Stay strong, victim says

Tomorrow is Pink Shirt Day, when people are encouraged to take a stand against bullying. The Express talks to people who have been on both sides of the bullying divide.

Anyone who feels they are being bullied needs to be strong and do something about it, says a Blenheim woman who was bullied at work for years.

"Don't back down," she said. "It's important to front up."

Tomorrow is Pink Shirt Day, the day to show support for action against bullying. A rally with everyone attending encouraged to wear a pink shirt, is to be held at the grandstand at Lansdowne Park at 4pm.

The Blenheim woman, who worked in a shop for more than a decade before quitting her job after years of being bullied by her manager, contacted the Express after reading about Marlborough's anti-bullying campaign.

"I thought if I spoke out perhaps it will help other people," she said.

When she first started working at the shop, her boss came across as nice, she said.

But it didn't take long before he started talking about another staff member to the rest of his employees.

He would say horrible things to the staff member, making her feel like she was doing her job wrong, the woman said.

After a while, the victim of his bullying quit.

The woman was eventually promoted to a more senior position and work was going well until a new person was hired.

Her boss started mentioning the new staff member wanted more hours at work and was threatening to leave if she didn't get them.

"He asked me if I would consider giving her some of my hours because he didn't want to lose the woman," she said.

He started teaching the new staff member how to do her job, the woman said.

She began to feel pressured when her boss continued to say how the shop couldn't afford to lose the staff member. Eventually, he asked her to step down, but she didn't want to leave, she said.

The stress caused by the constant badgering began to affect her home life.

She told her boss she would give up some hours, despite needing the money. But he told her that wouldn't be enough to keep the new person at work because she wanted a promotion.

She eventually decided it was best to step down from her role but still work at the shop.

"In the end it got really nasty," she said. "I said: ‘I can't stand this bullying from you'."

She took a personal grievance against her boss and received compensation, but not enough to make up for losing her income, she said.

But she was proud of herself for standing up to her boss and never doubted what she did was right.

"It's such an insidious thing to do to someone," she said. "It's cruel, it's soul destroying."

She did not regret leaving.

"I knew I wasn't being treated right," she said. "It's hard for kids, but I think it's almost worse when you're older, because you lose your confidence."

Anyone who felt they were being bullied needed to be strong and do something about it, she said. "Don't back down . . . It's important to front up."

The Marlborough Express