Abusive Boss and the Unhealthy Workplace

So this week I received a call from a former co-worker who was still working for my old boss.  Well, she was until Monday when she made the decisions to quit.  My response was, “OMG Congrats.”  She said, “I feel so free.”  I asked her what she was going to be doing.  She said “Nothing!”  She said she had just had enough and just quit.

She said it was so bad that she would wake up in the mornings with her neck & shoulders so tense it would make her hands hurt.  It is awful to be in a work situation that takes such a toll on your physical well being.  I found myself feeling some sort of excitement that she quit.  After thinking about it for a while I realize the strongest feeling I felt was ‘validation’.  Now there has been 2 others that just flat out quit and one that you couldn’t have paid her enough to stay.  The common denominator in this job was our abusive boss.  The biggest complaint for all of us about our job was specifically our boss.  According to a Huffington Post Abusive Boss article, over 80% of employees leave their jobs because of their boss.

It really is a shame that there are so many unhealthy work environments in so many companies these days.  This creates a very unhealthy situation for the employee and there is almost nothing that you can do to stop it.  In my work situations both bosses were making the company money and that meant more to the company than a healthy work environment.  In fact, the first company made that very clear about my boss making the company at lot of money and they were going to pick him over me.

Plus other employees often need their job and would not be willing to stand united against the boss.  The employees just quit one-by-one over time.  One quit over a year ago, another a year ago, I quit 8 months ago and another this week.  Now they have a bunch of new employees that haven’t hit the point of sick and tired quite yet.  Three out of four of us quit without a new job lined up.  Things typically have to be pretty bad for you to choose to do that.  My choosing to quit was certainly going to impact my family and I thought long and hard before making the decisions to resign.

Things to watch out for in a Company:

  • Are they chasing the almighty dollar?
  • Do they have a revolving door of employees?
  • Is your boss the only person you can report to?

It probably wouldn’t take long for the abusive boss to figure out they are not going to get fired and without consequences they have no reason to change their behavior.  Knowing they won’t get fired could even make the situation even more difficult to endure too.  This knowledge would give an abusive boss quite a rush of power to be able to abuse his/her employees without any risk of losing their job.

A situation with an abusive boss would have to be done through emotional, mental or financial abuse tactics.  I am sure you are going to find a few sexual abuse situations but at least there are laws that make it harder for someone to get away with that.  However, how could you prove emotional abusive from a boss any easier than you can from a romantic partner?  There are no visible wounds to prove what is happening.

Also, I would think it is much easier for an abusive boss to abuse their employees in today’s economy.  With so many people looking for jobs or coming out of college it makes it easier for the company to pay less or the worker to accept less than what they are worth.  Plus in salary positions where they are underpaid and overworked it just makes it even worse.

It is just as easy to feel trapped when your financial well-being is a stake, most people can’t just up and quit.  I spent a year trying to decide how I was going to quit and trying to get another job.  I had some really decent interviews but they were always out of state and wanted me to move there.  That was extremely frustrating at times.

A companies health starts from the top down and if the company is more interested in earning money than creating a healthy workplace then that is a real shame.  There are many companies that recognize it is very expensive to hire & train new people.  These types of companies do their best to create a healthy work environment for their employees.  Unfortunately, I do not think there is as many healthy companies as unhealthy ones. Of course, this is just speculation on my part, but finding a healthy company to work for seems easier said than done.


3 thoughts on “Abusive Boss and the Unhealthy Workplace

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  1. Absolutely wonderful to read! You have a belief that you are not a push over yet finances and family force you into positions that are wrong. It isn’t the abuse its the psychology of abuse cruel/mean and questioning your intelligence… then the hugs and the you’re wonderful and don’t leave me, drinks and even little gifts. Also the ability to make you feel sorry for them and I do. I am a psychological battlefield and financially dependent.


  2. I am not an attorney or a counselor, but I am a person who is passionate about creating a healthy workplace. I have some ideas, but these are my opinions, so please take what I say with a grain of salt. You can prove that a supervisor is abusive by documenting everything factually and objectively. If you think that the situation is harassment or discrimination (legal definition, not what you feel is harassment or discrimination), you can see if there is a 3rd year law student you can speak to through a legal clinic at a nearby university if you don’t want to pay a licensed attorney for a consultation. Usually they have enough knowledge and are far enough into their training to understand what’s going on. It would be ideal to conduct a confidential job search in the midst of an abusive workplace situation, but I don’t think that it is a realistic option for many people and sometimes, biting the bullet financially and quitting might provide more time for you to find a job that is a better fit and could prevent the onset of more depression and anxiety. I don’t know what that looks like for each person, but there are options out there and if I were in a situation where it was possible, I would volunteer to be laid off if I were unhappy with a company I was with and they were going to embark on the next wave of layoffs. There are no pat answers and looking for a job is very difficult, but when you know what you are looking for and detach yourself emotionally from that traumatizing situation at work and the people, it makes the process of leaving a crazy job and looking for another one a lot more tolerable.


  3. I am in a situation where almost embarrassingly I have to say I am a male and my abusive boss/co-worker is a female. This is probably why I hung on so long. I have worked in a family business for over 17 years (almost 18) and I had a relative who came to work for this company 10 years ago. Two years ago she tried to frame me for having a relationship with another employee. It was false and went to legal team to settle it to just get her and her daughter to stop. He sister is my mother. The stress and embarrassment of being told to bury this for the good of the company or else has led to symptoms of PTSD.

    The last two years I feel like every morning I am psyching myself out to get through the day and preparing to go into battle but I am just going in to work. This relative often shift blame for things she forgot to do on to me or other employees. I often do not stand for it and expose the truth, almost making it worse y embarrassing her because she is trying to pin it on others. I probably shouldn’t do this but it is wrong! There is undermining tactics etc,. etc. this person in the past has cost our company almost $100K in settling law suites from former employees who made claims against her for harassment or holding up paperwork for them to get COBRA to transfer insurance. I have no idea why her sister the owner keeps her around and trusts her?

    About a month a go without notice I and another exec in the firm were informed she was made President of the company and over all boss. Things were okay for a week or two but the tactics have no turned to getting us out of there. It’s pretty blatant what its going on.

    I feel so betrayed and lost after 18 years. I feel like I should have seen the signs 10 years ago when this monster made the comment to me “if I don’t drive I don’t play.” She is truly seems like untreated bipolar disorder.

    My wife and I made the decision together a week ago that I was going to quit with or without new employment. I am giving my mother two months notice this week which is generous but I am DONE! I spent the last 7 years putting my wife through nursing school and she is now almost done with her masters. I also paid our little tiny house off too. It small, simple but it is mine and paid for. Now is the time to clam my life back. I almost don’t want a job as I feel like I need some time to heal from the effects of PTSD.

    I am scared about leaving a well paying job but I almost feel like I am getting sprung from prison. I am excited just to feel free again. I am excited to tend to my kids needs agina like their mother did before she went into full time nursing. I feel a call to do art and create beautiful things and get closer to GOD. I just hope I can find a position when I am ready to go back to work.

    Scared and exited at the same time….


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