Posted on

Work abuse


by Nailah John Fri, Oct 19, 2012

Millions of people enter the workplace every Monday saying, “is it Friday yet?” On Fridays, millions more say “thank God, it’s Friday.” Others frequently sigh and struggle just to get inside the buildings and refer to their situations as “burn-out” and “work stress,” when realistically for most of those people, the true problem is an abusive work environment. Millions of people hate their jobs.{{more}}

Workplace harassment by employers or managers should have no place in today’s world. This is a fairly unrecognized issue, yet is a serious problem affecting many people.The true problem is an abusive work environment: one that disempowers people and destroys self-esteem.


Work abuse is the brutalizing and dehumanizing of a person through patterned ways of interacting at work. This includes systematic denial that emotional abuse is happening.

The interactions are determined by a “work culture”—a set of unconscious rules, or “norms” about how things are done, what is allowed or not allowed, and what is, or is not, faced openly and talked about.

Work abuse can affect a whole organization, a work group within the organization—or it can be focused on one individual, the scapegoat for the department. The scapegoat takes the focused blame and negative feelings, the abuse, of everyone. When the scapegoated person inevitably leaves or is fired, someone else may be selected by the group to fill the slot. Sometimes an entire office or department performs the scapegoat function, the negativity sink, for the organization.

The level of emotional and psychological abuse in the workplace is difficult to determine. There are many horror stories of workplace stress that violate labour laws that are surfacing to employment lawyers.Workplace bullying is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that can mentally hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Bullying involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behaviour that is intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group of people. It’s also described as the assertion of power through aggression.

Examples of Bullying:

Sometimes workplace harassment by employers can be very subtle or obvious. Some examples may be: excluding or isolating someone from certain benefits or opportunities; intimidation; undermining or deliberately impeding the employee from working; removing areas of responsibilities without just cause; constantly changing work guidelines; establishing impossible deadlines; withholding information or providing wrong information; assigning unreasonable duties; not providing enough work to create a sense of uselessness; yelling or using profane language or persistently criticizing the employee.

How can Workplace Bullying Affect an Individual?

People who are victims of workplace abuse may experience a range of effects. These reactions include:

o shock
o anger
o total frustration
o anxiety
o increased sense of vulnerability
o inability to sleep
o loss of appetite
o panic attacks about going to work
o headaches, pains
o inability to concentrate
o low morale and productivity

What to Do?

Always keep a daily journal to log what happened, the time it occurred and if there were any witnesses. Include as many details as possible about each incident. This information will be highly beneficial if the situation warrants outside intervention. Be sure to keep the journal private from other employees and place it in a safe location. Keep hard copies (at your home) of any letters, memos, emails or faxes received from the employer or manager.

It is very important to never retaliate to a given situation, as you may end up looking like the perpetrator. Remaining calm and appearing as though everything is fine is a very difficult, yet necessary task and will take its toll. Be sure to have a support system of family and friends. Talking will release some of the stress. Finding safe methods of stress reduction is crucial to maintain good physical and mental health.

If you know someone who is suffering from workplace abuse be sure to provide as much support as possible. If you feel you are being bullied, discriminated or subjected to any form of harassment you need to get help. A good place to start is the Department of Labour.

LOVNSVG is here to help. Contact us at
Leave out violence in SVG