“At times it is what we do not say, or not saying a thing, that says a lot about us.”

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

I actually really struggled to find a quote for this post, and it made me worry that it was because it’s a really negative topic – complaining – and that made me worry that perhaps it’s something that really shouldn’t be the centre of an entire blog post… If you know me as a Blogger, then you’ll know that I’m all about being honest and keeping things real; and so, inspired by a previous post (which you can read here) this feels like a subject I should cover because – let’s be honest – it’s no great rarity for professionals (not exclusively psychiatric staff) to be in the wrong in some way; especially when it comes to a mental health related situation…

The Cause for The Complaint

With this post being about making a complaint, I won’t spend too much time attempting to talk about all the possible scenarios that might give a person motivation and reason to make the complaint. I will, however, talk about the three incidents I’ve been in recently that have caused my previous three complaints (I blogged about two of them here)…

1.       When I was last sectioned in February 2023, I was admitted to a local psychiatric hospital, and it was honestly one of the worst admissions I’ve ever experienced – and that’s kind of saying a lot because I’ve been sectioned a huge number of times! And when I say ‘worst;’ that wasn’t because it was harsh on my mental health and that I was really poorly for the duration of it; it was that the general care on the ward was so incredibly poor. I mean, it varied from not being given all my medication to having the infection in my sutures completely ignored and dismissed. The number of times my Mum had to call them left me feeling so patronised that I wasn’t being regarded as an actual adult with thoughts and feelings just because I was sectioned! So, once I was discharged ten days later, I called CQC to raise a concern and made a formal complaint to the Trust responsible for the hospital.

2.       After being told by my GP to attend A&E for IV antibiotics, my suicidal thoughts and feelings were so prominent that I was debating not going in the hope that I would die from the infection. So, I ended up calling the Crisis Team, but the call handler – who I’ll call ‘J’ – failed to ask me why I was calling and when I still hadn’t had a call back three hours later, I called again and when I pointed out that if she had asked me why I was calling, maybe I would have been called back sooner, her response was; “well you never tell me why you’re calling. You always just say you want to speak to a Nurse.” Fortunately, having felt a sense of foul treatment, I had recorded that second call and so, feeling like J had held my past against me, I was motivated to make a formal complaint to the Trust responsible for my local Crisis Team.

3.       After having received a letter and call from the member of staff who had been appointed to investigate that first complaint with the Crisis Team, he put a lot of focus on the fact that all Call Handlers were being strictly instructed to always ask callers why they’re ringing. So, when another Call Handler – who I’ll call ‘N’ – failed to ask me and once again, I ended up ringing back after hours of not receiving a call back and pointed this failing out to her. Her response was “ok.” And I kind of tutted and felt in total shock before saying “do you even care?!” To which she asked “well… do you?” Her attitude and the fact it implied that the Call Handlers had clearly taken in absolutely nothing when being instructed to always ask a caller the reason for their call; resulted in me putting in another complaint to the same Trust.

Just to kind of… be clear; since my first interaction with this Trust in 2009, those three experiences I just talked about, were actually the majority of complaints I’ve had to put in against their services in that entire time! I’d say, if anything, the majority of any complaints I’ve had to make over the years, has been with my local Police Force for their stigmatised and discriminatory views on people in a mental health crisis. And so, with that in mind, I obviously still use my mental health NHS Trust, I still have an appreciation for them, and I still work with and respect their amazing Communications team and their fantastic Chief Executive! I think it’s all about recognising that these failures aren’t a majority sort of thing… These staff – particularly the two from the Crisis Team – are in the minority and so, I believe that the Trust is still trustworthy and still has the potential to be helpful for myself and others.

Coping With The Immediate Aftermath

I think that one of the most challenging elements to coping in the aftermath of an instance that is complaint-worthy is the feeling or belief that other staff from the same organisation or team, are going to ‘group together.’ The concern that they will have each other’s back and might be reluctant to speak or meet with you because you’ve had that instance with their colleagues. It can leave you feeling like there’s no professional to really turn to because there can be a very valid worry that even if you were to ring another team or staff member, there’s a risk you’ll be asked why you’re ringing them and not whoever has done bad by you so they’ll end up knowing and that might (though it obviously shouldn’t!) impact their thoughts and feelings on you and influence the way you are treat by them.

