Former bully calls for workplace bullying to end
MELISSA Cohen grew up the victim of a bully - but she also knows firsthand what it's like to walk in the shoes of that bully.
"I've also been the bully," she said.
It is through her experiences as both victim and bully that Mrs Cohen, 46, is now taking a stand to stamp out workplace bullying and provide support for both victims and perpetrators.
"If someone didn't do something I liked, I'd get in their faces and I'd tell them - I'd read them the riot act," she said.
Mrs Cohen said she only took a "long, hard look" at herself after wondering why people in her workplace appeared to be intimidated by her.
"I wondered why people would shy away from me," she said.
"People would say that they were scared of me.
"Then I thought, 'where do I get off putting myself on this throne?'."
Mrs Cohen's plans for an anti-bullying campaign have just won the support of Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman, and she now hopes to create a community awareness poster.
"I'm wanting to do a lot of research on this and come up with a simplistic poster to put up in every business so people can look at it," she said.
"I also want to put on there something for the bullies.
"There is already a lot of stuff out there for victims."
Mrs Cohen, a part-time cleaner and full-time housewife, said bullying had a domino effect.
"It starts at home - parents teach the children and the children take it to school," she said.
The effects of bullying, Mrs Cohen says, are many and varied.
"Some of the health effects from the victim's point of view include loss of appetite, poor concentration, hyper-vigilance, exaggerated or startled responses and panic attacks," she said.
She believes admitting you are a bully is not a sign of being a bad person.
"You just don't have the coping skills," she said.
"You won't be seen as a weak boss if you take a good look at yourself.
"When you take a good look at yourself, then you can put your head on the pillow."
Mrs Cohen said she was hoping to receive input from the public, and encouraged people to contact her through Facebook or leave thoughts and ideas with the staff at the Bundaberg Regional Council offices on Bourbong St.