Abuse at Work

March 27, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly

I witnessed verbal and financial abuse at my first job after leaving my ex. When the abuser was not around, the shop was fun and I enjoyed working there. When the abuser was present, people acted differently and the atmosphere became oppressive. The air would lighten a little when she, the abuser, would enter the shop and appear happy, but darken the moment she stormed through the doors with a scowl. The shop doors were like a stage curtain opening - we really didn't know what to expect until the diva appeared in view.

divaFortunately, I was not the one who suffered her verbal blows; my boss took the brunt of her words and financial control. I saw, with a detached perspective, our boss manipulating me into the roles of both informer and tattle-tale. She tried to make me believe I was her buddy; she attempted to fill my mind with her conflicting viewpoints about her shop foreman (my boss). She told me she loved him "like a brother" as she weaved her vindictive tales and I felt terrible for any real brother she had.

She attempted to keep me on the hook with dreams of someday being a cornerstone of her business. She knew I loved the work and had attempted my own such business a decade prior. She told me that she would be there for me, that she would support my decision to return to school with time and financial assistance if needed. She said she saw potential in me that she hadn't seen in a long time, and part of me wanted to lap it up, believe in her promises, and put up with her temperament long enough to grasp the golden ring.

But the scenario had an eerily familiar ring to it. I suspected she would soon begin to love me "like a sister" and that thought quickly brought me back to reality.

She knew why I needed work in a hurry (left my ex and needed to support myself) and about my history (abusive marriage). I think I looked like an excellently manipulative target to her. After all, many women who leave abusive marriages either return to the marriage or repeat the experience with their next partner. In her warped world view, subconsciously or consciously, I seemed like the kind of person who would put up with her crap based on the promise of a better future.

She was wrong, but I almost succumbed. I loved the work. I wanted to use my hands on projects that had a beginning and end. I wanted to allow my mind to heal from the past by doing something physical that would end in beautiful finished projects, works that I could photograph and say, "I helped create this!" My need for self-confidence and self-pride was so great, that I almost stayed with her. I turned down the job I have now for more than a month even though the pay at my current job worked out to be $3 more per hour and was salaried so hours worked couldn't be ripped away from me on a whim.

Although I was not subject to her verbal abuse (yet), I was a witness to it. If I had stayed at that job, I think I would have eventually gained enough ability to become a threat to her. As it was, my lack of skill and experience was not a threat to her. I was a pawn, a useful idiot, someone whom she could easily control and manipulate.

I was primed for eventual abuse, but I left. I don't want it anywhere in my life ever again. I'm not going to accept it for any reason anymore.

The next post will be evidence of abuse my supervisor suffered while employed by her.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, March 27). Abuse at Work, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 21 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

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