Also, telling them what other staff have said or done, can give them the opportunity to support, defend them, or make excuses for them. This can be really infuriating and condescending. It’s hard to feel that you want to tell someone something has happened, and then after you have, they act like they were there and seem to feel entitled to respond as though they were. And this – the idea that another professional might go on to treat you poorly too – can end up being an even worse thought than the idea of trying to cope with everything by yourself. It can even be worse than feeling that you then have to determine someone or somewhere else you can turn to instead for help and support with your mental health!

Here's some more thoughts and advice on coping with complaint-worthy incidents…

Deciding To Make A Complaint

Whilst I will very obviously be including something around pros and cons in terms of deciding whether to make a complaint against the professional who has failed or done wrong by you in some way; I wanted to first make it clear that thinking of the benefits and the negative consequences to making a complaint isn’t all there is to it in the process of making the decision. There’s so much more to it.

I mean, firstly, for me; I’ve thought about the fundamental reason as to why I want to do it – do I want an apology? Do I want for someone more senior to know what their staff have done or said? Or do I want for the professional to face a punishment or some kind of consequence for their actions? And I believe that recognising what you want to get from making a complaint – and establishing your expectations if you were to do it – can be really essential in so far as determining your decision at these huge, important crossroads.

In all honesty, there was an occasion where I wanted a professional to be fired for what they had/hadn’t done! But I recognised that perhaps I only felt that way because it had happened to me, and that no one else – especially a complete stranger or someone who wasn’t really involved in my life – would agree that the person should be punished to such an extreme. There are some instances where the impact of it can be more about a personal side to it in that someone who wasn’t involved in the situation in any way, might struggle to comprehend how anyone in it – even the professional! – is feeling about it. And it’s kind of like what people say when you’re watching a movie and you’re screaming at a character to run away or to call the Police and you’re convinced that if you were in that situation that’s what you’d do; but really, there can be no certainty in that. You can’t really foretell or predict how you’ll respond to a situation unless you’re in it. And this actually becomes so relevant to complaints because it’s worth considering how a person investigating the complaint might view the situation. However, in response to this, perhaps it’s worth really thinking through what you can do to ensure that such a person has a good an understanding as possible into how you feel, what you’re thinking, and how you’ve responded to the incident. Like, would it be possible to write a letter with your point of view? Or discuss it in a phone call?

I’d like to think that little bit about worrying an outsider will feel a particular way and then thinking how you can change that, is a good little example of the importance of thinking around things when it comes to complaints. That, if you come across a hurdle in your path of making a decision both to complain or not to, it’s always good to think about ways over it or around it before finally making your mind up. Don’t let what might seem a huge challenge at first glance, be the deciding-factor in this important decision-making process because doing so, can come back to bite you when you later realise there were alternative routes that might have made you feel more confident and comfortable than backing down.

One of the largest factors in my eventual decision as to whether or not to make a complaint against a professional, has been my passion, determination, and dedication to help others. I don’t want anyone to go through the terrible things that I have and that is especially true in so far as professionals doing wrong by me. I mean, there have honestly been multiple times in the past where my mental health was so fragile and vulnerable that it was easily influenced into becoming unsafe, so I often felt that if a professional made a bad comment or did something wrong, it became a direct impact and cause for me to self-harm. Whilst I now recognise the importance of responsibility around issues like that (something that I’ll talk about next), I think that it’s equally important to recognise that I had limited coping skills – well, I had no safe coping skills!

Anything and everything that went wrong in my life and that made me feel bad in some way – whether that be a death, a knock to my confidence, or a disappointment – self-harm was like my go-to coping method. And so, with that in mind, it seems almost natural or predictable that if a professional did something which I believed to be wrong, I would become unsafe because I would be so upset, angry, and just generally feeling full of overwhelming emotions. And it is this – the possible response a service user or patient might have to a professional’s wrong-doing – that motivates me to do all that I can to prevent that professional doing the same thing to another person. A person who might not be able to be saved from their response in the way that I was in ICU.

When I used to help my local mental health Trust and my local Police force provide mental health training to the new recruits in the Police force, a point I always wanted to make in each session was that if they attend a mental health crisis like standing on a ledge, their actions and their attitude hold the potential to talk the person into coming away and bringing them to safety, or actually provide them with more cause and reason to jump. Whilst I recognise that this can be a hugely intimidating responsibility and that some professionals (not just the Police) can literally be lifesaving, they have willingly joined that career and so, dealing with whatever is thrown their way in their role, is on them to manage. And I say this because something I’ve experienced from professionals when I’ve been in a crisis and it’s taken multi-service involvement, I’ve been accused of being responsible for the entire situation. Especially, where the organisations have had a disagreement, a miscommunication, or when things are just getting tense and stressful amongst them. They should not hold it against the person in crisis – because it is not their fault that the professional is in that position. If mental health services and professionals want service users to take responsibility for their actions, perhaps they should lead by example.  

