Traumatized by lateral abuse

Nurses Stress 101


I was traumatized last year by the abusive behavior of nurses and nursing assistants. The memories of this trauma keep haunting me to this day, and it is affecting my confidence in my new job.

I'm a hardworking nurse. I go to work expecting to work, not to sit down, gossip, and color pictures like they did. I concluded it was out jealousy that they started to make my life a living hell: I was constantly assigned the heaviest patients (which I enjoy to a certain extent), and I was refused any help and teamwork when I was drowning in work. Instead of listening to me, my manager reprimanded me for staying over to finish charting so frequently. I still tried to be open and honest with her about what I'm experiencing on the unit.

I had some hateful comments targeted directly at me, and I knew I wasn't accepted by some nurses and nursing assistants on the unit. When they started making up lies about my behavior and actions, I got very anxious and depressed. They told my manager I had not responded to a two different cases of patient deterioration (the first time video footage confirmed I was telling the truth), they claimed I had been abusive towards a patient (patient was delirious, and I was being extra attentive to him), and that I had delegated outside of someone's scope of practice (I had only prioritized my own tasks, and requested the nursing assistant help the patient clean up in the meanwhile). I get very frustrated when I know I've done the right thing and given my best, but no one believes me, or sees my integrity.

Because of the frequency of these lies my manager and director started to believe that there was something wrong with me, and recommended that I transfer to a different department because they thought I could not handle the workload. They did not want to address the real issues. They did not trust me, and I felt powerless.

It is kind of difficult to describe the severity of all of this. However, I ended up attempting suicide multiple times before I realized all I need to do is resign. I have a history of PTSD, and up until then I was blaming myself for what had happened. I was also contracted to the hospital, and I was worried about the consequences of breaching that contract. When no one was standing on my side, I decided to quit and go back home because I felt that after attempting suicide I had nothing more to lose. My suicidal ideation and anxiety subsided soon after I resigned from that hell hole.

I'm still bitter that no one believed me, or that in the end no one from the company apologized to me. No one cared when I was in the hospital, or when I resigned. It's an odd feeling to have; it's like I went through all of this abuse and trauma, but really I didn't exist for them anymore. They must've felt accomplished to get rid of me, as sad as it sounds.


6,760 Posts

I am sorry to hear of what you have been through.

Are you currently continuing therapy? Your post is about serious things that you are still processing so it would make sense to have the help of a professional.

Not official advice but as a bit of a side discussion: You need to become internally empowered to act in your own best interest. You can use this very unfortunate experience toward that goal. When you know the truth of a situation and see that people are not going to respond with integrity (which sounds like a pattern that repeated itself here), it is important, then, to stop enabling it.

Another thing (I may not be popular with this, but I think I am right ??‍♀️) - - focusing on the idea of having experienced lateral abuse is not helping. See the bigger picture: These people were being paid to do significantly less than you. They were not there to take good care of people. Yet someone with some kind of power left things that way; kept paying them, kept doing nothing to change their behavior. In general, it is very difficult (for the person in your position) to come out on top of that scenario.  If no one cares about what is really going on, then no one cares. This was not just lateral abuse, but a generally poor environment. Those directing things and those deciding the budget and running the business are as culpable as anyone.

Know this: You cannot make people do what is right. They are going to do what they're going to do. You cannot make them care about the things you care about. They are going to care about what they want to. You cannot make people have your values or see things your way. Your main power is in your own actions and responses. What will you do about a situation? How will you care for yourself, how will you do what is in your best interest? What do you do when you find out that your boss is looking sideways at you while entertaining foolishness? Well, you have choices. You either tolerate it or you don't.

You've learned a sad lesson involving the number of times people are not going to care about your sense of integrity. They don't care about theirs, either. And you aren't going to make them, trust me. MOVE ON.

YOU maintain your  private sense of integrity by giving yourself the same respect that you try to give others. ?

When you understand and believe that, and when you combine it with being positively proactive, you will be on the upward/forward fast track!


On 5/2/2021 at 9:56 AM, SpidersWeb said:

However, I ended up attempting suicide multiple times before I realized all I need to do is resign.

It makes me sad to read this, and yet hopeful. Remember that feeling of realizing that you can do positive things in your own best interest. You are capable of it and have already proven it!  Things improved as soon as you made a positive and empowered move.

Please find a professional who can help you move ahead on the path of positive, empowering actions. You deserve it.

I'm pulling for you. ??


TriciaJ, RN

4,328 Posts

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

Being in an abusive relationship - including your relationship with your employer- has a way of making you feel emotionally slimed.  When you finally get out and save yourself, it can still take time to get rid of all the slime layers.

You need to start replacing those crappy memories with better ones.  One day at a time.

Meanwhile, who do you think is looking after those heavy patients now?  Without you to target I can guarantee you the clique has to turn on each other.  It's unfortunate we don't get to be a fly on the wall to see what's going on in our absence.  So you just have to trust that you are probably being vindicated as we speak.

Stop punishing yourself for their bad behaviour.  You have a lot to offer the world and it has a lot to offer you.  Landing on your feet is the best revenge.


I probably cannot offer any help, but, I can say that I understand where you are coming from. I have had two nursing jobs in two different hospitals since I graduated in 2018 and have severe PTSD from both. Management was awful, I experienced severe bullying by two senior nurses and reported it and both times I WAS FIRED! It was total crap. I, too, have contemplated ending it all. I definitely don't ever want to be a nurse again. I hate nursing now. I hate what it is all about. I love the patients but hate the people that are involved and make nursing a living nightmare. I regret with all of my being ever becoming a nurse. I cannot believe that a few years ago and after 15 years of patient care, that I thought I would be proud to be a nurse. But, I am not. I regret spending the money on the degree that I do not ever want to use again but will be forced to at least temporarily as I currently do not have an income as of two weeks ago. 


I am here if you want to chat. 



Specializes in Critical Care.

I just recently submitted a post that was rather vague about being a depressed RN. I feel for you. Hope youre doing better.

I experienced A LOT of the same things you described... A part of me grateful for some of the responses I've gotten here. Others were less than helpful. 

I experienced bullying - I didn't even realize it until it got to be too late. All from upper management or charge nurses seeking to climb the ladder. I was lucky enough to have a few very loyal & amazing co workers (Clin techs, fellow RNs, RTs, CathLab techs, IR staff) ... people saw what was going on and empathized what I was going through even when I refused to share any thoughts, feelings, emotions, and fears. I so feared saying anything... And they had my back. They reminded me of my strengths, how I had helped them, what I had taught them... Such wonderful humans. They taught me so much 

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