There is a huge emotional cost for those bullied at work but it gets much worse if they complain or 'blow the whistle'. A lot of it is the frustration of telling their tale to all and sundry yet seeing no action.
Today on local radio a person bullied at CSIRO hit the nail on the head when he expressed how people begin to shun those who are bullied because they 'protesteth too much'.
They run from the whistle blower victim like you'd run from a rotting corpse. Victims do show their heartbreak from time to time and this disturbs those who are safe within the arms of their organisation.
Emotion makes people uncomfortable. No one wants to get involved in case it affects their standing at work as one of the 'lucky ones.' As the victim becomes more and more upset it is then easy to conclude they are emotional, then they may be 'unstable', finally that they are just plain mad. Overall, they are seen as trouble causes. They are as embarrassing as the homeless on the street who bare footed and stinking asks you for a buck for the bus - you don't know where they have come from but you think it was probably their own fault.
People tend to put up with a lot of abuse before they blow the whistle, and others are so afraid to rock the boat they remain frozen and will not complain. These people sometimes suicide or have break downs so I do not need to stress how serious this issue is. Sadly even after a suicide people will conclude that the person must have been unbalanced in some way ... once again blaming the victim.
A certain high level person at CIT bullied someone I know (also high level) in every meeting. This person is known for her dismissive and rude tone. She attacked everything this person said and told her her work was not up to scratch in the most disparaging terms in front of everyone. Yes, everyone was embarrassed and said nothing. Then in a meeting when this victim finally stood up for herself in a limited way, the bully saw her chance and made a complaint getting two of her staff to back her up about how badly behaved this person had been in the meeting. Ludicrous given this bullies usual method of operation in meetings and in general.
Even though other people at the meeting took the opposite view of the 'gang of three', they make no moves to protect the victim and let the gang run free. This persons reputation was demolished . She suffered depression and anxiety and shared with me her despair and effort to rebuild her reputation. Finally, seeing her major bully promoted AND (as above) in a position to bully her even further AND on the management team tasked with instituting the changes at CIT she resigned.