirting at an office party went too far and spilled into the weeks after. There were cases for constructive dismissal with grounds in both racial and disability discrimination. Cases for men who were being bullied by women and cases for young people being bullied by older people… the cabinets full of active cases were bursting with the sorts of things you just couldn’t believe people had got away with!

So many cases. In all the stories I read the victim was practically destroyed through losing a job and an income, through the verbal blitzing of their self-esteem or the utter demolition of their confidence after having endured blow after blow day after day of abuse.

What surprised me the most was the abundance of these seemingly old-fashioned cases. It is illegal to dismiss somebody because they are having a baby. It is illegal to dismiss somebody because they are disabled. Yet it is happening and who knew to this scale?

This is why I have chosen Adult Victims of Bullying as the focus of my series of features – because people just don’t know how common it really is!

If anybody reading my blog today is based in the UK and would like to share their story, or knows somebody willing to share their story, then I would be most grateful if you would contact me on my University email.

R.E.Brooke@pgt.salford.ac.uk

The series is intended for publication in local press, online and glossy publications and so it is perfectly reasonable to request your identity remain obscured. All stories will be backed up with comments from an employment lawyer or bullying counselor and will be intended to be completed for publishing in time for Anti-Bullying week (16th – 22nd November).

I am looking for people who want to raise awareness by telling their stories from all aspects of the bullying spectrum.

  • Constructive dismissal
  • Racial, gender or disability related
  • Pregnancy
  • Within families
  • Within friendship groups
  • From a partner, spouse or child
  • Within the Forces
  • Within local government

Or any other case which you feel needs awareness raising.

R.E.Brooke@pgt.salford.ac.uk

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