WORKPLACE bullying is on the rise with one in five Australians targeted, according to psychologist Sophie Henshaw.
The Cockburn local was bullied at the start of her career when she worked in a maximum-security prison.
Her tormentor drove her to the edge, but was never held to account.
Dr Henshaw was lucky to have professional training to draw on, but many end up damaged psychologically and become “emotional paraplegics”.
“They are unable to leave their homes, work or drive,” she says.
Workplace bullies are rarely brought to task and often the victim is painted as a troublemaker.
“HR is there to protect the company not you,” Dr Henshaw says.
A whopping 70 per cent of those bullied lose their job, but less than 13 per cent of bullies suffer the same fate.
“And less than 4 per cent of bullies change their behaviour,” claims Dr Henshaw.
She says those picked on are often empathetic, competent and popular with other staff — and usually women.
“They are targeted because they pose a threat to the person doing the bullying,” she says.
“These people will often give [bullies] the benefit of the doubt.
“But they are still stressed out.
“This is where I want to help people, to recognise these symptoms before it’s too late.”
Dr Henshaw treats clients suffering from severe depression and stress as a result of workplace bullying and has been a keynote speaker on the subject.
From personal experience and those of her clients, she knows the traps that unsuspecting victims fall into.
“Which is why I developed the walk away from work stress program,” she says.
“I identify narcissists and show people how to weather a crisis, how to stay strong emotionally, how to deal with stress and how to teflon your self-esteem,” she says.
Dr Henshaw has written two books on workplace bullying, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and other media.
For more information go to freespiritedme.com or call Dr Henshaw on 042 223 2089.
by JENNY D’ANGER