A Woman's
Guide to
Abuse at

by Ginny NiCarthy,
Naomi Gottlieb, Sandra Coffman

You don't have to take it!

  • Does your boss shout at you or humiliate you in front of others?
  • Is a co-worker calling you offensive names or sexually harassing you?
  • Is there a pattern of intimidation and control in your workplace?
  • Do you often feel sick or worn out on work days, even though no signs of physical illness exist?
  • Do you wish that you could do something to feel better about your job, but don't know where or how to begin?
You Don't Have to Take It! is a book that can help you recognize and respond to emotional abuse on the job by giving you tools to take control of your working life.

Packed with information, the book provides exercises and practical advice for coping with controlling, abusive supervisors and harassing co-workers, as well as suggestions for assertive confrontation and workplace organizing. Woven through the book are real-life accounts from women in all kinds of jobs who tell about the abuse they experienced and how they fought it, including:
  • a newspaper editor dealing with a sexist boss
  • a construction worker who confronts harassment from her all-male crew
  • a nurse who stands up to her controlling supervisor
  • a staff of social workers who fight to save their agency from a destructive administrator.
This book can help you assert your rights and put an end to the feeling of being trapped in an abusive work environment. You deserve to work in an emotionally healthy workplace. You don't have to take anything less!

[from the back cover]

NiCarthy, Gottlieb, Coffman -- You Don't Have to Take It! A Woman's Guide to Confronting Emotional Abuse at Work

About the Author

Ginny NiCarthy's name is familiar to tens of thousands of women as the author of Getting Free: You Can End Abuse and Take Back Your Life, the groundbreaking book on abuse of women by intimate partners that has now sold over 120,000 copies. Ms. NiCarthy is also the co-author of an easy-to-read version of this bestseller called You Can Be Free and co-author of two important books: Talking It Out and The Ones Who Get Away (all published by Seal Press). Ginny NiCarthy has been active in the movement to end violence against women for over 18 years as a writer and counselor. She has been instrumental in starting programs for rape victims and battered women, including groups for lesbians and women of color. She lives in Seattle.

Naomi Gottlieb is Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Washington in Seattle. She has been on the faculty there since 1970 and was Associate Dean from 1974 to 1985. From 1975 to the present, she coordinated the development of a special curriculum sequence on women, the first in the country for graduate social work students. She was co-founder of the journal Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work. Her books include Alternative Social Services for Women, The Woman Client, and Feminist Social Work Services in Clinical Settings.

Sandra J. Coffman is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Clinical Psychology Department at the University of Washington. She co-authored Talking It Out with Ginny NiCarthy and Karen Merriam and has written many professional articles. A psychologist in independent practice in Seattle, she has provided training and supervision nationwide on the issues of physical and emotional abuse, trauma and depression.

[from the soft cover edition]

Table of Contents

Introduction  xi

Section I: The Power of Naming Work Abuse

1. What Is Abuse at Work, Anyway?   3
2. Naming Emotional Abuse on the Job  16
3. The Special Case of Sexual Harassment  37

Section II: The Big Picture

3. The Special Case of Sexual Harassment  57
5. Myths of the "Working Woman"  81
6. The Double Whammy of Stress and Abuse  95

Section III: Preparing for Action

7. Discover Your Individual Voice 111
8. The Thought Is Mother to the Feeling 132

Section IV: Choosing Your Options

9. Passivity, Aggression or Assertiveness 151
10. Out on a Limb: Risks for You and Your Family 162
11. Going It Alone: Other Individual Choices 177

Section V: Knowing Your Workplace

12. Your Boss and Power 193
13. Shadow Organizations 207

Section VI: Taking Individual Action
to Stop Abuse at Work

14. Target Your Goal 223
15. The Nitty-Gritty of Assertive Confrontation 240
16. Evaluation and Follow-Through 262

Section VII: Action with Others

17. You Don't Have to Go It Alone 281
18. Collective Action 303
19. Using the Law and Government Agencies 320

Section VIII: Conclusion

20. Where Do We Go From Here? 341





[from the softbound edition]


