“Most targets report being completely surprised and shocked to discover they are victims of abuse. The question about the timing of the discovery of the term workplace bullying — being able to externalize the problem and understand that targets are not responsible for the instigation of the bullying — explains the surprise. For most targets, labeling of the experience is delayed,” explains the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). According to their 2013 poll, in 64 percent of reported workplace bullying cases, targets identified incidents of abusive conduct as workplace bullying after the fact. “Delay exacerbates bullying-related stress and postpones taking steps to reverse the situation.”
Not surprisingly, when most targets (72 percent) did discover the term workplace bullying, they found it online more than anywhere else. But what is surprising is that in most of these cases, online resources were the biggest source of help; targets did not receive or pursue help from other sources.
A possible reason for not seeking out help outside online resources is shame, and the lack of outside help may exacerbate health problems if virtual human connection is insufficient in bringing targets out of isolation.
A logical solution is holding employers accountable for workplace bullying through law so they’ll educate their staff about workplace bullying. The gap between being bullied and learning the term will no longer exist and will cut down on (but not eliminate) bullying-related stress when targets know they’re not the problem.