Working with an Emotionally Abusive Boss

Okay, so this post follows my Abusive Bosses Create Unhealthy Workplace where I described a more volatile abusive boss.  My second boss was a bit nicer on the surface but highly controlling and a bit more manipulative.

Most of my co-worker’s would describe my abusive bosses behavior as a ‘Napoleon Complex’ or even ‘Little Man’s Syndrome’ and I completely agree.

This relationship actually really reminds me of my first relationship after I left my abusive ex-husband and found a less abusive relationship.  I could have easily stayed in that second relationship, especially when I compared it to my first relationship.

My common statement to describe that situation is, “When your bar is that low, anything seems good after that.”

My second boss was much nicer and easier to tolerate that my first abusive boss.  Lets give these bosses names so I can give better comparison.  Lets say the first abusive boss is named Chris and the second one is named Joe.

Whenever I compared Joe’s behavior to the super abusive Chris he always seemed much nicer.  I guess they would seem that way for a while until you get healthier and start realizing they are abusive too.

Unlike a personal relationship with an abuser, you are probably not going to find yourself in a physical abusive situation with a boss.  Thank god, the laws are probably going to protect you there better than they do with domestic abuse.  Dealing with abusive bosses will probably be controlling and likely fall under these types of abuses; psychological, financial, emotional and possibly sexually.

My boss often gave compliments but were often sandwiched between two insults.  Joe might say, “The report you gave me was a train wreck, your power point presentation was very good and I needed that Task completed yesterday.  Where are you on that?.”  Typically my boss gave me very vague instructions if any at all.  Sometimes I was pretty sure he never asked me to do a project I did not get to him.

Sometimes assignments came by email with a simple statement, “See below.”  Which actually meant ‘See below, read the string of 8 emails, and read all parties minds and get it completed now’.

So to give you a little insight into my mind based on recent events.  Okay so in April my one and only assistant resigns because she felt the workload was too much, she did not feel appreciated and she did not believe anything was going to change anytime soon.  Thankfully I do not think she felt unappreciated by me but knew I did not have the support I needed for her.

So Joe, my abusive boss, was super pissed that she was resigning and decided to ignore her for the entire two weeks.  The only reason she was able to work her final two weeks was because I told him I needed her.  In March she had received an iPhone as a bonus and she submitted her expense for it in April.  He truly started talking about the depreciation value of the phone and not wanting to pay for it.  The day she resigned just happened to be after our company ‘bowling party’ and he was really mad that she went and then resigned.  Seriously, is this not completely childish or what.

Okay so my assistant makes it out of the company and is so happy to be gone.  When she left I was really ready to leave too because our workload was already too much even with her working and she helped out a lot.  Once she left I was going to have to take care of everything again and I barely had time for what I had to do.  So we found a new person to hire, and you know something is wrong when you feel bad for the person you are hiring.

You are hiring someone to work at your company and you feel bad for them, “You poor thing, you do not even know how miserable you will be, I am so sorry that I can’t tell you this job sucks.”

Okay so less than a week after my assistant’s last day I decided making Nothing might be better than the way it was.  As my boss continued to grow his company he became increasingly arrogant, demanding and you always had this feeling that nothing you would ever do would be good enough.  So I sent in my letter of resignation via email.  I know, email resignation is unprofessional, but this would be the second time I resigned.

I resigned last summer when I received an offer that was almost 3 times what I was currently making.  When I resigned, Joe came back with an offer that was more than double what I was currently making and allowed me to work from home two days a week.  My husband and I decided we would accept that offer because the new company was a start-up and that fate was really unknown.  So I guess getting that kind of increase and working from home away from the work environment made it tolerable for a while more.

This time I knew even if he paid me 3-4 times what I was currently making, the workload was simply too much for one person, he expected too much, his behavior was becoming more erratic and my resentment was growing to a point of intolerance.  Keep in mind that nothing at the job would have worked without me.  All of the workload was in my department and my boss needed me for everything because he really doesn’t know enough.  Perhaps because he does not know is one of the reason he always minimized what I was doing.

He would actually say, “Oh, it only takes about 10 minutes to set that up.” This was for something that would take a half a day at best.  That was certainly an insult.

Okay, so back to my resigning…

When people get fearful they tend to get angry and that is what he did.  On that Monday I talked to him and asked him about my unpaid vacation and what happens to it, do I get paid, do I have to use it or lose it?  He got so mad at me and told me, “Get out of my office.”  I sat there for minute stunned, trying to figure out what part of my statement made him so mad.  I asked him why he was acting like that.  He said, “You said you wanted to get paid on your vacation and you were leaving in 5 minutes if I did not do what you want.”  I most certainly did not say that and I repeated exactly what I said.  Then he told me, “Get out of here.”  I asked, “Get out of the office or the building?”  He said, “Whatever! I don’t care!”  So I left and sent an email with our entire conversation and instructions in the ‘per your instructions’ format.

So on Wednesday he sent me an email telling me my last day would be Friday.  He took away 3 paid vacation days, gave me a laundry list of instructions, said they might be calling me to tie up any lose ends and expected me to be available and said he would pay me my last 7 days at the end of the month.  Although he did not say so, the message certainly hinted that I had better be available and my pay was to be held based on my compliance.

