update: my contact won’t stop pressuring me to volunteer while I’m on medical leave

Remember the letter-writer in May who was being hassled by a fellow volunteer to do more volunteering, despite the fact that she had made it clear she was on medical leave? Here’s the update.

I stepped down from the leadership of the organization, but I’m still technically a member. I made the decision recently to leave the organization entirely because of what happened after stepping down.

When I stepped down, the person I originally wrote in about immediately went out and asked a friend to replace me, and then asked me to provide support and encouragement to her. I agreed, and made some friendly comments of “You’re doing great! Better than I could!” to my replacement. I also removed myself as admin from all social media, and pulled out of their group chats, and to give myself more distance, I pulled out of the Facebook discussion group for members.

About two months after I left, my replacement went on vacation. My pushy colleague then voluntold me that I would be taking over in her absence (about a month) and doing my old job managing social media following my replacements schedule. I tried politely declining, explaining that I no longer had the access required to do the job.

So she restored my access and told me I could do it now. I took myself off again, and this time I told her that I also didn’t have the time to do it. This started an aggravating series of events where I would agree to participate in one way, then when I showed up I would be assigned a completely different role, usually one requiring more effort and work than I had originally agreed to; or I would get an additional role that I hadn’t agreed to. I stopped responding to her on social media and messenger; she escalated to actually calling me. Then when I took some time away from volunteering to spend time with my husband because he took time off from his actual job; she would send mutual friends to reach out to me, asking about my health, and then following up with a request to come back and volunteer. Following us hosting a big event for the city, she tried to take my pay and spend it on the organization. I ended up blocking her entirely after she abused her admin privileges to repeatedly add me back into groups and group chats I would remove myself from – as in, I would remove myself from the group, and by the next week she would just add me back.

What started out as a fun way to hang out with my friends and meet new people has become uncomfortable and stressful. I dread going to meetings and I’m just going to quit altogether and focus on other things. However, the social circle is quite small where we live, to the point where she joined an organization for people of my heritage (Hispanic ) to meet – she is not Hispanic, she is white and native to the country we live in – so now I feel cut off from my culture. She even took over organizing part of our Día de los Muertos celebration, so I declined attending and kept my daughter away from (she once tried to drive off in my car with my daughter in it, so I don’t trust her to be alone with my child).

On a semi-positive note, I got accepted into a masters program in a field of study that I’m very interested in. It’s been rewarding and very challenging but I’m glad to start making connections. However, she became the head of one of the major organizations in the field in town, so I’m looking at other options outside of where I live. But studying keeps me busy (one of the other reasons I had to block her was that she kept messaging me and calling me during midterms).

For now I’m focused on what’s in front of me. I don’t know what will happen next and it’s unavoidable that we will run I to each other again; but we’ll see. I’m positive that I can find something, because I always do!

{ 246 comments… read them below }

    1. HLK1219HLK*

      One of the hardest things I ever had to do was go No Contact (NC) with a person who used to be (in her words) my “best friend.” It took me a long time to figure out that the reason I dreaded her number popping up on the caller ID was because it was like being linked to an emotional vampire. My issues were never important enough – I was whining about “not a big deal” petty complaints while she was suffering agonies that would have made her a martyr/saint in years past. I needed to quit complaining about thyroid cancer because that’s an “easy” cancer, compated to her REAL medical issues (pain from a tummy tuck). I had ridiculous dreams when I was trying to go through IVF – she “knew” any kids I had would be as rotten as hers. My work was a cakewalk because I didn’t have to travel as much as she did. My boss was an angel – she was working for Lucifer & Co. My political views were wrong, she was the only one with an informed opinion. And on and on and on.

      Every time I answered the phone, I ended up spending hours afterward feeling like crap. I tried setting boundaries and I was just being ridiculous and out of line and needed to straighten up. I tried to tell her how I felt and got mocked. I finally went total NC and It. Sucked. I had dozens of emails & calls demanding I call her back, but eventually they tapered off into puzzled hurt messages of how badly this had hurt her and how she had no idea what mental quirk was causing me to be an a-hole to a friend. I told my social network not to forward my info to her, but didn’t do anything else beside not picking up the phone. It’s been 3 years since I last heard anything, and honestly? It feels great. Until I cut the cord, I couldn’t see how heavy her friendship was.

      Long story short, OP you may need to do something similar – go completely NC. You don’t have to explain yourself, although I feel your pain that she’s already taken over groups that were former social/fun outlets for you and your family. However I’m happy you’re finding new groups or support networks. If she tries to butt in, you don’t owe her or others an explanation, you can just tell others you would be more comfortable without her there if they ask, and leave it at that instead of going into details. I found people were more than understanding because they’ve had vampires in their lives too. It doesn’t make you or her a bad person – just incompatible since she discounts, ignores, or directly contradicts everything you need or limit you’ve drawn. I wish you luck although I think it sounds like you’re already a rising phoenix taking off for bigger and better things.

