Part of the Awakened Foundation is the Satori Project, which encourages people who have experienced abuse to share their stories though creativity. An aspect of this project is featuring stories from people in blogs or articles. Please note that because of the nature of the project, the Awakened Foundation aims to keep artwork authentic and although does some editing, supports the authenticity of each story. Because of this, please be warned that the following blog covers sensitive topics and some unedited illicit language.
This month we are featuring Jessica Hickman who is the owner of “Bullyology”. Jessica is a specialist coach who helps to empower people who suffer bullying, harassment and gender inequality.
Jessica excelled in the workplace gaining multiple awards and recognition for her work on gender equality and mental health support. Some of the awards were; Minister for Territory Families Excellence in Youth Leadership and Exceptional Woman in Resources. Yet, while she received praise, Jessica was also suffering with extensive workplace bullying and harassment from an authority figure. She shared that she believes she was being targeted for two main reasons: her female gender (in a male dominated environment), and secondly, because she championed equality (being an advocate of freedom of speech).
When asked to share parts of her story, Jessica was honest and open about what she’d experienced. “In my last job, I was in a very dark place. I will not allow myself to be pushed back into that place again. I will never have the chance to have the time back and no one deserves to have this treatment for just doing their job.”
1. What do you do?
I am a specialist coach to help and empower people who suffer bullying, harassment and gender inequality.
2. What are you passionate about?
Being a change maker and helping people succeed. Raising awareness on bullying, harassment, gender equality and breaking the stigma on mental health.
3. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am originally from Wales, United Kingdom where I was a youth worker for 7 years then decided to travel to Australia for a new life.
On my arrival in Australia in 2013, I worked in Human Resources. It's here I learned core lessons. I identified the gap in mental health support and went on a mission to be a change maker, creating my own job position at Culture Coordinator. In the workplace, I gained multiple awards and recognition for my work on gender equality and mental health support.
Behind the scenes I was suffering with extensive work place bullying and harassment from a person in a power position.
4. As abuse and violence is the focus of our Foundation, we feature those who have the courage to share their stories. Could you share your story with us? (We respect what you feel comfortable with).
5. How have your experiences impacted your life?
During the time, this left me extremely run down, confused, no sleep, having nightmares if I did fall asleep, anxious, in tears and with migraines. I felt isolated and afraid of his temper. I felt like my professionalism was constantly undermined and I was criticised for doing my role.
I was sick all night before work and so nervous of what would happen the next day. I felt humiliated and everyone around me could see what was happening. Those people were also too scared to help as they were afraid to lose their jobs. I felt physically ill knowing that my manager felt this way about me because of my gender. I would circle the conversation over and over in my mind.
6. What has been the response from people close to you (family) and the wider community?
My family were worried but very supportive. Community is very supportive.
7. How did you find your voice?
After the recent #metoo campaign and media coverage on sexual harassment I decided to create my business and speak up to help others.
8. Do you feel like you have overcome the trauma?
Slowly I have worked to overcome the trauma. During the process I felt trapped; unable to change the bully or hostile environment. The only hope was to change myself. I needed to become the master of my own mind. To protect my energy and reflect any negativity without it effecting my self-worth, mindset and confidence.
I developed my five steps for success moving from survivor to thriver:
1. The observer - I watched his every move
2. The protector - I learnt mindful strategies to protect my space and energy
3. The documenter - I journaled his words
4. The researcher - I collected resources, advice and prepared for his next attack
5. The change maker - I have utilised my experience to help others
Changing my mindset to move from survivor to thriver has been the best choice of my life.
9. What have been some of the greatest inspirations for sharing your story?
Support from family, friends and strangers.
10. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve overcome during this journey?
Fear of my bully and nervous of judgement from others.
11. Do you feel the awareness is shifting around violence and abuse?
Yes especially now with the media coverage on the Hollywood sexual harassment scandal.
12. In your opinion - Why do you feel society has difficulty with the topics of abuse and violence?
It’s a topic that is swept under the carpet especially in organisations, families and schools. It’s a tough topic and people feel afraid to speak up as they are scared of rejection. Women can be afraid as they are portrayed as weak. In my case this was true.
13. What keeps you focused and grounded when things get challenging?
Remembering my purpose and mission. Turning my fear in fuel to help others. Knowing I am not alone.
14. What support system do you have?
Family, friends, and using support groups. The best thing I did was get psychological support and advice. From there my life started to improve gaining my confidence back.
15. Are there any up and coming projects that you’re working on?
www.bullyology.com – Raising awareness and breaking the silence on bullying and harassment.
16. Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to share for those going through similar experiences?
You are not alone. The moment I decided to speak up, I realised this wasn’t only limited to me. So many people I know have experienced similar thingss. It's going to take more than just one strong female to break the silence but in hope to empower others it's worth every breath of air.
Interviewed by Laura Naomi
© awakenedfoundation 2018