Wednesday, September 5, 2012
5:40 am edt
After I took a medical leave. I had a month. My family doctor diagnosed me with "anxiety" due to stressors
in the workplace. He and I didn't really know much about workplace bullying then, we just knew I was a crying and anxious
mess. During that month, during the beginning of even the possibility of recuperation, I was subpoenaed for a lawsuit a parent
had against a teacher at my former school. The accusation was that the teacher had bullied the child and had incited students
to do the same. This is the case that the other counselor and the administration had handled. I was excluded.
think I was subpoenaed by the plaintiff and her family as an "expert witness" in that I was an Olweus Bullying Prevention
Program trainer on leave for having been bullied at that school. I imagine, had I been called to the witness stand, that my
role would have been to testify about the toxic work environment in which all of the alleged bullying against the student
had happened. I imagine I would have been questioned about my own efforts in preventing bullying for children at that school.
I would have told the truth. I would have said that, although I was not directly involved with that particular
case, that the leadership of the school's principal had created an environment of fear and divisiveness among his staff. I
may have been asked about my own experience.
Please remember that at that time I was supposed to be "recuperating."
Please remember that I had just, just, just left the battlefield of my former school when the subpoena arrived on
my front porch.
Please imagine the stark terror I felt upon contemplating--just two weeks following my departure
from that place of abuse-- testifying against him.
Please feel the surge of fear as I stood on my front porch
with my house keys in one hand and the subpoena in the other.
Please understand that I knew my truth would stand
alone. I knew my school district would have my testimony stand like a target on the blank wall--I would not have chosen the
blindfold--in front of the attorney's firing squad. My district leadership was not on "my side."
fear--the pounding blood, the sleeplessness and all the ill effects that go with them--was with me entering the courthouse.
Local newscasters were everywhere. Had I been put on the stand, it would probably have been a good story.
Flash! School Bullying Prevention Trainer Bullied Out of a Job!"
Certainly my testimony would have bolstered
the plaintiff's case.
I sat with the plaintiff and her family in the waiting room. Just that simple and true act
was, I suppose, a statement: a declaration of "war" to my former principal.
His "side" was
full. I imagine most everyone on "that side"was too scared to sit with the plaintiff--or even to talk with her or
with her family. Looking back, I cannot blame them, for on "that side" sat the school district's attorney and many
other high level administrators. The attorney was physically present. The high level administrators were there in spirit.
I knew. I felt their presence. It was not a good feeling.
I imagine some of my colleagues sitting on "that
side" saw me and wished they could join me. I imagine others were outraged and indignant to see me there because inside
they knew--ah, yes, they knew--that they were supporting a lying and cheating individual and his abusive leadership. They
knew I was not supporting it. Many hated me for it. I do not blame them. They, like me, were--and are, for he is still the
principal--really, really scared. Rightfully so.
That was the last time I saw him. He, too, had been subpoenaed.
As he entered the courthouse waiting area, his eyes met mine. He saw me with the plaintiff's family. His eyes spoke of his
raw desire to destroy me.
The judge, in the end, decided not to put me on the stand.
Two weeks into
my month of "recuperation" , and with only two weeks left before I was to return to work--and now with full knowledge
of being perceived as "his enemy"--do not, school district, try and convince me otherwise, particularly now that
I know of all of his other abuses of other employees who you sent back or fired or transferred--I wasn't "recuperating"much.
Following the trial, I decided to continue to live truthfully. I knew I could not return to my school in two weeks.
I knew mine was an army of one--me--and his was an army of hundreds. There was no way, particularly following the trial, that
I would be safe at that school. So I pulled out my cannon. I turned my bullying principal in formally for bullying and harassment.
I also visited my "field hospital" and got some real help from a therapist who understood the lasting
effects of abuse. My therapist understood that I was a "just fine" person who had experienced abuse and diagnosed
me properly with "Acute Specific Stress Disorder." She also helped me in giving me six months off or until the "issue
of workplace bullying was resolved."
More story coming up...at your request. I've come to understand
the effects of abuse never end. It's what we do with it all that counts.