Back in January 2018 I quit my job because of my department manager's constant bullying. He used to almost always make fun of my weight: He once told me that maybe if I had lost some weight, I would have had the stamina to complete a task on time.
He was a nightmare to deal with. I couldn't do anything because the HR personnel responsible for our department knew about all these violations and decided not to do anything about them. He also had a good relationship with the upper management and I'm an entry level employee who's easily replaceable.
I’m not a troublemaker and don’t know how to stand up for myself. From day one, I was afraid I might lose my job despite how horrible it was, but I decided to carry on and pretend nothing was affecting me. 1.5 years later, I couldn’t take it anymore: I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and was crying uncontrollably multiple times a day. To give you an idea of how professionally corrupt that company is, the same HR personnel didn’t come to work on the day I was supposed to have my exit interview. I sent an email to reschedule but never got a response.
Now I’m working online and looking for a full-time job. Whenever an employer sees that I quit my job in January and have been looking for one since, they immediately ask: Were you laid off? When I say no, following up with the usual “looking for a new challenge” response, they raise their eyebrows.
I don’t know how I should respond to this. Should I tell the truth and say I left because of my manager’s bullying?
My question is different from this one because I want to know how to address the issue of leaving work because of bullying, which is not mentioned in the other question.