If you ever thought that Emotional Abuse could never happen in the workplace, you need to have a rethink. Emotional Abuse deals with emotions and people display emotions anywhere and in any situation… so the workplace is not exempted.

Just like any type of Emotional Abuse, the workplace emotional abuse can be obvious or very subtle. The victims always feel like they are at fault and deserve the abuse, they try to find ways to appease the Abuser which usually leads to more abuse. It can occur at the Supervisor – Subordinate level or among Co-workers. The abuse may come in the form of verbal comments that can cause emotional pain & when it is repetitive and humiliating; it can be termed as bullying. Some examples of Emotional Abuse in the workplace are:

  • Deliberately excluding Subordinates from benefits & opportunities
  • Hurling insults repeatedly at Subordinates in a bid to scare them & lower their self esteem
  • Removing responsibilities or changing work patterns in an attempt to coerce resignation
  • Creating a hostile work environment for Co-workers
  • Accusing a Co-worker falsely
  • Bullying or threatening a Co-worker with physical harm
  • Hiding information from a Co-worker in a bid to jeopardize his job
  • Repeated threats to fire a Subordinate in a bid to instill fear in him
  • Discrimination based on gender, race, nationality, religion, etc…


  • Obsessing about work on days off
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety/Panic attacks at the thought of going to work
  • Low productivity at work
  • Unnecessary fear of the Boss


  • Face it & conquer it: Admit to yourself that you are being abused & understand that the Abuser has as much effect on you as you let him. Learn not to internalize the attacks
  • Inform the HR department of the abuse and insist that it be resolved
  • If the Abuser is your Superior/Boss, seek to put in your best at work irrespective of the abuse. Make him think that the abuse isn’t getting to you. Your fear feeds the abusive behavior, so starve it by acting unfazed

Ultimately, if you have tried everything to avoid the Abuser at work but he still remains persistent and your organization has refused to do anything about the abuse; you may want to look out for a better and healthy work environment.  Prolonged Emotional Abuse in the workplace can adversely affect your career.