The Psychology behind Victimisation

We have all heard about victims and victimisation. What really needs to be understood is the psychology behind people’s need to victimize others. Dictionary defines Victimisation as causing someone to be treated unfairly or made to feel as if he is in a bad position. In other words, an example of victimisation is when a person treats someone poorly and makes him feel adversity. Researchers are in consensus with the widely accepted belief that bullies often victimises the weak to project themselves as better and to feel better about themselves. The motivations behind victimization has been pinned by experts to a desire for dominance and the need to improve social status.  

The most common bullying experiences that most of us are familiar with is students being bullied at schools. Bullying at workplace, though not currently getting the necessary attention, cannot be ignored as there is a rise in the number of staff being victimized.  An article published in South African Journal of Education, Volume 35, Number 3, August 2015 titled, “The nature of workplace bullying experienced by teachers and the biopsychosocial health effects” by J. De Vos and G.J.C. Kirsten brings to light an interesting experiment conducted in South African schools with twenty seven teachers who were bullied in their workplace, which revealed that “bullying is mostly perpetrated by principals, who often use colleagues as accomplices, and that the bullying mostly tends to be psychological in nature. Participants reported experiencing various physical, psychological and social health problems after being victimised.”

In the article “Workplace bullying: Developing a human rights definition from the perspective and experiences of targets” published in America in The Journal of Labor & Society, 13(3):387-403.Carbo and Hughes have defined workplace bullying as, “the unwanted, unwelcome, abuse of any source of power that has the effect of or intent to intimidate, control or otherwise strip a target of their right to esteem, growth, dignity, voice or other human rights in the workplace” and have acknowledged it as a legal matter. Therefore, if victimisation occurs, it is usually due to organisational dysfunction. The victimised would either adopt an avoidance strategy which is to absent from work and if they choose to come despite being low in spirits it would undoubtedly interfere with the teaching and learning process as they would not be in the right state of mind to impart the necessary skills to learners. This then suggests the need for strategic intervention activities which could bring about positive change in the culture of the organisation.

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