Case 041 - Marketing Communications Company

In 1999 I began to work for an electronics company. My job was working as a Production Assistant for a Marketing Communications department. I was looking forward to performing the role immensely as it involved working for a graphic designer, something that I've always wanted to do. The job was really varied and the work was exciting.

However, little did I know I was going to receive endless abuse from A, my Marketing Communications Manager. For the first week I was slightly nervous about creating a good impression but slowly tried to build up my skills and mould myself into the job....by about week four, that was it...the start of the end. My fellow studio members would be working away efficiently and with common sense, and then she would enter.

A seemed to hold something over each member of the studio, who would each become a different person when she was around. She soon began to haul me into a side room regularly, for what I thought would be appraisal sessions, but what really turned out to be systematic bullying. I entered the job as a confident BA(Hons) graduate and she squashed me down into a gibbering, self-conscious wreck with absolutely no self-esteem or self-worth or belief in my ability to do anything right at all.

During one of these "sessions" she complained that every day at about 2.30 pm I would stare out of the window for the rest of the day. I worked damned hard in that job and was really enthusiastic about learning the ropes. She regularly remarked on my "lack of ability to perform tasks with any sense of urgency." (I know it sounds stupid but I've tried to block out a lot of the remarks she said). What she basically tried to do was to squash my intelligence and keep me down at the lowest level she could. On another occasion I was asked to recall a document for someone at the end of the day. I was in the process of doing this when I genuinely had to go the toilet, and ran there because I was busy doing the job I had been asked to do and also wanted to get home on time....and then when it came to my pay review and appraisal...BANG..."I'm not giving you a pay increase because you got stressed out and had to run to the toilet to hide when you were given a job to do that you couldn't handle!!!" Uhhh!....you can't imagine how unbelievably frustrating the whole thing was for me. You can tell someone that this wasn't the case until you're black and blue, but if they're not listening, they're not listening.

In these meetings I finally could never say what I wanted to say or defend myself because I'd be sobbing my heart out. I couldn't stand up to such a fiery red-headed control freak. A much older lady who worked in reception used to do the job before me. That's one of the reasons she changed job there, because A would upset her all the time. On one occasion they had a huge argument and the older woman stormed out into the car park. A went after her...and began sobbing herself. That's how unbelievably insecure she was. Then she would do things like buy big cream cakes for everybody to make up for the fact that she'd been a complete bitch in some way or another. I-N-S-E-C-U-R-E!!!! She also played people off each other.

In the end I realized the graphic designer was "reporting back" to her on my supposed lack of ability...and so I read an email he had sent to her. Because she wanted to know absolutely everything about what was going on, including our bowel movements, there was a long email and then at the bottom it referred to me as "immature in certain circumstances". At that point I was 26. They were all in their early forties. Thank God she left to have a baby for a few months, but I timed my departure nicely with her return to work later, leaving the way for another poor sod to bare the brunt of her vindictive attitude. She was actually squeezed out of the company in the end.

It's funny but the studio took on a completely different air when she left ... maybe people had time to realize what life was like without her ... a lot less stressful and more down to earth. A friend there said I could have sued the company for her bullying, but as I had only been there for a couple of months, I couldn't join the union. Plus I was trying so hard to impress her so that she would give me a good reference that I didn't want to cause a scene. A Catch 22 situation. I can actually try and describe this feeling as being autistic or mute in some way or another. I know I am an extremely intelligent woman, capable of many things and I know I would make a brilliant project manager or something like that. But she just kept hurling this abuse at me day after day, one-to-one..."you lack self-confidence", "you're lazy" etc etc and I just seemed to absorb all of this negativity and couldn't answer back, I would literally be shaking.

Consequently this has stuck with me since then and it never seems to go away. She's damaged my vision of myself and I'd really like her to realize what a bad force she is on people. I've got baggage and I'd like someone to remove it please. My only fear is that she's join some other firm now and had chosen some other poor graduate to bully endlessly and crush. I actually remember sitting in my car and sobbing in the car park after work some days, all for the poxy sum of £11,500 per year.

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