Abused at Work? Here’s What You Should Do

Work Frustrations

Abuse in the workplace involves any behavior that causes physical or emotional harm and includes discrimination, harassment, violence, and bullying. Dealing with abuse in the workplace is difficult, and victims often feel isolated and alone. If you are a victim of abuse in the workplace, you are not alone. This article explores what you should do to combat workplace abuse.

Initiate a Dialogue

If you are being abused at work, it is important to start a dialogue. In some instances, such as with verbal abuse, a person may not recognize that he or she is being abusive. There are several types of verbal abuse in the workplace that could occur, such as yelling, making threats, name-calling, and blaming. Try to talk with your abuser about his or her actions and politely ask him or her to stop. If you are afraid to speak with your abuser directly, discuss the situation with a manager or trusted colleague. If you do not speak up about the abuse, no one will know it is happening. If no one is aware of the abuse, how will anyone be able to help?

File a Complaint with HR

It is important to file a complaint against your abuser with HR. Documenting abuse provides you with protection against your abuser. When filing a complaint, you should report the following:

  • The date, time, and location of the event 
  • The exact words or statements made 
  • Your response to the event 
  • Any prior incidents of abuse 

Having documentation of the abuse is important, especially in the case that your abuser continues to target you or others. These complaints could also be evidence in a case against your abuser.

Take Legal Action

Once you file a formal complaint, your employer is now legally responsible for the abuse. However, repercussions may sometimes be unsatisfactory. If you feel that your organization did not properly handle the complaint, you can file a lawsuit against your abuser. To file a harassment lawsuit, you must first file an administrative charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or another specified state agency. When it is filed, the EEOC either dismisses your charge or requests that your employer settles, investigates or takes some other action. Once the EEOC or state agency processes your claim, it sends a notice to your employer about its findings. The agency will also send you a right to sue letter. This document is necessary to file a federal lawsuit against your abuser.

Should I Go Back to Work After Experiencing Abuse?

Returning to work after enduring abuse is scary, especially if your abuser is still there. If you feel strong enough to return to work, then do it. Whether you decide to return to work, take time off or find somewhere new, take time to heal from those negative experiences. When you’re ready, you’ll be able to return to work stronger and with confidence.

If you are being abused at work, don’t wait to act. Speak up, and if necessary, file a complaint. Most importantly, give yourself time to heal. You should consider sharing your experiences. One day, they may help someone else deal with workplace abuse.

If you need help healing after abuse, the RISE program may be for you. Contact me today to schedule your session.

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