Abuse in Yachting: It Still Exists

Abuse in Yachting still exists.

A lot of you are probably reading this and thinking, “I didn’t know it existed in the first place, never mind still“. Abuse exists in many forms and, judging by the amount of calls and emails we get asking if we know someone who can help, it is way too common.

What is abuse?

Good question. This may help some of you to understand what it is and why it is so common. Here are some definitions of abuse.

  • Physical abuse
    • Assault, hitting, punching, making someone purposefully uncomfortable. Bullying.
  • Sexual abuse
    • Sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. Any sexual act that is non consensual.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse
    • Intimidation, coercion, threats of harm or bullying.
  • Financial or material abuse
    • Fraud, scamming, exploitation, preventing access to money.
  • Discriminatory abuse
    • Unequal treatment based on;
    • Race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation.
  • Organisational or institutional abuse
    • Poor leadership, failure to provide care, failure to respond to abuse, failure to respond to complaints.
*all of the above definitions are taken from the Social care institute website. We have only included definitions which can be applied to the yachting industry.

What does this mean?

Before lots of you start contacting us to claim you are being abused please think about your work situation VERYcarefully. We all know how Superyachts work. Lots of you work long hours and, at times have very little sleep. This is not what we mean by abuse. There are also plenty of you who don’t like the Captain or chief Stewardess onboard because they don’t talk to you nicely. This is not abuse either.

The Superyacht industry, as we all know is very different from every other industry in the world. As Crew, you spend long periods of time with no guests on board, followed by relatively brief (in most cases) periods of intense, busy activity. As long as there is a balance this is fine. There are also regulations in place for this such as hours of rest regs etc.

Almost all Superyacht crew fall into the description above. Also, the majority of you are very well looked after. You get paid well, fed, clothed and much more in return for your hard work. Most of you have a good life, and let’s face it you wouldn’t do it otherwise.

OK, so what are we getting at here?

What we are getting at is “actual” abuse in yachting. We at CREWFO hear from a lot of crew as you can imagine. We always say “we are here to help” and expect lots of you to get in touch for advice, a chat or to actually discuss something a bit more serious. Let’s make it clear, we are not qualified counsellors, nor are we in a position where we are able to actually help resolve your issue. But, we are more than happy to listen and talk. Also, if we can point you in the direction of someone who can help we will of course do this.

Some examples:

  • A deckhand who had been physically beaten and knocked unconscious by his captain.
  • A crew member who had been physically and mentally abused/ intimidated by a first officer due to their sexual orientation
  • Stewardesses who have been the subject of attempted sexual abuse by the yacht owner. After reporting it they were told “it’s part of the job” by their Captain.
  • Withholding salary as punishment for poor performance
  • Salary payments months late
  • Non payment of salary for entire periods of employment

These are just a few examples of Abuse in Yachting and none of these should have happened. No matter what the circumstances, there is no excuse for this happening or not being dealt with properly.

What can you do about this?

We take the health, happiness, welfare and financial security of our members very seriously and will do anything to help you. Please continue to contact us with any problems you have, especially during COVID times as we know this is getting a lot of you down too.

A number of years ago we started working with Nautilus International who are the Seafarers’ union. They do amazing things to protect the best interests of Crew all over the world. Having had experience of Nautilus during my time in Yacht management and also during an employment dispute I (Mark, Director and owner of CREWFO) wholeheartedly vouch for them. CREWFO decided to start working with Nautilus more closely back in 2016 and became an official affiliate in 2017. This means that all CREWFO members are entitled to a membership discount with Nautilus.

This is not an advert by the way. We feel very strongly about actual abuse in yachting and would like to see Crew supported through such bad experiences. Also we would like to see those responsible shown justice for their actions.  This cannot happen if people do not report the abuse they suffer.

Don’t waste time

As crew, If you are genuinely suffering abuse at the hands of another crew member, Captain, owner or even manager then please notify someone on board. If they cannot or will not help you must take this further.

To be absolutely clear, please do not waste anyone’s time and energy with a petty dispute on board. A chief engineer who is difficult to get on with or the Captain ignoring you is not abuse. Your salary arriving two days late is not abuse. Working long hours on charter is not abuse (generally) and so please do not call us or Nautilus about this.

We are talking about people who are genuinely suffering here. Racism, Bullying, sexual abuse, withholding pay, etc are all serious matters.  If you are unlucky enough to have found yourself in a situation like this it is time to do or say something.

If you are suffering or have suffered abuse and need someone to talk to, call us. We are happy to listen, even if it is just to make sure you are not over reacting. If you need some support or even legal assistance this is where Nautilus comes in. We will be happy to put you in touch and remember, as a CREWFO member you get a substantial discount off Nautilusmembership.

Don’t suffer in silence. Give us a call. Get in touch here

*originally posted by Crew Family Office*

*please bear in mind that CREWFO is not a professional counselling service. However, we do take the health and welfare of our members very seriously. We are always available to talk and, if you need professional advice relating to any of the issues mentioned in this article we will be more than happy to refer you to someone with the ability to assist further.*

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