In connection with that, another motivation I’ve experienced as a reason to put in a complaint against a professional’s wrongdoing is simply based on responsibility. Now, when I first became poorly with my mental health in 2009, I took no responsibility for my coping mechanisms, actions/behaviours, and attitude. If I self-harmed or was rude to someone and they asked me why I had done so, I would always blame someone or something else. I’d say that I had only ended up in hospital because such-and-such said this or what’s-her-name did that! And, ironically, the people – or Team – to get me out of that thought-process and mindset, were actually my local Crisis Team! They made so many decisions based on their desperate urge to encourage that I take responsibility and yes, sometimes I think the actions they took to drill this into me were wrong and ill-timed, ultimately – and obviously – they hit home.

Of all the difficulties you face in taking responsibility for your behaviour – because let’s face it; no matter how right it is to do so, it isn’t easy by any means – I think the worst one I have experienced has been when professionals (especially staff of the Crisis Team) have either refused or neglected to take responsibility themselves. For their own actions, attitude, and decisions. It’s incredibly challenging to feel that these professionals have preached responsibility to so many service users, but then they haven’t had the decency, respect, or compassion to behave in the same exact way they’re lecturing others to!

Now, pros and cons! Each of the three bits I’ve just gone through – around your expectations, protecting others, and taking responsibility – can play a part in you considering the benefits and negatives to making a complaint. I mean, wouldn’t it be ideal if your complaint resulted in the professional admitting to their wrong-doing, taking responsibility for their actions, apologising for the impact it has had on you, and learning from it in a way that could avoid it happening to anyone else? But is that 100% realistic? It should be(!), but sadly, it isn’t.

So, in thinking up your pros and cons – if you decide to do that – it’s best to play devil’s advocate. To think of both the absolute worse-case scenarios that could come from your complaint, as well as the perfect and ideal response. Then, when you have that list; sometimes neither column will be longer than the other, in which case, to choose whether to make the complaint, it can be a good idea to just consider if all the cons happened, how would you cope? If you think you would be just fine despite the professional denying anything even happened or admitting to it but providing an excuse, then what’s the harm in making the complaint? If, however, you think that those possibilities could be really destabilising for your safety and your mental health, perhaps it isn’t worth the risk?

Another exercise you could consider doing with your list of pros and cons, would be to talk it through with someone else. And, I think it doesn’t even necessarily have to be someone who knows the ins and outs of the situation… in some ways, it can be better to speak with a person who doesn’t know so much detail because it’ll allow them to be more removed and more able to give an outsider’s perspective on everything. You know, sometimes if you talk to a parent or best-friend about something that might be an issue they have the potential to disagree with you, your stance/opinion on the topic, or your actions around it? And sometimes don’t you get the impression that they’re on your side just because it’s you and because of your relationship together? It’s like ‘I’ll always be on your Team.’ Admittedly, I don’t like confrontations – especially with best-friends – so I do love that attitude and I think it’s something I’m slightly guilty of doing myself as a best-friend, but I think I’d prefer for a friend or family member to be honest and upfront in voicing any disagreement with my thoughts, feelings, and actions.

In talking to others about such a situation, a hugely understandable reason to actually be reluctant to do so, is the negative – almost instinctual – connotations the word ‘complain’ has. I think it’s fair to say that when you tell someone you’re “putting in a complaint,” the most popular or frequent response from anyone is to give an eye roll or do a very quiet groan – or, if they don’t know you very well, they might just change the topic of conversation entirely! And I think that this attitude and response is mostly to do with the fact that a fair few people have the attitude that if something happens, they’d rather just accept it and move on. They don’t want to make it into something that’s more time-consuming. But coming across people who have this attitude can be really hard for the person who is making the complaint because it can feel really invalidating and leave that person questioning their decision to make the complaint and/or questioning their decision to tell that person about it and either of those can actually affect the entire relationship!

