The Empowered Employee

Dying to Stay – Is Your Fight for Justice Costing Too Much?

What are you willing to die for?

This may seem like too serious of a question for those simply defending themselves against unfair treatment at work, but it’s one that must be considered.

Employees who find themselves suffering in the workplace often fail to heed the advice of experts to leave their toxic environments. And understandably so. There are countless reasons we become attached to our jobs. And even more reasons we fight to stay…including the sheer injustice of what we’re facing.

This blog is for those of you whose fight became more than about a paycheck. Those who became so outraged by the wrong being done that you felt a moral obligation to stand up against it.

My hope is that employees will understand why experts are telling us to leave our toxic workplaces (especially when you’re fighting your heroic battle alone). For what they know, that you may not, is that the cost of your bravery may come at far too high a price…no matter how noble the cause.

Are you dying to stay? Let’s take a deeper look to find out.

The Reasons We Stay

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute’s (WBI) 2013 survey , employees gave three main reasons they don’t just pack up their desks and leave:

Economic Factors – 40%
Pride / Injustice – 36%
Waiting – 24%

When you take into consideration that most targets feel a strong sense of ownership in their jobs, care deeply about their workplaces, and have high moral standards, it’s no surprise that the fight for justice comes right behind the need to protect one’s livelihood.

But research shows that most workplace warriors have no idea that what they’re up against isn’t only an injustice, but actual abuse. And when the abuse is from someone in power, the less control they’ll have and the less likely they’ll win. Without this understanding, it can be difficult to recognize the signs that it may be time to go.

So, how do we know?

A. We listen to our bodies.

When Stress Becomes Distress

Many of us understand that any amount of stress is unhealthy. But when stress becomes distress, we can find ourselves suddenly facing life threatening illnesses. In addition, we can find ourselves traumatized by the pure shock of what’s taking place and the emotional overwhelm that follows.

And here’s why…

Whether physical or psychological, when we face a threat, our bodies respond in a very primal way. The body’s defense system releases powerful hormones, shutting down parts of our brain while activating others to ensure the best chance of survival. Our heart begins to beat faster, we become laser focused on the danger and our body becomes extremely tense.

In most cases, our bodies return to normal when the immediate danger passes. But when you face workplace aggression, the threats don’t stop, leaving our bodies in this distressed state much too long. This is why targets are at such high risk of damage to their physical, emotional and cognitive functions.

So, is the fight worth it?

Weighing the Risks

According to the WBI, workplace bullying targets have a 71% chance of facing a negative outcome with their situation. This comes with a 40% chance of developing the below life debilitating health issues:

79% Anxiety
77%  Sleep disorders
60%  Cardiovascular issues
52%  Panic Attacks
49%  Clinical Depression
30%  PTSD
29%  Suicidal ideation

Can’t imagine ever suffering from any of these?

I couldn’t have imagined it myself. After all, I was one of the fortunate ones. I came into my workplace bullying battle with no prior health issues, had lots of outside support, and didn’t rely on my income to survive.

But I found that none of these factors could stop the repercussions of pushing my body beyond its limits. I discovered, much too late, that you don’t have to believe one word those bullies say about you to lose your confidence. You can be fearless in the face of adversity and still end up terrorized. And you can have no doubt that you fought with integrity, and yet, find yourself questioning everything.

How Fighting Workplace Bullying Took Its Toll on Me

The price I’d pay for fighting injustice alone would be far more than the loss of my career…and much more than the memory loss that finally scared me enough to walk away. It would take 12 weeks before I’d feel my battle’s full effect.

I’d find myself waking up one morning with an onset of symptoms so overwhelming that I was unable to get my children ready for school. In the following 10 days, I would experience uncontrollable trembling, sweating, shivering and violent vomiting. My heart would beat out of my chest and for the first time in 43 years, my thoughts went to unimaginably dark places.

Anxiety ruled my nights and fear tormented my days, making it impossible to complete even the simplest of tasks. 15 months later, I still, at times, feel the effects of my workplace abuse fight.

So, Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Choosing to stay or go is a personal decision that only you can make. I know there are many factors that you need to consider. And I know, first hand, how unfair all of this is.

My hope for today is that you will stop fighting, for just a moment, and assess your current health. That, if you’re already struggling to sleep, are having trouble eating, and are obsessing about what’s happening to you, that you’ll review some of the options and resources available to you.