      1. the art of melancholy*

        > I needed to quit complaining about thyroid cancer because that’s an “easy” cancer, compated to her REAL medical issues (pain from a tummy tuck).

        Ugh, irritating. I work with people with disabilities as well as chronic illness, and am part of the disability community myself with several chronic illnesses. I’m not sure if you have experienced the community, but we tend to not compare disability or participate in the “Oppression Olympics” with each other. Why? Because all disabilities/illnesses are different, and each one is totally valid in its own way. I feel like sometimes people who are not coping with disabilities/illness really don’t “get” that.

  1. Hills to Die on*

    “…kept my daughter away from (she once tried to drive off in my car with my daughter in it, so I don’t trust her to be alone with my child).”

    Holy Crap – you don’t need advice, you need a restraining order!! Have you spoken to the Hispanic group you are in and explained what’s going on? Or told the organization you were working with? Or your friends who were letting her contact you through them??

    1. Hills to Die on*

      But regardless, I am glad you are moving forward with your family. I am so sorry this happened to you!

    2. Lance*

      Yeah, most of this behavior is incredibly annoying… but that? Nearly stealing your car, and your daughter with it? This woman is a major problem, and needs to stay far away from you and your family (and your car).

    3. GreyjoyGardens*

      Whoa! I first thought “this woman has no boundaries and is incredibly rude” but then she tried to drive off with your kid in the car? WTF! This woman is coo-coo for cocoa puffs. I second seeing if you can get a restraining order. This is NOT normal behavior.

      1. Difference in kind*

        Fully agreed. This is no longer an organizational behavior issue about someone who “voluntold” you to organize some projects. It has now become stalking and fodder for a restraining order. And people both within the original organization and the Hispanic cultural organization need to know about it.

        1. Nea*

          Can you imagine the legal liability for either group of having a car thief, paycheck thief, and kidnapper actually planning their events?!

        2. Sloan Kittering*

          Yeah at first I thought OP needed to be assertive, but I actually ended up thinking that this woman is unhinged and OP may need take steps to protect herself.

          1. snuck*

            That was where I was at too Sloan Kittering…

            And this is classic narcissistic stuff… sort of gas lighting, sort of ‘it’s such small stuff’ and then slide in something so incomprehensible “she tried to drive off with my kid” and you feel like you are the crazy one (because who does THAT right?)!

            I’m with the others… whether you take out a restraining order or not… time to treat this entire relationship to a solid freeze out. Block, remove, regroup elsewhere. If she follows (like… with the hispanic thing… what IS that? Is she going all Dalziel in some way?!) then… turn to someone who you trust in the circle and say “I’m sorry, I can’t come if she is, it’s a thing, but right now I’m finding it complicated” and if they ask for more just say “It’s really weird, but she shows up at everything I do, and it’s weirding me out, so let’s just catch up you and me, sometime else, less official and more quietly, I like you!” and leave….

            If she reaches out again, pushes into your face/contacts/life again… point blank send her an email saying “Heya Josie, I’m really taking a step back from contact with a few people right now, can you please not contact me again, I’m very busy with other commitments and really havne’t got time to volunteer right now. Thanks for understanding!” and cc someone else from the organisation in, and walk away. If she comes back and bitches you out/tries again/anything follow up with a “I’ve told you I’m not coming back, your continued attempts to involve me are now crossing the line and harrassing, please do not contact me again, or I will take out a restraining order”. And then…d o so.

            But… if she’s going to use ANY motivation to try to get contact and relationship drama going… don’t do that. Just freeze her out. You’ve got her blocked right? Just turn and walk away every . single . time . you see her in public, do not talk, engage etc. Look up how to deal with abusive and narcassistic friends, and apply sunscreen/that at will.

            And it’s fab you’ve got some new clubs… head out, make new circles of friends, and RUN FAR AWAY FROM HER.

    4. The Original K.*

      I said “Wait, what?!” out loud when I read that. In your shoes, OP, I would very strongly consider involving law enforcement and/or asking my lawyer friends for advice.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I can just imagine Alison reading these thinking a combination of everything people here have written, and then thinking, ‘ooh, Wednesday (or whatever day) is going to be so intense! Just wait until they see this!’

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I want to hear how that all went down. I’m presuming it was more like “No, I’ll just go and pick the thing up right now, you don’t even need to unbuckle Baby Snooks, and you can greet the guests” than grabbing the kid, shoving her into the car, and starting things up with purloined keys, but either way it’s a pretty “Holy hell” moment.

    5. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Right?!? If I hadn’t finished my coffee already, I’d have spat it onto my keyboard when I read that. This woman has gone beyond “pushy,” blown past “wildly inappropriate,” and is now deep into “horror movie” territory.

      This is what is known in journalism as “burying the lede.”