Fortunately, I have a really amazing support system in so far as the people who I’d talk to about a complaint (namely my Mum, my best-friends, and my Recovery Workers from Richmond Fellowship) and so I have always felt validated and confident in my decision to make a complaint – particularly in the three instances I talked about at the beginning of this post (which feels like ages ago to me too, so it isn’t just you reading this!). Validation is something I find really important because I feel like there was a really long time in my life where this just wasn’t done by some of the most important people in my life – and this is especially true from mental health professionals. So, it’s made me cautious as to who I talk to about things like this because I feel like once I’ve made the decision to complain – even if I did so with the help of other people’s opinions – I don’t want their opinions to continue to affect my resolution.

Choosing Your Battles – Deciding Not To Make The Complaint

So, whilst this blog post is about making a complaint, in talking about the pros and cons and me referencing several things to consider in making your decision, I recognise that people might have read this, thoughts about the things I’ve talked about, and actually decided not to go ahead with their complaint. Firstly, I really hope that my words that have influenced someone’s decision end up being the right decision for those people! However, at the same time, I have to recognise – as I do with a lot of my blog posts – that I can only be fully responsible for what I say; I can’t take complete responsibility or blame for a reader’s response to my content. At the end of the day, if a person is absolutely certain they need to complain about an incident, then nothing anyone (especially a complete stranger as I’d class myself to a heck of a lot of readers) says, should make a difference to that. Where your views of something are concrete and unwavering that should really remain the case despite a blog post – if my content changes your mind, then perhaps that’s a sign that you weren’t fully convinced when you started reading this. In recognising this, I feel it’s only balanced to also recognise that

In addition to a recognition of responsibility, I also want to stress respect. I want everyone and anyone who decides not to make a complaint – even if I think that if I were in the situation I would have – have my upmost respect and appreciation. I say this because having been in and out of mental health services for so long, there have very obviously been a lot more instances than the three I’ve specifically talked about where I’ve had to make the decision as to whether to complain about a professional’s wrong-doing. And some of those other instances, I’ve actually – believe it or not – come to the conclusion that complaining wasn’t the ‘right’ or best response for me in that instance. It’s usually been because of the little ditty at the beginning of this section – choose your battles.

Having made complaints and had them go completely wrong; to the point of being detrimental to my safety, I have the experience that can really help me to properly and realistically weigh things up when it comes to making the decision to complain. Those bad experiences have given me an awareness and a recognition that despite your very good intentions, complaints can end up slapping you in the face and making you regret your decision – even when regrets are something I try to avoid labelling anything as being!

The good – but sad – thing to have come from those negative experiences though, has been that I’ve gone to lengths to ensure I have proof of what I’m complaining about. In my two complaints against the Crisis Team call handlers, I had been recording the calls on my iPad – which I had set to film as a video. I’ve obviously ended up being so relieved to have had those recordings because – based on previous experiences – I’m fairly certain that the staff would have just denied what they had said. And this is why it’s sad – you shouldn’t be worried about that. You should be able to think that in putting in the complaint, the professional will admit to their wrong-doing, take responsibility for their words or actions, apologise profusely for the impact it has had on you, and take it as a lesson to not repeat that with others. And, for me, I think that I massively expect that people should do that because it is what I would do – and something I really stand for and was brought up to believe, is treating others how you want to be treated. If you were rude or abusive to a professional and they spoke up and you denied it, how would they feel?

So, having evidence of the instance I’m complaining about, is typically a hugely important aspect for me to determine whether or not to complain; and this is another huge reason why there were instances where I haven’t complained. And I think treating others the way you’d like or expect to be treated yourself, comes into this fact that I respect those who don’t complain, because I would like to think that I would receive that for all the times I’ve chosen not to too.

The Actual Process or Procedure

Obviously different organisations will have different complaints procedures, and so the best advice I can give to determining the guidelines you need to know, would be to either request to speak to a Manager or someone more senior than the person you’re complaining about and ask them, or ask to speak with their Complaints Department. One method of complaining which I’m aware is the same throughout the UK, is that there’s an organisation called PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service – who you can read more about here) who offer confidential advice, information, and support. And they typically do this when a person has raised a concern or problem in their care from an NHS Service. PALS can help you to determine whether an incident should be reported as an informal complaint or formal.

The NHS website then provides this information…

Also, either in addition to your complaint, or instead of making one, you can inform the Care Quality Commission about your experience of a Service they regulate. The following information was taken from their website: www.cqc.org.uk

I do think, however, that it’s definitely worth mentioning the fact that so many organisations very obviously and, I suppose, understandably want to avoid receiving complaints and so they often make it difficult for you to report one. Whether that means neglecting to add the information and guidelines to making a complaint on their website or readily available in some other way, or taking their time connecting you to the right person, or delaying the processing of your complaint, or even just using various methods to try to convince you not to go ahead with it e.g. offering an apology straightaway and saying that they’ll speak to the professional themselves without you having to make the complaint. Now, your response to this is very obviously a personal one in that not everyone will feel the same when they’re being dismissed, ignored, or superficially placated. For me, though, coming up against an attitude like that in making a complaint just adds fuel to the fire to be honest! That is properly also because having made previous complaints in NHS Services, I’ve come to somewhat understand the system and the process behind each stage the complaint should go through. So, I can recognise when I’m being lied to. Again, another sad thing – you shouldn’t have to have previous experiences in order to know whether you’re being treat properly, fairly, and in a justifiable way; you should just always be treated that way!

Two Bits To Be Prepared For During The Process of Your Complaint & How To Cope With Them

1.     You’ll have to repeat everything – possibly multiple times depending upon the complaints process of the organisation responsible for the professional.

The thoughts that spring to my mind with this bit, mostly come from things around when I finally reported the abuse I had experienced to the Police (I’ve actually written two blog posts that talk about this, and you can read them here and here). I think reporting abuse is ironic; I mean every single member of staff from every single Force in the UK will encourage you to tell them when that has happened. So, when it takes you a while to do so, one of the first questions you’re asked (or at least, I was, but I was told they tend to ask it to everyone who also doesn’t report their abuse for a long period of time) is; “why didn’t you report it at the time?”

When I was asked that, I almost recoiled and instantly wanted to run out the room, but instead I replied with “why would you ask that?!” and they explained that when they put a case to CPS to determine whether the perpetrator can be prosecuted, that’s the first thing CPS ask them. So, it isn’t at all about doubting you or being invalidating – which was exactly how it had felt for me. However, despite understanding that, the question can still be hard to actually answer, because it can be something you ask yourself too. I mean, for the two years between it finishing and me reporting it, I think it would be safe to say that at least once a day I would wonder why I wasn’t speaking up. It was like I had to keep reminding myself of all my reasons for my silence because actually, it felt almost instinctively, I did want to tell the Police. I knew it was wrong and I knew it was a crime.

I feel like even if you have no experience of abuse, even if you or even someone you know haven’t had to report something like that to the Police, it’s still pretty standard knowledge and a mutual appreciation and understanding that reporting abuse would surely be challenging and upsetting. And so, with just that in mind – failing to consider any sort of personal and individual difficulties – I think it’s safe to say that if this person with no experience were to be told someone was asked why they hadn’t reported abuse sooner, they would be able to give an answer that might actually still prove to be fairly accurate!

So, ultimately, my point is when I was asked why I hadn’t reported the abuse sooner – after wanting to run out the room – I had to hold myself back from screaming at them; “because no one makes it a bloody walk in the park!” And whilst this is kind of extreme, it’s a similar premise to putting in a complaint about a professional in that the recognition that you’ll have to repeat everything and recount the horrible details over and over, can make reporting a complaint so completely off-putting. It can – because it did for me – mean that each time you tell someone else or give the same person more details or talk about some different bits to the one incident, you find yourself doubting your decision to make the complaint. And this can instigate a level of resentment which can be assigned to a complete variety of people – I mean, it could go toward yourself because you made the decision, or it could go to the profession who did the wrong-doing because they’ve put you in a position where you’ve had to make that decision, or it could go to the person/people asking you to talk about things. No matter where it goes, resentment is rarely a helpful thought or feeling.

To cope with any regrets or second-guesses about your decision, it might be helpful to have a pros list; a list of the benefits and the motivations to making the complaint and use this to look back at as a reminder that you made the decision with a ton of reasons and support. That it was the best and the right decision. And to look at it as regretting it won’t do any good because you’ve already set the wheels in motion; it’s almost like you might as well see it to the end! ‘You can’t come this far to only come this far.’

2.     You’ll always worry about the response to your complaint until you actually receive it!

There is such a huge variety of responses you might receive – and a lot of those can depend upon the actual instance you’re complaining about and who the responsible professional was – but I thought that I’d list four possibilities and the thoughts they might bring up…

1.       The professional faces consequences of some kind: This can lead to thoughts of guilt and blame; and I’d say this would be particularly true where the consequence has been really huge and possibly life-changing; like if the professional has been fired. It can cause you to debate how justifiable a consequence or punishment like that is and whether you have any responsibility for it because – in some instances – it might be that if you hadn’t complained then the professional might still be employed, on a good career path, and financially secure with all the benefits that has e.g. the ability to pay your rent and/or bills etc.

