“Bad boss” or vulnerable adult child?

Did you know that 1 out of 6 children (on average) here in the UK experience some form of child abuse? That climbs to a staggering 1 in 4 girl children. Yes, right here in our community.

Source: NAPAC Training for Individual Professionals, 27 September 2019, Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse (2017)

And that the effects of this abuse can remain with them undiagnosed and/or unremembered for the rest of their life.

Childhood abuse takes many forms – neglect, physical, sexual, emotional, narcissistic. Also organisational and ritualistic.

The effects of physical, sexual or emotional abuse and neglect in childhood play a key role in the development of mental, emotional, social and physical health difficulties
later in life
[Source: As above]

73% of the abuse has been conducted over a number of years and most remain unreported to the police. By far the most common perpetrators of child abuse are family members rather than someone outside of the immediate family. Most commonly Father then Mother, then Brother and Stepfather. [Source: As above]

There is a rather frightening but accurate sketch I like to use when illustrating the effects of being abused by a family member (source)

Drawing by Jeremy Griffith illustrating how children become ‘power addicts’ or ‘crippled’

“The child is turned into either a […] power addict, or a psychologically crippled, broken person as an adult.”

Often in my volunteer counselling with individuals who are suicidal, I ask them the question “Do you really want to take your own life, or are you suffering so badly that it seems the only way to find some relief?”

Probably 8 out of 10 times they report being so distressed that they can only think of seeking relief from their own experience of life.

Consider the bad boss in the work place

I personally believe it is meaningless to see the boss as a “good person” if they abuse the people around them when under pressure. They may have the same well intentioned, internal kernel that all other humans have (apart from sociopaths with no empathy, although they don’t have the capacity to realise this…) but in those moments of pressure the good boss becomes the perpetrator nonetheless.

Helping the boss with their poor behaviour at those times of pressure is what is needed, not just tolerance and sympathy from those around him/her.

I wonder how many of these “bad bosses” have had some form of Adverse Childhood Event (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study) as a youngster.


Frank Ray

Ask any project manager about the key to their success, and they will say that delivering a project is often more like a "dark art" or by chance, than a predictable science.

They may also say that a project going 'off the rails' was one of the most stressful things they have professionally experienced. And unfortunately, it’s all too common.

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