Signs That Your Employer Is an Abuser 

Abuse is not new among overseas Filipino workers. From the history of “Flor Contemplacion” to the execution of Yakatya Pava and the recent case of Joanna Demafelis, who was put in a freezer, serious cases of abuse by employers have shaped our history and sowed fear among thriving OFWs.

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The government has already taken steps to protect OFWs abroad, including a ban on placing them in countries where foreign workers are poorly regulated. Abuse happens everywhere and can happen to anyone, even if they work outside the home. No employer would be perfect. Even people with excellent values can abuse their leadership power and fall into obscurity. Foreign employers may be more inclined to despise their employees, especially in countries that emphasize slavery or consider foreigners as second-class citizens.

The harm caused to abusive employers includes not only physical injury but also psychological, emotional, and social stress. There are ways to find out if foreign workers and potential OFWs are sent to employers who might intimidate them. Here are ten common indicators of an abusive employer to watch out for before they hit the hell out of you:

  1. Overt and illegal abuse, such as unwanted physical contact or inappropriate comments, is prohibited.

  2. Shouting in front of others or behind closed doors makes you confused and undermines your credibility. They always make you feel that what they are doing is inappropriate, unnecessary or impossible.

  3. They say bad things about people who aren’t there or pat you on the back when you’re not there.

  4. Usually, it’s okay, because they are too strict about the results of their work, but if you think you’ve done everything you can and it’s still not enough, then it’s definitely a sign of mistreatment.

  5. Preventing you from talking to your family and friends, even during breaks, taking your personal cell phones, and forbidding you to go out or speak to anyone, including your colleagues!

  6. They take your passports and visas and keep them in unknown or accessible places.

  7. They monitor your actions at all times and watch you every minute. They control your time, even your rest time.

  8. They ask you to work weekends and often ask you to work overtime.

  9. Stress at work is also a reliable indicator of how abuse can affect your well-being.

  10. They may invade your privacy, spy on your personal conversations, or manipulate your belongings.

While abuses can still be remedied, being friendly to them can reduce the likelihood that they will be disrespectful to you. By showing compassion and empathy, you can reduce the risk of them hurting you. However, you need to be proactive and aware of what can happen if your employer goes too far. Filipino workers working overseas are encouraged to document cases of abuse. Record each meeting on your cell phone or, if it does not work, on your laptop, noting when and where it took place. If possible, you can support this information with a list of witness names.

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Contact your local embassy or the appropriate government agency. Your family members should know your current situation and inform the employment agency. Have important information about who to contact in case of an emergency. If the abuse is already classified as a crime, such as sexual harassment or discrimination, you can seek legal advice from the government to file a complaint. Leaving your job can be the hardest thing to do, given the distance, you will have to travel to get this opportunity abroad. However, abuse should never be tolerated. Don’t put your health and safety at risk just because of a good salary! Your health, both physical and mental is your priority!

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