    6. Wherehouse Politics*

      Yesterday there was ( understandably) pushback on the “no is a complete sentence “ for advice dealing with a boundary challenged higher up. I think ( especially with the driving off with your child ??!!!?!?! How did that happen? ) a clear resounding “NO.” “I SAID NO!!” “LEAVE ME AND MY FAMILY ALONE” “DO NOT CONTACT ME UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OR I WILL ISSUE A RESTRAINING ORDER.” This isn’t a person you should allow any civil connection with, as she’s brazen and just doesn’t care about your boundaries. Surely you’re not the only one she’s been this violating with. I wouldn’t care about any social or professional awkwardness about being explicit about this. She sure doesn’t.

      1. fposte*

        It didn’t happen. The OP did stop it. So the OP knows what to say to stop things when that’s what’s really important to her.

        She’s decided that it’s overall not worth the stress, though, and that’s fine; she doesn’t need to ride back into the fray with this boundaryless weirdo just because it would be good if somebody shut BW down. She’s not responsible for BW.

          1. fposte*

            Sure, but the OP *did* say no to it. It sounds like you’re saying she should have done something differently, when it sounds like she did what she needed to do.

    7. Karen from Finance*

      Yeah, between that and crashing her Hispanic group when she isn’t even Hispanic, this is definitely stalker territory.

    8. kittymommy*

      Oh yeah, this …would not end well for her (or me). I was watching a friend’s kids one day and took them Christmas shopping (on black friday) one year and someone put themselves between me and one of the kids, I think she was maybe 7 at the time and I d*** near lost my mind, if some chick tried to DRIVE OFF with my (non-existent) child??? I can’t even begin to think what I would do.

      LW, god bless you, you have way more patience than I do with this woman.

    9. Yay commenting on AAM!*

      I…actually think this update also requires a response from Alison regarding the appropriate next steps. This is stalking, and the LW does not seem to be handling it with the severity that it merits to protect her safety.

    10. Anonomo*

      I.. can actually understand LW on this one. My oldest has been almost kidnapped on 3 seperate occasions by 3 completely unrelated boundary-crossing neighbors (different states, all “well meaning” and completely overstepped normal boundaries, all scary as hell and ended any version of niceties between us). In the moment its like “oh well, you meant well and were trying to protect my child but you were also an idiot and Im VERY MAD but.. i guess..” its just overwhelming and you have to decide if you want to make a scene and What If people think youre one of Those Awful Parents and this is somehow your fault as a parent.
      LW I dont know if you’ll see this but I understand how you want to just move past, but with the history you and this woman have I would strongly encourage you to tell everyone. Its not gossip to let people know this is a person who will so grossly ignore you as to remove your child from the place they are supposed to be without your consent, and if nothing else you will have an insulation of understanding community members to protect you from further crazy pants actions.

      1. snuck*

        This could work… there’s several ways this could play out…

        If the OP ignores… the stalker might find someone more interesting to harrass. Usually they’ll up the attention seeking and demands and noise in the short term, until they get no response and might circle back around several times… narcassists usually have many people/pots on the ‘boil’ at a time, working each angle on each one … so freezing out can take the fun out of it for them, but they won’t just disappear, they’ll still be around.

        If the OP goes public, and outs them… then the explosion can really get firey…. the stalker can claim misunderstandings, that they are the victim of a smear campaign, who knows what… the OP can come out looking like the problem instead… and a good narcassist has nothing better to do than get this juuuuuust right. I’d be cautious about this… that doesn’t mean the OP has to remain silent, it means the OP takes their time, finds one or two very well picked people to have her back, and confide in them… and works out what she’ll say to the other people in the circle – a diplomatic version of “I won’t talk to or about that person again because she’s deranged”… whatever that looks like (“Oh StalkerSuzie wanted you to ask about me… yeah, I’m fine, but please, don’t carry messages for her to me, I’m not a fan of that sort of thing it’s very odd behaviour”)

        If the OP goes in a little “Go away, you aren’t welcome here” and then lawyers up/legals… this might work, but it could fuel some of the second option too… proceed with caution, but the OP really should explore options where she is locally around this (because it appears the OP is not in the US, and form her language I’m guessing not in Australia where I am either)…. she might not have a lot of legal protection… if not… then there’s some value still in a neatly starched Lawyer Letter of Scariness that might help…

        And we don’t know much about where the OP is, and why they are there.. it sounds like they are far from home, and not in a large community of people with the same nationality as her – an expatriate somewhere… there’s a lot of dangers in those cultural mish mash ups too… all the more reason for the OP to find two or three very solid, sensible, and safe friends, and retreat a little into those for a while.

        1. Anonomo*

          Even better if those few people witness some of StalkerSuzie (whoever started that is hilarious!) being a nutjob. A quick “Oh jeeze, Stalker just texted me AGAIN. Its the fiftieth this week, see?” or “Ugg Im getting so tired of Stalker adding me to this group, I asked her to stop and she just keeps adding me when I remove myself. Anyway, hows the weather?”

  2. Esme Squalor*

    Oh my God, it just gets worse and worse. You can’t even attend your cultural meetups anymore because she’s invaded that space? She tried to kidnap your daughter??!

    Have you tried speaking to anyone else at any of these orgs about her deeply problematic behavior? Do other people seem to aware that she’s an issue?

    1. Sleepytime Tea*

      Right? I am so confused that so many people appear to be tolerating her behavior and that she keeps getting accepted into leadership positions in all these organizations. She is what I would label as bat shit crazy, and I think that label is legitimate in her case.

      And uh… why is she now a part of a cultural group she doesn’t share the culture with? And why did they allow her? That’s super weird. I mean sure, if someone wants to learn about the culture and that’s the goal of the group, that makes sense, but it’s like me joining a women’s group because I can discuss women’s issues with them and then a man joined. I’m all for dudes getting educated, but not in a group that’s supposed to be a safe haven, right?

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Yes and no… I guess my only experience with cultural groups was at university. All of the cultural groups were open clubs/organizations and I think they should be. I’m pretty sure that this doesn’t apply to Sally Stalker, but would you restrict membership of a group to someone who isn’t that culture/heritage, but may be married to or raising children of that heritage? If you restrict, then do you place limits on the amount of ‘Klingon’ a person has to be to join?

        The OP in this case mentions that the local social scene is pretty small… I don’t think the weird thing is that this person has joined the Hispanic group it’s more that they are once again trying to take over a group.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Also, if Sally Stalker (great name!) is able to put in time / labor for organizing things, they’re going to value her a lot. Sucks, but small towns and orgs often put up with missing stairs for that reason.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, Tania Head fascinates me. Though it sounds like the OP’s nemesis may not be outright lying, just…glomming.

        2. valentine*

          would you restrict membership of a group to someone who isn’t that culture/heritage, but may be married to or raising children of that heritage?
          Yes. The point is to have a safe space that’s just for us, a colonizer-/oppressor-/white-free space. Us-adjacent doesn’t cut it.

          If you restrict, then do you place limits on the amount of ‘Klingon’ a person has to be to join?
          No, but if you are part of a colonizing group and have some vague knowledge that you’re x% Klingon, you can find another way to connect with your Klingon fam, first, before trying to be part of Klingon groups.

          If the group wanted outsiders, they’d use language to that effect. This woman has literally the rest of the world, as well as OP’s world, which she’s taking it bit by bit. She shouldn’t have muscled in on the Hispanic org.

          1. DreamingInPurple*

            I agree with you on the need for oppressor-free space. However, many nonprofit groups are funded under the requirement that membership is open to all, so the organization may or may not have standing to exclude her over not being a part of their cultural group. For example, I am part of an LGBT+ arts organization that is funded by our state government and must allow any prospective members to participate in order to receive that funding. Whether they want outsiders or not, they may not have any say.

            Please don’t characterize Hispanic cultural groups as needing to be “white-free”, though. There are many, many white Hispanic people, and while they are not POC they are still Hispanic and not “Hispanic-adjacent”. Indigenous-only and Afro-Hispanic-only spaces which *are* white-free are also important, but there isn’t an indication in the letter as to whether this group is one of those.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            Yes as I mentioned below, it sounds like she joined the group just to harass OP. I hope OP can let the group leadership know what’s going on and they’ll get rid of the stalker.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    “she once tried to drive off in my car with my daughter in it” WHAAAAT?
    Seriously, reading this was just…wow. What is wrong with this person?!

  4. Cafe au Lait*

    This is now stalking, and I recommended calling the non-emergency police line to find out what you need to do.

    1. blackcat*

      Yeah. And I don’t say this lightly AT ALL but OP, you should start putting a plan in place to move.

      Someone who would TRY TO KIDNAP YOUR CHILD will only escalate. Make sure your child knows to NEVER talk to this person. Teach her to say, loudly, “Get away from me! You’re not allowed to talk to me!” Teach her to make a scene and run if this woman approaches her.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I would absolutely move away, change my numbers, email, everything and make sure that everyone knows not to forward her a single smidge of data about you to Crazy McBananas.

      2. Artemesia*

        ‘Oh you know me, Mommy and I are in the Hispanic Culture Club and she asked me to pick you up.’ Time for code words and all.

        1. snuck*

          There’s good security info coming in here – I like it.

          I’ve taught my kids a couple of code words… and also to shout loudly so all the adults can hear and turn and help you… both good tips.

      3. Trouble*

        If you read the link Alison provided to the last thread, she didn’t try to kidnap the child. They were having trouble getting into a car park and the crazy lady said she’d just move the car for them and hopped in the driver seat. The crazy did try to drive off in the OP’s car with the baby in it but it was not kidnap. Just really frickin inappropriate. The OP’s husband had the keys and the driving off couldn’t have happened. She was undoubtedly trying to ‘take over’ the driving like she takes over everything else but it wasn’t with the intent of running away with OP’s child.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Definitely. My mind almost never goes to stalking when I read letters here, but this really seems like it. That woman is…I don’t even know what to say about her.

