‘Staying was not good for my health’


NOS . News

Bad comment from the manager. This started the bullying that Marianne* (37) had to deal with in the office. In the team in which she had always enjoyed working, she was increasingly left out.

Nearly 240,000 Dutch people over the age of 15 were bullied last year, according to new figures published today by Statistics Netherlands and the Ministry of Security and Justice. This also happens in the workplace: 1 in 8 employees is a victim of bullying.

It’s not about one bad joke that hurts someone. “Bullying is structural. It happens over and over and always targets the same person,” says Laura Willems, president of Bullying in the Workplace Foundation. “It is gossiping, making fun of, belittling or making someone’s job unpleasant or difficult. The most common form of bullying is to isolate and ignore someone.”

More than half of the victims in the survey said they had psychological or emotional problems as a result of bullying. “Stress, insomnia, and GI pain. This happens relatively quickly after the bullying starts, often after six weeks,” Willems says.

no good morning

The manager that Marianne bumped into made her life miserable. “It started with not saying ‘good morning’ when I came in in the morning. And when I went for a cup of coffee, she didn’t do it anymore for me,” she says.

By leaving it as if the offender gets away with it.


According to Marianne, few colleagues defended her. The few colleagues I spoke to did their best, but the situation did not change. Going to the secret advisor was not an option: this was the director in question himself.

Marianne says that after a while, the decision to resign was made. “It’s a tough decision if you love the company and your position and only one person bothers you. But staying wasn’t good for my health.” It describes feeling helpless. “By leaving, it is as if the offender is getting away with it.”

Bullying hurts entire teams

Willems points out that the responsibility for tackling bullying now rests mainly with victims like Marian, not with colleagues or supervisors. According to the institution, that should change.

“We can all do so much about it together. The most important thing is for organizations to realize that bullying is harmful to entire teams. Insider the people know: If that fellow who is being bullied pulls out, someone is next,” says Willems. “It is in everyone’s best interest to advocate for victims and ensure that colleagues do not engage in bullying behaviour.”

After quitting her job, Marianne would sit at home for a while to recuperate, “because that wouldn’t bother you.” I have since found another post.

*The name Marianne is known to the editors.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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