How depressing – new research from the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University found that employees with disabilities are twice as likely to be attacked at work and experience higher rates of insults, ridicule and intimidation.
Sadly, I am not surprised, given my own experience (read more here).
The research shows 12.3% of people with disabilities or a long-term illness were humiliated, gossiped about and ignored, compared to 7.4% of people without disabilities.
Similarly, 10.5% of disabled people had been attacked at work, compared to 4.5% of non-disabled people.
Any bullying at work is unacceptable, but the bullying of people struggling to make a living whilst coping with the challenges a disability brings is simply heinous. Why does this happen? Does it start in the school playground when anyone ‘different’ is singled out for ridicule – the child with glasses, the kid with spots?
A bully is essentially a weak person exerting power and authority over those they deem even weaker than themselves to boost their own fragile ego. The person being bullied may find it harder to fight back if they are also disabled or have a long-term illness – in my case, I was adjusting to my diagnosis of MS, the implications it would have for my life, family and career and also going through Alemtuzumab treatment. At times it felt as if I was fighting a war on several fronts.
Why did I put up with this treatment? The daily humiliation tore at my soul and took me down to the darkest depths of despair. One evening, shortly before I was sacked, I sent The Teenager to a friend, sat on my sofa and cried myself hoarse. I was utterly defeated and broken. I had reached my absolute limit. Three people had systematically destroyed my self-confidence and belief in myself in a way no diagnosis of MS ever could.
I stayed as I was determined to remain in work, at least until I found a better job. I accepted the treatment meted out to me, I plastered a false smile on my face which barely hid my pain. Inside I was dying. Five months on, I am slowly rebuilding myself. The damage has run deep, the humiliation deeper.
I will return to my former self and I will be stronger.