    3. Armchair Analyst*

      I agree, and also recommend the book “The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence” is a nonfiction self-help book (Dell Publishing 1997, republished with new epilogue 1998) written by Gavin de Becker. From the wikipedia page for the title: “The book demonstrates how every individual should learn to trust the inherent “gift” of their gut instinct. By learning to recognize various warning signs and precursors to violence, it becomes possible to avoid potential trauma and harm.”

      1. Wehaf*

        OP, I strongly second this recommendation. You may feel like you don’t need to because you think this person is not going to be violent, but the book is not just about violence – it’s about learning how to deal with people who can’t take no for an answer, who escalate their behavior, who become obsessed with you, etc. I think everyone should read this book, but I especially think you should read it, there is a lot in there that will be very helpful to you.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          OP, I third this (though take his attitude towards domestic violence survivors with a grain of salt), and maybe throw in a little ‘Why Does He Do That’ by Lundy Bancroft.

          In your copious grad school free time… /s

          What you describe is NOT normal behavior. I was ‘enh, what a jerk, but she’s a jerk to everyone or just on-line so no big deal’ until:
          1) She joined your local cultural heritage group, despite not having that cultural heritage
          2) She tried to drive away with your kid
          3) She started calling you

          That makes her seem more focused on you, in a scary way. Avoid as much as possible, including reducing your social media exposure to her. If you join anything new, she can’t join if she doesn’t find out about it.

          Best of luck to you, this suuuuuuuuuucks and is totally not your fault and I really really hate abusers. They spoil everything.

          1. Wintermute*

            I always feel that the domestic violence chapter of Gift of Fear needs to be understood in context. The entire central thesis of the book, in many ways, is that it’s better to be alive than to be “right”– that sometimes you might not do something you have every legal right to do, leave a group you’d rather not, not pursue a complaint to your detriment, but that avoiding danger is more important than proving a point.

            The DV chapter says the things it does because it’s calling this out as an exception– that especially if you have children being exposed to violence that look to you for protection, it’s better to save them from the situation even if it places your life in danger, even if you get killed, you have a moral obligation to your children. Since the author is a survivor of childhood abuse, I think it’s a point well-made and well-taken.

            1. Close Bracket*

              You can’t serve your children if you are dead. De Becker is a survivor of abuse from his mother and a survivor of a household where his father abused his mother, but he still got domestic violence wrong. He’s not the only person who watched abuse and still got it wrong. Just talk to my sisters.

    4. Sloan Kittering*

      Apparently it’s not uncommon for stalking to arise outside of a romantic relationship, which is the context where I’ve always heard of it before. But I was just hearing it’s not uncommon when any party feels injured (so yes a breakup, but also anything when a person feels “wronged” in any context) as is perhaps the case here. I say this because it may be helpful for OP to put the framing “this person is stalking me” around this story.

      1. Close Bracket*

        > But I was just hearing it’s not uncommon when any party feels injured

        Not just then, either. If a person perceives themselves to have a relationship with you, they can become a stalker. It’s a particular risk for people like news casters, but can happen to people in customer facing positions. Stalking has a lot of variations, each with it’s particulars.

      2. snuck*

        Pffft… I had to have a break up conversation with a single white female once…

        It was rather awkward because we had never dated :P

        It does happen, it’s very gas light-y weird to find yourself in that situation, and of course they get to be all righteous and indignant because they never dated you so how can you get it so wrong and dump them???!

        But you know… sometimes.. it can happen…

        (This person would sit herself between me and whomever I was dating, invite herself around and deliberately miss the last bus so she could spend the night, then use my bathroom and wardrobe like it was her own, when I was using it! We weren’t 20yr old uni kids sharing rooms, we were grown arse adults with careers! It was intense, weird, and creepy… And when I ‘broke’ up with her she was furious with me, it was WAY disproportionate to the supposed ‘friendship’.)

  5. Lena Clare*

    She tried to drive off in your car… with your child in the back?!

    Oh. My. God. There is something wrong with her.

    Congrats on the masters!

  6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Oh my good lord! That’s insane, OP — no wonder you stepped back, this person sounds like they are completely over the edge.

    Does the org have any higher leadership structure you can reach out to? Obviously if you’d rather just close the book on this whole situation I wouldn’t blame you one little bit, but it might be doing the org a favor to let them know how absolutely out of control this volunteer is.

    1. Observer*

      Completely this. This woman is totally off the rails, and in the US there would be a good chance that they could be liable for any harm that she does.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      Agreed! She’s basically turned into a stalker. Whoever is in charge of her needs ot get her under control.

      Also, for the other groups she is popping up in – like your cultural group – I would also talk to soeone higher up there too, and just let them know that she has been harassing you really heavily because you left another group she is in and you’d rather not interact with her much here – like if she’s volunteering, she’s not the volunteer that contacts you, or has access to your phone number or personal information.

      Also if you haven’t explicitly told her you do NOT want her contacting you in any way, please do the next time she reaches out.

  7. Adlib*

    At this point, a harshly-worded rant in her direction would not be out of line. I’m so sorry this person seems to invade every part of your sphere, OP. As stated above, see if you can alert others and maybe somehow push back on her. However, it seems like that wouldn’t even deter her.

