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What Are the Signs of Workplace Emotional Abuse?

As an Iowa worker, you know that your workplace is not idyllic. Not everyone gets along at all times. Sadly, you are lucky if you do not have to deal with at least one “bad apple” on a daily basis. But at what point do heedless, uncaring, demeaning words and/or actions on the part of one employee toward another rise to the level of emotional abuse?

Per, a site dealing with employment issues, defining emotional abuse can be difficult because it means different things to different people. However, it generally is characterized by one or all of the following:

  • It is deliberate: The abuser chooses the words and actions by which (s)he victimizes you.
  • It often is part of a power play: The abuser usually is your supervisor, boss or someone else higher on the corporate ladder than you.
  • It happens regularly: The abuser persists in victimizing you, often escalating his or her aggression with each occurrence.
  • It almost always involves non-physical behaviors: The abuser prefers insults, threats, etc. rather than conducting open warfare against you that employees in addition to you surely would object to, or maybe even curtail.

Debilitating effects

The effects of workplace emotional abuse are serious. It can destroy your self-esteem and denigrate your self-worth. No matter how competent you know you are at your job, constant criticism takes its heavy toll. You may begin to assume total blame for anything that goes wrong at work. You may even begin to expect that you will make mistakes. This, in turn, often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more mistakes you expect to make, the more mistakes you will, in fact, make. The downward spiral is never-ending.

At its worst, workplace emotional abuse can result in your developing psychological and/or physical conditions that require medical attention. You could be scarred for life. Consequently, your best strategy is to keep track of what occurs and when. Once you have your evidence compiled, file a formal complaint with your company. If the matter is not satisfactorily resolved, you may have a valid claim for workplace discrimination and/or personal injury. This is general information only and not intended to provide legal advice.