FAQ

Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Correctional Services toxic workplace

GB3000
Community Member

Hi everyone, 

I’d like to tell you my story of how I was a victim of workplace bullying. I worked for the department of correctional services in a high security prison. I have been with the department for well over 7 years and have seen some very interesting things. I’m a 6 ft 31 year old man of aboriginal heritage. During my years with the service, I have been assaulted, threatened to be killed, have had piss and shit thrown at me, all these things have happened to me but I accepted it as part of my job, dealing with the worst of society. But nothing has brought me to my knees as bad as being victim to cruel and inhumane workplace bullying at the hands of my work colleagues. Just recently my ex girlfriend had taken her life due to circumstances I can’t comment on and it’s left me in a state of grief, thoughts of whether I’m to blame for her demise and could I have done more to help her. I had found some sort of level of peace and had come to terms with it after a few months. Until one day, I decided to have lunch at the staff, the first time I have been to the staff mess since the passing of my ex. I was sitting down enjoying a nice hot bowl of soup when my supervisor walks in. He immediately begins to crack his jokes and dark humour, takes one look over at me and says “Geez mate, you’ve got a pretty shit track record of women” and I pause and say “How’s that mate? To which he replies “Well you’ve gotten one pregnant and ya last one killed herself” those words completely breached my thick skin and cut into my soul, it was as if I was glued to my seat, I couldn’t move I couldn’t speak when all I wanted to do was get up and leave. To end this conversation my supervisor laughs and said “I bet you raped her to? I was In complete and utter shock! I knew this man for 7 years of my working career in corrections, he was like a mentor, a friend, a brother whom I had confided in during the loss of my ex. He used it all against me to grandstand himself in front of all our peers at the staff mess. I wrote him up the next day which is a cardinal sin according to the Blue shirt code. It still hasn’t given me peace and has caused nothing but anxiety and worry! I can’t sleep and I’m not eating, I feel so on edge all the time. I’m hoping this investigation will give me clarity. Thank you for allowing me to voice this story. 

Anyone else have a similar story? 

8 Replies 8

Sophie_M
Moderator
Moderator
Dear GB3000

We welcome you to the online forums and thank you for having the courage to share what you have been going through at work; it can have a huge impact on our mental health and it’s great that you have reached out for support this evening.
 
Bullying in any form is never ok, it's not acceptable and the first step to addressing this is making those who perpetrate accountable for their behaviour.  We can hear how difficult this was for you to have endured and imagine this was have been hurtful beyond words, particularly given all you have gone through recently.   

We hope you receive some useful suggestions and support from our lovely community and if it helps, thought we would include a resource on dealing with workplace bullying.  We can hear that you are taking the appropriate steps so far; it might go against ‘blue shirt code’ however you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, as does the memory of your ex so we truly commend you for this.

Workers Guide to Workplace Bullying
 
As we mentioned it’s great you have reached out, it’s important not to isolate yourself.  If you ever feel like you need to talk or chat, we are here 24/7 on we are here 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via our WebChat .  We have a great team of counsellors who can provide you with support and a non-judgmental chat whenever you need it.
 
Thanks again for posting GB3000, we hope that you find what you are looking for by joining us, it shouldn’t be too long before you hear from one of our community members and look forward to seeing you more often here, please take care of you.
 
Kind Regards
 
Sophie M

Croix
Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear GB3000~

I'd like to join Sophie_M in welcoming you to the Forum, a very different place to your work environment as here we try to support.

 

I'm sorry you have all this on your hands. As an ex-policeman I'm well aware that police and correctional services both seem to attract more than their fair share of bullies. Sadly even those that start out with good intentions can become affected by dealing with  constant toxic environments and become over-keen to be 'one of the  tribe' at the expense of thier more humane side.

 

To betrayed like this by your supervisor, on top of the grief and other feelings you may have over the suicide of your ex-girlfriend makes life very hard and it is no surprise you are on edge, can't eat or sleep.

 

That report too is simply another source of worry at this stage.

 

While I certainly hope your reporting of your supervisor's behavior results in some satisfactory action I'm wondering what you want to do.