He called me that Thursday to ask about a blog I had created about how companies like us steal people’s money (of course I said it in a very tactful but true way).  No where was my name on this blog, any specific facts, my current companies name or any other details that could point that way.  Turns out my husband ‘Liked It’ and it posted on his Facebook page where someone saw it and told my boss.  So now my boss is freaking out because he believes I am building a company that could affect his.  He could be right because I had the skills and talent and certainly could do it without a boss.

Actually my blog has a bigger purpose than my boss.  I do not believe in what we were doing or other companies that follow the same path.  They basically rip people off and it is unethically and morally wrong.  Although I made pretty good money, we were not doing anything I could really be proud about.  In fact, most of the companies who hired us were stealing money too.

Anyway, on my last day he had me in there with our newest team member.  I actually thought my boss would behave better with a witness in the room.  My boss was very abusive and was not even trying to hide it.

When we got back into my office my co-worker asked, “Why is he being so mean to you?  He is so paranoid and angry.  I have never seen him act like that before.  He should be taking you out to lunch and wishing you well.  He really doesn’t know anything.  He is all talk.  He puts on a really good show.”

My co-worker was very correct.  I just needed to get through the day.  So my husband picked me up for lunch to be supportive.  I am glad he did that because it was a hard day.  Emotionally hard and stressful.

After lunch I had to go and sit in the office with my abusive boss and co-worker for over an hour while we removed my Administrator access to everything.  He even called many of our vendors stating, “She is no longer with the company and we need to remove her access.”  I am sitting right there.  I even said so, “Do I really need to be here for this?  There is nothing I can do about removing my access.”  He said, “This isn’t personal, it is just business.”  Just the fact that he said that shows you how personal it all was.

He had always shown his abusive side but when I was actually leaving he was much worse.  I was sitting there thinking how unconcerned I was about burning a bridge but he should be more careful not to burn one with me.  He very much did and I would not help them if pigs were flying over hell freezing over.  When the day was completely I left and cried, and I was a little mad that I cried.  Yet, one thing I could tell you was that a tough and stressful day.  Although compared to what I have been through in the past it was nothing.  It certainly felt a lot like breaking up with someone or getting divorced.  However, I do not have any ties and have no reason to communicate with him in the future.

My 7 days paid vacation may or may not be paid to me at the end of the the month.  I did get my full pay on the 15th.  I had to trust in God and take a leap of faith and I know I will land on my feet just fine.

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8 thoughts on “Working with an Emotionally Abusive Boss

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  1. Hey There Isthisabusive,

    Relationships are a challenge for many people. They require effort, commitment, and a degree of emotional maturity to be successful. Some relationship dynamics are unbalanced and unhealthy. 

    If a relationship is emotionally abusive, the victim is likely to struggle with feeling in inferior, incompetent, and even wonder if he or she is crazy. This is the effect of continuous criticism and controlling behavior, and can result in lowered self esteem and even depression. Here are 5 signs you are being emotionally abused:
    Good Job!


  2. I am in the same situation and believe me, i feel like nothing and i am thinking of quiting because everyday the office is on fire. She shouts at me like someone who doesnt think.


  3. I’m currently dealing with this and although I have a family to support its like walking on egg shells with my boss. From what I was told if document everything I may be entitled to unemployment benefits. Just don’t know what to do but I dread going into the office every day


  4. why is this behavior allowed to go on in the workplace??…we need to stand up and stop abuse in all forms, from bullies in the playground, in the home and especially in the workplace… a person has a right to earn a living without feeling like they are back in second grade waiting for the school bully to knock them over and steal their lunch money….I have been a victim of verbal and emotional abuse from my boss for well over two years….for the most part these incidences blow over and then he just ignores me and disrespects my abilities….that I can live with but recently he has screamed and cursed and me so horribly that I have suffered physically from it…I cry, can’t eat, can’t sleep…..I am terrified to come to work and here is the kicker….there are only three people in our office one being the boss….the other employee and I get along wonderfully!!…quitting is not an option at this moment financially so I just have to deal with the screaming and bad language for now….but after reading all these stories on the internet this seems to be a widespread problem…how can there be NO laws in place to protect the worker from an abusive boss..lets work on this people we need to take actio


  5. I am also dealing with this. He even emails me after work hours in the middle of the night and has stalked me on social media websites and outside the building.


  6. A few years ago I had took a job in Beijing. My very first month there. my boss started harassing me in this fashion. I made my plans to leave immediately. I wasn’t going to stay for the whole pony show. everyone said I was paranoid yet I was routinely put through unusual things no one else ever had to do in the workplace. getting talked down to constantly, getting yelled at. I luckily had a strong social life outside of work and outside of the company that my close friends were able to tell me what it was and that I need to make plans to leave at the end of the month. I did just that. unfortunately that meant having to leave China without having another job lined up, but I have been better off in the long-run. Made amazing business connections in Beijing and was able to do stuff in Vancouver related to East Asia. Now as an entrepreneur I don’t ever ever rely on a full time job as a sole source of income. it makes you a slave to those types of unhealthy relationships as your financial wellbeing is at constant risk.


    1. I have made the decision to leave two companies due to controlling and passive aggressive bosses. Thankfully, my current place of employment is pretty healthy and there isn’t any manipulation or backstabbing from coworkers either. Seems like everyone really wants everyone to succeed. Sad that this is not a normal work experience.


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