2.       The entire incident is denied by the professional: This can leave you feeling insulted; the thought that you’d spent goodness knows how long it has taken from the incident until your final, official response to the complaint, trying to cope with what had happened and what you’ve gone through in the complaint process… And all of that for them to deny it all and act or make out like you’ve experienced all that hardship for no good reason. I mean, in denying it, that can also be interpreted as you are being accused of lying and fabricating things. And then, there’s the concern as to what others will be thinking of you in terms of if they believe the professional and/or their organisation, then they’ll be wondering what motivation you might have to lie about it all.

3.       The professional or their organisation make excuses for the incident: This can be really infuriating and frustrating and is actually pretty much almost a massive circle back toward the beginning of this blog post (currently – as I type this in Word – over 8 pages ago/more than 5,500 words! So, you’re totally forgiven if you can’t remember the bit I’m referring to; but please hold on and stay with me because we’re nearly at the end!) when I talked about professionals preaching to service users to take responsibility for their actions, yet they often fail to do this themselves. I mean, it’s quite a popular train of thought to say that people shouldn’t use a mental illness as an ‘excuse’ for any poor behaviour, which – in my opinion, at least – makes some sense, but it also seems to neglect the recognition that a lot of the time, people do certain things as a direct result of their mental health (whether it be ill or not!). I think that mistreating a person and then coming up with some sort of excuse for your wrong-doing, is actually extremely disrespectful toward them because it’s almost like saying “you’re not worthy or deserving” for them to take responsibility and give you a genuine apology.

4.       The incident is admitted to, the professional recognises their responsibility and apologise: Whilst this is likely an idea response for a lot of people, it can actually raise two questions or concerns... Firstly, is the apology actually genuine, meaningful, and heartfelt? Has it been made purely out of obligation or as some sort of forced condition in that if they don’t apologise, they’ll receive disciplinary action or some other consequence? And that can lead to you wondering whether you’d rather have received no apology than one which feels totally fake and contrived. Or should you just be grateful no matter what the backstory? Then, secondly, an apologetic response can also leave you questioning whether it’s ‘good enough’ or ‘adequate’ in terms of it negating the horrible, upsetting, and negative thoughts and feelings you’ve experienced as a result of their wrong-doing. Is ‘I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise for the impact my actions have had’ a genuine and thoughtful apology? Or, does it feel like a copied and pasted sentence from a template of Trust-wide apology wording? In the lengthy report in response to my complaint against the psychiatric ward I talked about at the very beginning of this post, there were numerous apologies, and initially it meant a lot; but then I noticed – by the third or fourth one – that they were literally the exact same; no matter what specific issue they were regarding. They were in no way edited or personalised and that felt ingenuine and actually, condescending and patronising from the concern that they’ve clearly thought you wouldn’t notice.

What To Do With The Response

So, you’ve finally (even if the response to your complaint might be viewed by some to have come along fairly quickly, it likely felt like forever for you, because you’re the person who was on edge until it was done) received the response to your complaint; now what?

Unfortunately, it’s completely realistic to say that sometimes, a response to a complaint isn’t anywhere near acceptable and so it might be that you find yourself now debating whether to take it further. Making this decision, can be a lot like the process you went through in deciding to complain in the first place – and a lot of your pros and cons might even still be the same! Perhaps the one, largest, most exacerbating factor in deciding to take things further will be around the issue of having to repeat everything. I mean, going through it all again can be even more essential, important, and necessary if you’re going to be in contact with people who are more Senior or with organisations that hold more authority and responsibility. And that element can make things so much more tense, anxiety-provoking, and scary which might understandably cause you to feel more reluctant because despite having gotten through recounting the incident multiple times, doing it again for this, might feel more intimidating and pressured. Where this is the case, please don’t be afraid to reach out to and lean on anyone in your support system – whether that be a professional, a best-friend, a family member, or your pets (who, let’s face it, always makes more sense than anyone else anyway!).

So, where the response you receive is acceptable, I think that usually the next step for you to consider could be to find a way to begin moving on. This can feel so strange and a little bit scary at first because often, it has felt like the majority of your life and your time has been taken up by the complaint in some way e.g. having to write about what happened in an email, completing questionnaires and reports, speaking to those involved in investigating it, worrying about the response and finding a way to prepare for what it might be… But hopefully, the response can seem like some sort of closure to help you differentiate a new part of your life in the aftermath of it all.

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