 

Certainly it might be wise to wait until the inquiry finishes, but after that do you want to remain in the job, either at your current location or at another institution?

 

While I'm asking questions do you mind if I ask if you have any support in your life, a friend or member of your family or even someone at work who will be there for you?

 

I made the mistake of assuming my career was a permanent thing, but ended up invalided out wihtout choice. Not a good time. I think things would have been a whole lot better if I did have a choice.

 

So I'd really like it if you came back and we talked some more

 

Croix

 

smallwolf
Community Champion
Community Champion

welcome to the forums and hello.

 

I do not have any similar story. I cannot really add much more to what Sophie_M and Croix said. 

 

To say that I was shocked when I read your story would be an understatement. At a time when you might still be grieving the loss of the GF and to then hear those things is wrong. And for what it is worth, you might not have the followed the "code" but I feel you did the right thing.

 

Listening...

Petal22
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi GB3000,

 

I am so sorry for how you have been treated.

 

Bullying is never ok and for your supervisor to say these things to you are just horrible.

 

Please know that this is a total reflection of your supervisor and not you.

 

I think it’s great that you took a stand and wrote him up.

 

Im sorry you are feeling on edge with anxiety and worry.

 

Can I ask if you have seeked professional help for the anxiety you are feeling?

 

 

Learn to Fly
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi GB3000,

Thanks so much for opening up here on the forums. Sometimes, simply getting everything out of our system is a great step forward. 
I was completely shocked with your supervisor's behaviour and the way he spoke to you. It's hard to believe people would behave like this, and with no apparent reason. 
You did nothing wrong, and I think you handled this situation amazingly. 
The only other thing that comes to my mind is: would you consider talking to a manager, or anyone with a higher rank than your supervisor? Just so you could feel some support. 
Not sure if this is something you would even consider but thought I might ask. 

Take care there. 

GB3000
Community Member

Hi Sophie_M, 

 

Thank you so much for your kind words and your advice. It’s good to be apart of something positive and reinforcing. I have a wonderful support network through family and friends, but I find it’s also good to get someone else’s perspective. 

kind regards 

GB3000
Community Member

Hi Croix, 

 

Thank you so much for your kind words of support. In the Correctional environment there is that element of dark humour, I would imagine the same for the force. There was always banter and sledging between ourselves, even on the odd occasion with the prisoners as well. But to have your personal life attacked like that has really left a sour taste in my mouth. I heard stories of other officers being bullied and treated poorly, I honestly never would have thought I’d ever be victim to workplace bullying. I’m 6 ft tall 120 kegs so I’m not tiny, this just goes to show that it can happen to absolutely anyone.

 

I have taken the appropriate steps in reporting this incident and there is a formal investigation currently in progress. The stress from the investigation itself has caused my stress and anxiety as well

i have been feeling of sorts with my employment at the prison for the last 2 years. I feel with this recent incident it’s been the hair that broke the camels back. I always thought it’d be a permanent career for me as well but turns out I no longer feel like going back. To have the death of my ex mocked by people that I’ve shed blood, sweat and tears with has hit me pretty hard. 

I have a pretty good support network made up of friends and family, but I find it’s good to talk to people to get an outside perspective. Especially people that were or are still in a similar line of work. 

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story and look forward to talking more. 

kind regards

Croix
Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear GB3000~

By the sounds of it you have a pretty good handle on the situation and I'm glad you are not mentally locked in to this particular career at this particular institution.

 

Yes, waiting on the outcome of any internal investigation, no matter if you instigated it or not is a stressful time, and perhaps I'm a tad cynical however they do not always turn out as one might like. That's life.

 

From my point of view if you have control, and make a positive decision to stay or go that is the most important thing, rahter than feeling one has no choice and is just swept along by events.

 

That can strip away pride and leave one feeling as if one has failed.

 

For many it is not as easy as one might think to step outside an existing role such as yours or mine and become a member of the public, however I've managed it and have a satisfying world. Just goes to prove there is 'life after police' and I presume after C.S.

 

Please let us know how you get on, I too am interested in what happens with you

 

Croix