    1. 653-CXK*

      “Dear [Off the Rails Psycho Volunteer]:
      This is to notify you that I am severing any and all contact with you about my volunteering. You are forbidden to call, email, or visit my house. You may not add me to internet groups. You are not to contact any of my friends, nor have any contact with my family. All attempts to do so will be documented and forwarded to local authorities, and if necessary, I will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law if this is violated.”

      I don’t know if that’s too harsh or not harsh enough, but if this doesn’t deter her, I would get in contact with the police ASAP. From what I’m reading, she’s wildly irrational at best, unhinged and dangerous at worst.

      1. irene adler*

        I don’t think one needs to worry about “too harsh” with this woman. She lacks boundaries.

        I also don’t think this woman would take such a note seriously (“Local authorities? Prosecute? Ridiculous! I’ve done nothing wrong-certainly nothing remotely illegal!”). She probably views her various actions as ways to assure that the OP feels included in the organization.

        Thinking you are correct re: alerting the local police.

      2. LadyPhoenix*

        I would give this to the Organization too. Inform then the massive boundaries this woman has overstepped.

      3. Bea*

        Not too harsh.

        I want to go protect the OP myself. I’ll show her harsh with a tirade of profanity. You’re gonna be nuts? I’ll double crazy on her…

        I come from a rough background tho. Don’t mind me, I’m over here taking my earrings off…

        1. Amanda Boland*

          LOL at the earrings comment, Bea. I’ve done that when a stalker showed up at an event I was at.

          OP, I gasped out loud – several times – reading your updates. As an officer of several charities relying on volunteers, I would *absolutely* want to know about this kind of behaviour, whether by volunteers or staff. I don’t think you’ve mentioned where you’re located other than Europe, but in Australia something like this would fall under Work Health and Safety legislation (even for volunteers) for which directors and officers have legal obligations and liabilities.

          Much luck and a good outcome to you.

      4. 653-CXK*

        After reading OP’s update-of-the-update, I have to change the title a little bit…

        “Dear [Overzealous Zealot]:
        This is to notify you that I am severing any and all contact with you about my volunteering. I am cutting off all communication and contact via phone and email. I have instructed my friends and my family to have no contact with you. All attempts to do so will be documented and forwarded to local authorities, and if necessary, I will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law if this is violated.”

        I would still get in contact with the police if she isn’t detered. There’s enthusiastic while respecting boundaries, and there’s full-out blind zealot who will do anything to keep you in her fold.

    2. Coder von Frankenstein*

      A restraining order would not be out of line. She tried to kidnap OP’s daughter and steal her car.

      1. Nea*

        And steal her paycheck. It’s not as horrific as the car and the child, but it’s still an attempted crime.

  8. Observer*

    OP, if you have not done this yet, please have a VERY clear conversation with the higher ups at the parent organization followed by an unambiguous email laying out what you just wrote here.

    1. She repeatedly tried to push you into doing things that you told her were not negotiable.
    2. She repeatedly lied to you.
    3. She tried to steal your money – how did she even have the ability to try that?!
    4. The tried to take your take your car with your daughter in it! That’s attempted kidnapping, but I wouldn’t use the term to avoid having to argue with some idiot about being “overly dramatic” or “too intense”. Just lay out the fact – it speaks for itself.

    This woman is a major liability to the organization – they would honestly be better off allowing the chapter to close than to leave her with that level of control as she’s a total loose cannon.

        1. Observer*

          It’s still theft. The fact that it was on behalf of the organization doesn’t matter. Robin Hood is not a thing.

      1. Hey Nonnie*

        I would bring it up to leadership at the professional and Hispanic cultural groups too, and mention that her previous behavior chased volunteers away from the other organization, and her current behavior is chasing you away from theirs.

        Whatever else they may put up with “because we need volunteers!”, knowing that stalker-lady is actively driving people away from organizations should light a fire under them, because they can’t exist without a solid membership.

    1. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      I agree totally. She’s harassing people and driving away volunteers and members with this absolutely ludicrous behaviour.
      Best of luck to you with your Master’s program (and sane life without this nutter)!

    2. Observer*

      I read your update. So, technically not kidnapping. But still soo over the line that as another person posted, it’s a faaar away spec.

    3. Auntie Social*

      You need to do this through a lawyer, and communicate to Sally through the lawyer as well. The board needs to know that she’s crazy and a possible liability.

  9. CAcats*

    This goes beyond annoying and pushy to seem like harassment and stalking. This follow up really disturbs me. I don’t know what you should do so I don’t have any advice, only that this seems really awful.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I mean, at some point you could probably pursue a restraining order or civil protection order against someone who refused to stop contacting you and kept showing up in new places to harass you.

  10. else*

    She is a STALKER. What a creepy, horrible, stressful situation! I agree – you need to let your former (and I think it should STAY former) organization know about this, but make sure you stay safe. Keep her as blocked away as you can. Maybe let the school know that she is not to ever have access to your child, just in case.

