Abuse in The Workplace

Verbal attacks, harassment, brutal condescension. Acts of belittling, embarrassing and all out indignity and humiliation. This is the ugly side of yacht working that many don’t want to mention. It’s never spoken about until it goes too far.

Abuse in the yachting industry is still considered a taboo subject to address. It has been going on, although publicly avoided, for years. This was all until recently, when a concerned yachtie took to Facebook to lament her concerns about the industry issue:

“ Over the course of the past few years, I have had more than just a few students sitting on my couch so damaged by their experience during their first year on board a boat, that they were actually not able to recount the horrendous abuse they had endured at the hands of their chief.stew. One was quite literally shell shocked and shook every time she tried to address the subject. And no, not a whimpie girl (she is) bright, focused and hardworking.”


While most responses to the post were users expressing their outrage, there were a number of yachties who suggested the guilty parties be called out. “An anonymous name and shame Facebook page,” was suggested as well as a “blacklist.”

There seems to be a general concern that there are too many instances where discipline is taken too far, that HoD’s and seniors are overusing their power to bully and terrorize their crew. The question then becomes; how can one deal with it? Who do you turn to when your leader is the one causing you stress and anguish? What do you do when you chief stew is menacing the rest of the crew but the Captain is afraid to step in


Behavioural studies suggest that the best way to deal with abusive bosses is to emotionally disengage. This helps when your senior is unleashing a oral onslaught about you not performing your morning tasks to their satisfaction. Common sense is lost on these types of people. Tyrants tend to believe, unwaveringly, that their word is bible and anything else is nonsense. So don’t try appeal to their logical or level-headed nature; they don’t posses it.
This is often easier for men to do than women, as men are programmed to sideline and silence their emotions while women are more often than not emotionally liberated.

But abuse isn’t something you should learn to deal with. Being attacked, daily, in the workplace should not be something you are forced to adapt to. The violator should be schooled in how to treat people with respect.


So report your superior. The mere act of deciding that you will no longer sit idly by, taking the abuse can do great things for your self esteem. Standing up for yourself even when a bully has made you feel small is testament of your courage. But, as one of yacht worker mentioned during the discussion, “what does outing bullies whom have been reported of the same behaviour several times do?? This problem won't go away”

Abuse in the workplace has carried on as long as it has because calling out perpetrators only goes so far. Service ends and the Chief Stew, or the Head Chef, or the Head Engineer finds work on another yacht and continues his/her domination elsewhere. These people need to be held accountable. They need to experience severe consequences for their actions if needs be.


A Facebook user mentioned an instance of sexual harassment that went unreported because the victim was too frightened to make a statement against one of her crew members. It is evident that safe channels of communication need to be established, and legal protocol followed, for the sake of our fellow crew members.

By no means do we offer an answer to this problem. Crew HQ maintains a zero tolerance of abuse of any kind in the workplace. We understand that this is a problem plaguing the industry and it must be dealt with fiercely. This industry issue needs to be brought to the forefront of discussions so that we can collectively come up with solutions.