Verbal abuse at work should not be tolerated and is clearly defined in South African law. The definition is complex, but basically you should never feel like the way that your boss or a colleague has spoken to you is legitimate if it constitutes degradation, harassment, sexism or racism. The daily acceptance of these types of abuse can lead to tremendous emotional and psychological harm and behaviour signs like fear, stress, and nervous ticks. Human rights are an essential part of our constitution and they are enshrined in various pieces of legislation so that you have the power behind you when facing abuse. If you don’t feel like you are strong enough to take action yourself, seek the advice of a lawyer who will be able to help you.
It can be really difficult to stand up to verbal abuse at work, but it should be done as soon as possible. The longer you leave awkward situations like that the more power is given to the abuser. In fact, you should immediately report it to your superior so that the offending person may receive a warning. If the person who is abusing you is your superior and there is nobody to turn to, then seek the advice of a lawyer who will be able to effectively assist you in using the law to protect your human rights to dignity and equality. Do not ignore the emotional and psychological signs of this abuse, because they can be extremely powerful.
By definition you are a person of worth. You don’t need to stand for abuse at work, and if it continues you have a right to use the law to protect yourself. Do not fear the abuser, because that gives them power. Take the advice and warning of your lawyer seriously, and always make sure that you take care of yourself. Do not allow someone to subject you to any types of verbal abuse in your place of employment.