Some women like flirting at work, bantering with "the boys." The atmosphere where you work may have a playful sexiness--an atmosphere you enjoy. At first, you might be flattered by sexual attention from a boss or co-worker. If you admire him or are impressed by his high status, his attention may seem immensely flattering. But when the pressure continues even after you reject the advances, you may become fearful and anxious. A graduate student says:
I would say half the women I know are like me, ideal victims of sexual harassment....We've been told all our lives that male attention is flattering. Nobody ever talked about how humiliating and coercive it can be at times.
Like some women, however, you may decide two can play this game and you may consciously use sex as a strategy to get ahead. You may have found that sexual attractiveness has previously gotten you what you wanted: a marriage, relationships with men outside of work or better working conditions. You may know that in the real world the "casting couch" is not just a figure of speech. Even though these "rules" are not written down anywhere, many women understand and follow them. It takes courage to resist. A filmmaker recalls her responses to a director who suggested a weekend together to "talk about the film":
[To his invitation], I said, I don't know. I don't know. But inside my head was 'I want that job'....I really was considering it. I didn't want to sleep with him, but he was holding it over my head and I was willing right then to sleep with him in order to get the job. I finally came to my senses. He called me back and I said, 'No, I just can't do it.' Of course that was the end of the job.
Like many women, you may have learned to accept men's unwelcome sexual overtures in order to avoid hurting their feelings or triggering their anger. At work, you may follow that pattern and allow a man to control the interactions between you. You feel reluctant to challenge a man because of his power position but his behavior still makes you uneasy. You may see a whole range of sexualized actions as hostile rather than exciting, actions that spoil your work environment.

You Don't Have to Take It!
A Woman's Guide to Confronting Emotional Abuse at Work

pages 45-46

You can control more aspects of your life--including your thoughts and feelings--than you may believe possible. You needn't even learn to "think positively." You can make significant life changes simply by thinking accurately, by putting an end to negative exaggerations and devastating self-criticisms. When you speak truthfully to yourself, you minimize the impact of other people's vilification. When you remove your load of self-criticism, you expand your available energy. Increased vitality opens you to new opportunities, which, combined with rational self-evaluations, set the stage to challenge abuse...

For some women, changing an established pattern of thought requires courage. When you modify long-standing ideas about the world, you risk delving into the unknown. Anxiety about giving up the comfort of familiar habits can stall well-laid plans for improving your life. Change also requires self-discipline. Each person maintains a threshold of fear and obstinate attachments to the pain and stress that feels familiar. People vary in their abilities to follow through on action plans. Some can envision more easily than others the satisfactions possible from new ways of coping. In addition, each person differs in her degree of energy and perseverance in learning new skills.

You Don't Have to Take It!
A Woman's Guide to Confronting Emotional Abuse at Work

page 118

A short, assertive statement that directly follows an offensive act can make a dramatic impact. The immediacy of your reaction offers little opportunity for denial, contradiction of facts or other mental gymnastics that occur when objections come long after offensive behavior takes place. In addition, if you later decide to report what happened, someone in a position of power will probably ask if you objected to the behavior at the time. A few authorities have begun to understand that women--and men too--typically resist objecting to mistreatment on the spot. But many people in power still believe if you didn't protest at the time, then nothing happened. Or what happened didn't matter. If you speak up immediately and record what was done to you, including your response, you increase the odds that a judge, human rights officer or lawyer will take you seriously.

You Don't Have to Take It!
A Woman's Guide to Confronting Emotional Abuse at Work

pages 254

[from the softbound edition]

Read more about this book on the website:
You Don't Have to Take It!
A Woman's Guide to Confronting Emotional Abuse at Work

You Don't Have to Take It! on

You Don't Have to Take It!
A Woman's Guide to Confronting
Emotional Abuse at Work

Ginny NiCarthy, Naomi Gottlieb, Sandra Coffman's book
You Don't Have to Take It!
A Woman's Guide to Confronting Emotional Abuse at Work

may be purchased through

Buy NiCarthy, Gottlieb, Coffman's Book

Other Books by
Ginny NiCarthy

Learn more about these books also written by Ginny NiCarthy:

Getting Free: You Can End Abuse and Take Back Your Life

You Can Be Free: An Easy-To-Read Handbook for Abused Women

Return to Growing beyond Emotional Abuse Books

Design © 2001 by Insight Web Design
All Rights Reserved