Updated 21st March 2019
The narrative in the previous tab describes how I was abused by a Psychologist at Lift Stress Management, Swindon (Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust - AWP), during its setup in 2006. After reporting this, I was subjected to abuse and a hate campaign, lies about my work, personality & behaviour, culminating in a trumped-up performance management. When this began to fail, the bully recruited seniors by claiming I bullied her ('victim-bully'). I was not believed because the bully used her knowledge of psychology to garner recruits (bully supports) among senior colleagues. THIS IS NOT JUST MY STORY - IT IS COMMONPLACE.
Despite claims to uphold human rights, AWP failed to investigate fairly, admit responsibility or deal with miscreants. A bungled 'Dignity' investigation passed like a hot cake between THREE senior staff before being dropped. An 'investigation' I requested by BANES Health Commissioners also quietly 'disappeared' without the promised opportunity for me to present evidence. My protests were met with a wall of silence and I was labelled a trouble-maker. A pathetic 'settlement' made during my trauma ('coerced' settlement) was mispresented to my MP. So it went on..
You might think this far-fetched but reports in NHS journals & The Guardian prove bullying to be prevalent in the NHS. An analysis of workplace bullying will be explored fully in a future work by Marianne Richards. For victim support read, Beating the Bully, available now on Amazon.
Surviving Mental Abuse
The first necessity, before analysis or redress, is victim recovery. All victims of bullying MUST receive support as a matter of urgency. I asked my GP how long a nervous breakdown takes to heal and he confirmed up to 10 years. In my experience that is about right - it tallies with my slow recovery after being mentally abused (bullied) nearly 13 years ago. It is only in the last couple of years I returned to myself or, rather, new self. Like a river we never pass the same place twice. Time and experience change us.
All survivors need justice & closure. It is important for victims and helpers to find a way of dealing with the emotional fallout. The most important is 'telling the story', a process toxic firms will prevent at all costs. These are methods I have used during my long recovery:
When you have lost everything, you have nothing more to fear. Human weaknesses happens everywhere - even AWP; though toxic employers treat complainants as 'liars', 'malcontents', 'malicious', 'vindictive' - or (if lucky) 'mistaken'. Do not expect to be believed but retain your self belief at all times.
Duplicity at Senior Level
A naive firm will act incredulously when senior staff are reported of wrong doing or malpractice. Panicking, they will attempt to coverup malpractices and wrongdoing. I described how Board member/HR Officer Christopher Stancliffe wrote '[xxx] must be true.. these were two psychologists'. So what of the AWP psychologist fired, after an embarrassing interval, for down-loading child pornography? You might consider his remark merely misguided; unshakeable belief in the veracity of psychologists. It was not. It was part of a coverup e.g. asking IT to withold documents, altering documents and spreading hearsay instead of acting professionally and impartially. It is this sort of behaviour which denies victims justice.
Evading Responsibility & Impartial Investigation
Most victims are left in financial difficulty, unable to afford legal representation. This puts them at huge disadvantage when organisations like AWP spend £tens of thousands for 'employment legal experts' to prevent evidence reaching court. For example, I lost at High Court after 13 years of legal gamesmanship and delaying tactics. That does not mean justice has been done. I lost on a legal technicality, not because my case was judged. My experience has exposed huge flaws in HR & legal procedures which must be eradicated. We who survive have a duty to change things. Who else will? Who else has the knowledge?
Lacunas can only be eradicated through new legislation; changes to Tribunal systems, making ACAS compulsory for bullying at work investigations. My story proves in-house HR 'investigations' to be biased, bungled and skewed and the 'investigators' incompetent.
Failure of Help Agencies
The professed help agencies you might presume impartial, who should demand answers, not swayed by links with miscreants, are likely to let you down. Why? They want an easy life. They often know protagonists as colleagues, friends, members of social or masonic circles.
AWP Complaints, PALS, BANES Commissioners; investigators Debbie Spaull, Anne Booth and Alan Metherall - these individuals who exited the arena in my case rather thn acting professionally and impartially. This is another reason investigations need to be undertaken by professional mediators like ACAS.
Lies told to MP
Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote no less than seven letters on my behalf, but was fed half-baked truths by CE's Iaian Tulley through the wormtongues. There never was a proper investigation; neither was the bully investigated despite overwhelming evidence of wrong-doing.
The 'settlement' was a draconian sum forced on me by Barrister Anya Palmer whilst I was being treated for depression resulting from the trauma. AWP even denied my disability. Head of Psychology, Dr Bill Jerrom, admitted to AWP Solicitor his settlement was punitive - they were punishing me because they believed the bully without question. This is why the Harold Shipman's of this life can get away with dangerous behaviours.
I have an enduring memory, a long, harrowing email I sent to Bath CAMHS staff, having been forced to leave my admin post as above. I read my email the other day. Manager Peter Wilson responded not to me but to CAMHS staff (child psychologists and psychiatrists). He told them to ignore me. This sums up the astonishing attitude of AWP. Were it not for one brave soul who wrote me a short, encouraging response, I would have ended myself. Sad to say, I can neither name her nor other supporters, in case their careers are affected.
Where to Now?
Nietzsche says, 'that which does not kill us makes us stronger.' You might lose the war but you can use the experience for the good- to battle for human rights.
'I want my dignity'. 'I want my respect back'. 'I want my life back'. 'I want my home back'. 'I want a proper compensation for the loss of which might have been a 13 year career in research'. I want AWP to face their responsibility - to me and others who suffered this vile regime. I want the bully, bully supports and wormtongues to admit wrongdoing and JOIN OUR CAMPAIGN - something I would never dreamed of suggesting until recently.
Please join our campaign: tell your story to your MP and enclose a copy of the campaign for FAIR DEALING. Write confidentially via the contact page with comment/support. Alone we are helpless, TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Jan/Feb 2019: story removed under news embargo, pending imminent Appeal in The Royal Courts of Justice, London. Journalists: use 'contact' to request further information.
Marianne's latest work 'Beating the Bully' is a comprehensive manual to empower victims of bullying, whether in families, school, the workplace or community. The following is based on Marianne's experience of workplace bullying in the roles of victim, bystander and upstander. There are clear patterns in workplace bully environments: this will be fully explored in a work-in-progress, 'Managing the Bully: A Guide for HR's & Other Concerned Professionals.
Together we can make a difference. This means campaigning for change in the law and HR systems nationwide. And persuading employers to do the right thing.
SUPPORT WELCOME from campaigners, bullied-out professionals or well wishers. To join us, go to the Campaign tab & copy the bullet points to your MP - include a summary of your experience.
Marianne's guides to mental illness received professional acclaim. Two new works are now on sale, 'Finding Time' & 'Beating the Bully.'