Physical assault and verbal abuse within work


I am a professional dancer living and working in Paris for the past 3/4 years but I am originally from the states.

My boss verbally abused me while we were inside the theater that we work at, he screamed at me for what felt like 10-15 minutes calling me disrespectful, untalented, cocky, he told me that I’m not a man, but “just a little fucking boy“. He was screaming and shouting at me and using profanity towards me while some of the girls all witnessed it from their dressing room.

What makes matters worse is that he pulled/yanked me down a few steps by my ear and kept shoving his finger into my chest, but unfortunately by that point the girls had gone to hide in their dressing room because they were genuinely terrified and didn’t want to be involved, but of course they witnessed the screaming from him.

The entire time I did not raise my voice at him once or use any profanity towards him.

I feel like I was truly traumatized. I don’t feel safe or comfortable being able to walk back into that work place environment after being verbally abused and physically assaulted.

So i’m in very serious need of some guidance on how to proceed with this situation? do i go to the police and file a report? nobody saw him put his hands on me, but multiple people heard him screaming away at me and verbally attacking me. is there anything legally I can actually do if nobody saw him actually shoving me with his finger and pulling me by the ear? is this even considered legal physical assault and verbal abuse?

please any help or guidance would be so very much appreciated x


I don’t know what to advise you to do but just wanted to say that I am so very sorry that you had to go through that.

Maybe @vero might have some ideas?


Let me just say that I truly appreciate you taking the time to read this and to respond to it. I am truly in a state of shock and trauma so any support feels really good for me right now.

I am new to this website and I’m not entirely sure how this works but do I need to contact this user that you have tagged directly? or will they have access to this post due to your tag?

Thanks again, I really appreciate it.

I don’t have experience of who you might go to here, but I do know that a good thing to do in these circumstances is to write it all down now in as much detail as you can remember. And ask your colleagues to do the same.

Whatever the next steps are that should be useful. And will also maybe help you process this.

(Vero is tagged)


Hi, I’m Véro - what a horrible thing to happen and unfortunately an illustration of how toxic some arts work environments can be.

I think you need to make a full description of the incident in writing while it is still fresh in your mind, and then deposit a main courante asap at the local police station. It counts as workplace harassment so insist if they try to fob you off. If he does it again there will be evidence it isn’t a one off, easily dismissed incident.

Is there a professional body you can go to?

I don’t think unfortunately that there’s much else you can do, at least for the moment. I hope it actually is a one-off and doesn’t escalate. Bon courage, I’m sorry not to be of more help.


Well to be completely honest, after that situation I no longer feel safe being there nor do i think it would be good for my mental health. So, I have decided that I will be sending an email of my resignation first thing tomorrow morning.

So, it is a one-off because I cannot put myself
in a situation to have to endure that again. So, do to the fact that it’s a one-off, you don’t think the police will do much about it even though he physically grabbed my ear and pulled me and shoved his fingers in my chest?

Again, any advice or suggestions or information I
will be so very grateful for x

No I don’t think the police would count it as assault and would say that as there’s no actual physical damage there’s nothing they can do. Also as a man for something like that they are likely to take you less seriously, they shouldn’t but I bet they would, sexism rearing its ugly head.
Also as you work in the performing arts they’d probably think it was par for the course.

Your boss sounds like a bully, what happens if you shout back? Tell him where to get off very bluntly and loudly and that he can’t pull ears or poke chests? If you’re resigning anyway just tell him what you think of him, if nothing else it’ll make you feel better.


Being abused is horrible, whatever form it takes.

Many years ago, here in France, I suffered ghastly abuse. .
Unlike you, it was thankfully nothing physical, but the verbal abuse and threats left me shaking and shocked.
I didn’t know what to do or how to deal with it… I couldn’t think straight.

Finally, I spoke confidentially with our Maire. He was very kind and listened quietly as I haltingly told him what had happened.

He said that I could either ignore it and wait to see what else happened… or I could go to the Gendarmes and speak with them… preferably with a written account…

I wrote out exactly what had been said (by each of us) as best as I could remember and went to the local Gendarmerie.

Possibly, they could see that I was agitated, because once I had given a brief reason why I was there… someone quickly came and took me to a private room. I handed over the written account… and as far as I recall… they said it would be kept on file in case the situation escalated.

Phew, I felt better once that visit was done and dusted…

It was a few months later, when there was the possibility of the bullying starting again… that I casually threw my visit to the Gendarmes into the conversation.
The bullying never happened again…

@guidanceneeded You must choose how you wish to handle your own situation.
I am sorry for what I know you must be going through… and wish you well in the future.

1 Like

So agree @vero

I do wonder though, given my personal experiences of working in several countries, if there is a difference in the workplace culture ? Especially between, say the UK and France ?

I found the UK work practices to be much more ‘woke’ but France to be much more ‘old style’. Everyone in the UK would scuttle off to HR if you said boo to a goose, whereas in France there could be a slanging match but all forgotten minutes later and everyone just got on with things. That is only based on personal experiences, I am not saying that it is the norm. But it is an interesting question. Is that just part of the cultural divide?

I don’t know…


In France, bullying is (at last) being recognized as totally unacceptable… and this includes everyone!
I note that there is a deal of info on the web nowdays…

Workers are advised to speak with their Manager/someone in authority… to report incidents in the workplace.


My thoughts - do you like your job? Do you need the work to live? If the answer is no, then resigning seems a route to take. However, if the answer is yes, why should you be forced from your employment by a brutish boss? However, sitting in my comfortable seat, it’s easy to say “Fight your corner”.


Sorry to hear that you were the victim of bullying.

Prior to my retirement I was the subject of intense prolonged bullying whilst working at Guys & St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
I took the following actions:

  • reported the issue to HR and my union;
  • has my doctor sign me off work due to stress (9 months off);
  • took personal counselling and kept notes and receipts of all these visits.

It took well over a year, but eventually the bully was forced to resign.


This is dancing and the arts. It’s unfortunately anecdotally very common. Regardless of the law and modern attitudes to how employees should be treated, if you want a career in the business or arts businesses with similar cultures, eg modelling environment can be similar, you are going to come across it relatively frequently.

US style expectations and values are realistically inappropriate here, at least for now…

Personally, outside of work I’d ask colleagues from your work environment about this guy’s track record. Is it just you he treats this way? If it’s just you then you and he are unlikely to get on so if you can’t work out a way to deal with it, from self or colleagues, you’d better leave if your psyche can’t stand up to it. But I bet he has a track record and the whole environment may have.

Practically, Nigel-at-Buf-House seems to have offered the best advice. Do you want to keep working in the business?


I have resigned from working at this theater effective immediately.

Another reason why I feel I must file a police report is because there is no HR for me to communicate with in regards to this situation.

I feel like at least if i report it, something is on file about his behavior, because if this were to happen to someone else and I didn’t report it first then that’s something that I have to be responsible for.


You’re being very brave… but (no matter what) you are not responsible for that person’s future actions…

Although, there’s possibly nothing worse than thinking “if only…” :anguished:

Just do the best you can… then get on with your Life.

Good luck.


That is very much the purpose of deposing a “main courant” at the gendarmerie. No action will be taken, but it stands as proof and can be used in the future.


Yes indeed :slightly_smiling_face: