Amongst the clamouring to reveal the Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a bully, one in particular has disturbed me. The Chief Executive of the National Bullying Helpline has told BBC News that several staff from the PMs office have contacted her charity for advice. I want to leave aside the political ramifications of this to comment on the actions of Ms Pratt.
One of the ways bullying works is to make the victim feel isolated, alone, and with nowhere to go, no-one to turn to. Even people who would normally support the victim may turn away, frightened that the bully might turn on them next.
It is so very very important that a victim of bullying has access to a safe haven, someone or somewhere safe where they can seek advice, get help or even start the process of taking action. Somewhere where they know they won't be discovered by the bully. The people who work in this area must never divulge the identities of the victims using the service, not even by naming the place of work.
The actions of Ms Pratt, by saying several of the PMs staff have contacted the charity have left me astounded. Any bully in that office now knows that there are staff there so frightened that they had to contact a charity to seek help. That bully probably now knows exactly who has called out for help. And, as is usual in this situation, the intimidation will now probably be stepped up a notch or 3.
This indirect identification of victims is almost as shocking as the allegations of bullying itself. The indiscretion of Ms Pratt will probably lead to many more victims doing nothing, saying nothing about the bullying they endure. It's almost as if this helpline is in collusion with the bullies!
I always thought the point of helplines such as this was to empower victims to make choices that were right for them. Ms Pratt has dis-empowered the staff in the PMs office, and more than likely dis-empowered thousands of bullying victims across the UK. Shame on her.
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