December 26, 2017

Abusers and Enablers in Faculty Culture

...It’s easier to blame the victim than change the system. Abusers weaponize their own idiosyncrasies and parade them as high standards, shaming anyone who falls short. That often sets in motion a cycle of low self-esteem, late work, and less polished writing to prove that the accuser, not the abuser, must be problem.

The feeling of being unheard, untrusted, and not believed keeps the cycle spiraling further out of control. Too many of my clients feel guilt creep into their professional lives. Some can be quick to blame themselves. Others hesitate to turn down requests to give a talk or contribute to a journal, because they think they "owe" colleagues "favors" and will be criticized for not delivering. This is often the legacy of chronic, institutionalized abuse — of people breaking others rather than building up their confidence and helping them be successful colleagues.

If you find yourself saying, "Look, what he did was wrong, but really, her work isn’t that good, anyway," or, "If she were strong, like me, she would have stood up for herself," or, "If she didn’t have something to hide, she would have spoken out" — you are part of the problem...


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