  11. LadyByTheLake*

    This person is not a pushy contact, she is a stalker. Take appropriate steps to protect yourself and your family.

  12. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

    Yeah, I’d drop a quick note to the leaders of your Hispanic group neutrally outlining your experience with her and how she interacts with the groups she’s involved in, if you still want to participate in that group. If they haven’t seen the crazy bits yet, I’m sure it won’t be too long.

    Otherwise if you see her again out in the wild, stop being nice and tell her to buzz off and that she has crossed so many lines that there’s no contact between the two of you anymore. This is obviously not a person who understands normal social interactions and boundaries (I won’t even comment on the car/child thing… because holy buckets there has to be a story there).

    As for the other organization that she is heading, I wasn’t sure if that was related to your new field of study (Go you, btw!). That one may be a lost cause for now… surely she’ll alienate the members soon enough and run it into the ground. After that it may be safe to get involved in.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Definitely! You don’t want someone else to have to go through this once she figures out that she isn’t getting anywhere with you.

      One can only hope people would be alienated by this, but look how long she was in the original volunteer organization, and how deeply she is involved. It sounds like people may not be aware of how bad this is.

      OP, I am already hoping for ANOTHER update! Good luck!

    2. Bulbasaur*

      Agreed. I think it’s time to look for allies. It is almost certainly not just you having this experience with her. There is strength in numbers.

  13. Observer*

    By the way, is the organization for Hispanic people the same organization you were volunteering with? If not, can you talk to the leadership at this org and explain your history? Between the fact that she is NOT part of the target demographic and you are AND the fact that she’s a lunatic, perhaps they’ll do something.

  14. Det. Charles Boyle*

    I don’t understand how she tried to take your pay. I thought you were a volunteer in this organization? How would she have access to your money? At any rate, I hope you can disentangle yourself from this person soon.

    1. cheeky*

      I have the same question. Is this a volunteer gig or a paying gig? How could she have access to your pay?

    2. Lucille2*

      I read that as reimbursement for the event she and her husband hosted. If that is the case, and this person was designated to reimburse funds to the OP and neglected to do so, the organization needs to be aware of this.

      1. Antilles*

        That was my understanding too. They hosted an event and were supposed to be paid for their time/effort in hosting, so this person tried to go “surely you would have wanted to donate this money back to us anyways, so I’m just going to keep it and not pay you.”

    3. Anonymous Penguin*

      I thought perhaps a “I already told everyone at Volunteer Org that of course you were donating the money from hosting Event X, so please go ahead and send it in! You know how much we need it!

    4. SignalLost*

      I think that refers to the gift card mentioned in the comment now posted at the top of the thread by Alison. It was 2 $100 gift cards given by the city for their work on an event and the covolunteer tried to talk the city out of giving them the gift cards, then took both when she couldn’t.

  15. Four lights*

    Holy guacamole, this person is nuts! Please protect yourself and your family. Don’t be afraid to tell people about how bad she is. Feel free to use the words “harassment” and “stalking.” “I actually don’t socialize with her anymore; when we volunteered for the same organization she was constantly harassing me about volunteering more.” “I actually don’t feel comfortable around her anymore. She once tried to drive off in my car with my daughter in it.”

    If you haven’t already, please tell your story to a few close, trusted friends in your social circle who can support you when you’re around this woman. Also, if she’s this bad, hopefully other people will start to notice soon.

  16. automaticdoor*

    Wowwwwww. I certainly second/etc. all the advice about talking to the higher-ups in the organizations, both the original one and the Hispanic one. This woman is … off.

  17. Dr. Pepper*

    Has anyone told her to fuck off? And if not, why not?! She sounds like someone who *has to be involved* in everything she encounters, and I’m guessing she Means Well, but is such a pushy busybody that she ends up ruining everything and pushing everyone away from her. You can’t be the only person suffering from her ridiculous (and scary) actions. I really feel for you having to deal with someone like that.

    1. EPLawyer*

      I kinda like this direct approach. If she contacts you again just say “F Off.” You are past trying to be polite and soften things with this woman. Encourage your friends that if contacted by her to get in contact with you tell them 1) we are not in middle school anymore and 2) tell the woman to F Off.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        Then she might go around saying, “OP told me to f off! OP is a jerk! OP is crazy!” etc.
        Maybe tell her to f off politely… “thanks for your interest. Please don’t ever contact me again. If you do, I will be in touch with leadership/police/lawyer. Thank you.”

    2. BRR*

      I was wondering if I was missing something but I don’t think I saw anything about directly telling this person to f off (or a more polite version of that if that’s your style).

    3. Peachkins*

      I’m wondering this myself. I’ve seen nothing to indicate that the OP has been that direct with this woman outside of blocking her on social media (a good idea, but apparently not enough). OP has been way too polite. I’d be flat out telling this woman that she needs to stop attempting to contact me and threaten her with a restraining order if necessary.