And, if it still seems impossible to let it all go due to the sheer injustice of it all, don’t fret. There are plenty of ways you can fight back against workplace abuse once you’re in a safe place and you’re healthy again.

Right now, there is an option that can prove to be just as strong, just as brave and equally as heroic as you have already shown to be. One where you are no longer dying to stay, but rather…


Wherever you are in your career, I wish you success, peace, and most of all, good health.

Janice XO

If you are new to my writing, you can visit me at to read more of my blogs and find the resources I found helpful. You can also join me on FB at The Empowered Employee.


  • reply

    Sandy Clovechok

    I resigned my position as a Registered after a decade of “workplace bullying trauma” September 2013. In 2015 I wrote a personal story ” The Monster In Sandy’s Workplace Environment” describing in detail my workplace bullying experience in my ten years of employment and continued “psychological injuries” in the next two years following retirement as I was reported to my licensing registrar for allegations for” unprofessional conduct”. For three years I lobbied with politicians at all government levels advocating for legislation to address ” psychological injuries ” in workplace environments. After three years of research I also had an article published an article in the Alberta RN February 2018 ” Examining the effects of WORKPLACE BULLYING AND HARASSMENT AND PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES in Alberta’s Healthcare system: A CALL FOR LEGISLATION. ” Alberta’s Labour Minister Christina Grey received a letter from me October 2016 requesting legislation to address “psychological injuries” in workplace environments and shared my personal story. Two weeks later I received a response letter from her that she acknowledged my story and promised to address my issue. She also received the first draft of my article July 2017. It was Christina Grey who initiated Alberta Government Bill 30: An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans November 27,2017 reaching Royal Assent within two weeks December 15,2017. Givernment Bill 30 was enacted throughout 2018. June 1,2018 a new OH&S Act was enacted to reflect the new legislation. Within the new act ” psychological injuries” in workplace enviroments!! I ended my nursing career with a legacy. I made a significance in the lives of others!! I channeled my energy from a negative to a positive!! Your story matters!!

    January 31, 2019
    • reply

      Graeme Raine

      What a great effort to acheive this. While I can not go into detail I saw a nurse treated unfairly. I found the investigation into her was not conducted with natural justice and the documented evidence did not in any way match the findings as written. At first this was passed off as a technicality. It was definately not a technicality. Not when recorded patient data does not match the finding.

      The findings in one case had been written up before this nurse was interviewed. This as a fatal flaw in managements case.

      Results. All adverse material relating to the investigations was removed from her personal file and an apology from the top saying no nurse should have been treated this way.

      A nurse is a nurse not a qualified investigator. So do I hold one of these Senior Nurses in contempt? No I do not. She was simply out of her depth without adequate Training. She is actually a very nice person and a good nurse.

      January 31, 2019
  • reply

    Graeme Raine

    Janice, well written again and your experiences are so real.

    I did leave a job that was stressing me and for me it was the best option. Nights and weekends were the worst time. At work I was actually coping but taking anxiety tablets to get there.

    Now I look at it this way.

    If a job was advertised as this below would we consider applying for it?

    “An exciting opportunity to spend X amount of hours per day being stressed!”

    “We offer an Employee Assistance Program and we guarantee you will benefit from your sessions.”

    “The harder that you work the harder we can make it!”

    Yet here I was fighting to keep a job I would never think of applying for. One that was having a huge impact on my mental wellbeing.

    I feel we may also fight for security because change also has challenges. Change can also have benefits and the potential for increased quality of living is one of them.

    A lot to consider maybe.

    January 31, 2019
  • reply

    I’m incredibly proud of you for taking this much needed stance against workplace bullying. The personal costs are far greater than most individuals who have been bullied, harassed, humiliated, and severely traumatized can accurately describe. There’s comfort in knowing that you’re not alone; and in the power that comes from speaking up about your experiences, but that’s an entirely different painful process. Telling small parts of my stories (I’ve had numerous bullying experiences) has cost me EVERYTHING. Reputation, income, and for a time, my sense of self-worth. I wouldn’t wish any of that on my worst enemy…grateful for your efforts and standing resolutely beside you.
    Big hugs and blessings,

    September 21, 2019

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