  18. Denise*

    She sounds crazy … Sever all ties … Contact authorities… Make people around you aware of Whats going on…

  19. Flash Bristow*

    Oh my! She is ridiculous! It’s a shame she doesn’t meet the criteria for a restraining order (though I wonder if a lawyer could write an official sounding letter asking her to avoid contact?)

    I’d actually document this stuff and look into the legal definition of harassment.

    Failing which, can the Hispanic group sort of ignore her? Surely she’ll annoy others when they realise she isn’t being helpful so much as inserting herself where she isn’t welcome and trying to dictate what other people do?

    Wow. I love your optimism that you’ll find something – and I truly hope you do fall on your feet.

  20. Rectilinear Propagation*

    …she would send mutual friends to reach out to me, asking about my health, and then following up with a request to come back and volunteer.

    Please, please let anyone you consider a friend know that they absolutely cannot do this and remain your friend. They absolutely cannot and should not be aiding her in harassing you.

    This woman seems to think that she owns you: taking your money, your car, even your kid! But refuses to take no for an answer. I agree with the earlier comments to both go to the police and give the Hispanic organization a head’s up.

    And if you plan on moving soon to find work in your new field, do not share that publicly. No social media discussion about it and no telling mutual friends. Use this opportunity to essentially disappear from this woman.

  21. LadyPhoenix*


    I don’t think you have an admin problem. I think you have a stalking problem! What the flying mother feathering fudge?!

    Me thinks you need some protection. Talk to the authorities [and possibly a lawyer] about the steps to take.

    Cause she almost stole your car [and your daughter?!?!?!?!?!?!?] and she tried to steal your money too.

  22. Nea*

    Wait, wait, wait – in ADDITION to harassing you while you were sick, she tried to steal your car, she tried to kidnap your daughter, and she tried to steal your paycheck? PLUS she has joined a cultural group she has no relationship to and suddenly “became the head” of the major organization of the new career path you’re considering?

    She’s a stalker. It’s long past time to talk to the law – and to let both the group you both were part of and the Hispanic group of exactly the details of the actual crimes she has tried to commit. This isn’t just personal – I doubt the Hispanic group really wants the legal liability of a thief and kidnapper planning their events!

  23. Cassandra*

    OP, congratulations on acceptance into your master’s program!

    One thing you may want to do is acquaint someone working in that program with the situation. (Who exactly — that’ll depend on how the department is structured. If you have an assigned advisor, that’s a good place to start. If there’s a designated student-services person in the department, likewise. Otherwise, call the department’s main number and say that you have a confidential security situation you need to address, and who should you talk to about it?) This is especially urgent if the institution is in the same place you currently live, but even if it’s not (you’re moving or you’re in an online program), you need them to know not to give this person any information whatever about you.

    There are likely to be procedures in place for this — at the institution level, if not necessarily in your department. You won’t be the first person something like this has happened to. (Some of the things I’ve been on the edges of, just UGH, human beings can be utterly beyond-the-pale awful.) Good luck, and I’ll keep an eye on this thread in case you have questions.

    1. Adlib*

      Excellent advice. We had a coworker who had an unhinged ex-b/f showing up outside our office, leaving her notes and other things, that no one was aware of until her truck got keyed. We upped security quite a bit after that. Don’t be afraid to tell someone! I wouldn’t put it past this woman to track you down.

  24. Close Bracket*

    Wow. I’m sorry for all this, must especially for having to distance yourself from heritage events. I hope the Master’s program works out well for you.

  25. Bea*

    This insufferable woman is so attention hungry I’m uncomfortable just reading about your torment.

    I’m glad you’re focused on school now and pray her spaceship comes back for her soon to make it impossible for you to have to deal with her ever again. It’s like if we didn’t graduate high school and our bullies just followed us around every frigging moment.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I love the spaceship comment – kinda makes me want to create cards you can give to someone, along the lines of “get well soon” cards but something you give someone who’s driving you nuts instead, “I hope your spaceship comes back for you and takes you back to your home planet soon!”

  26. I Work on a Hellmouth*



    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, and the stress that goes along with it. I agree with the prior commenters, it sounds like this woman is stalking you. I also agree, if you haven’t already you should outline all of this to the higher ups at your original volunteer organization and also to the people in power positions at the other two organizations that you mentioned. And give her picture to your kid’s school. And maybe look into a restraining order. Just… yikes.

  27. notjustalatte*

    The following comment isn’t about the person harrassing the OP specifically – but more of a general note.

    I am half hispanic, but look extremely white. Despite my father having dark brown skin with black curly hair – I completely got my mother’s white skin and pin – straight fine thin hair (I do have dark brown hair though). Once I got married and changed my last name – I cannot tell you how many people have been surprised to learn that I’m hispanic (A comment I got last week was: “My jaw dropped when you told me you were hispanic”).

    Also I know someone who is the head of a hispanic club that gets whispered about for being white and running it. I’m not sure if he’s aware of the talk or not – but I personally know he actually is hispanic, he just happened to end up looking white.

    You just can’t assume if someone is hispanic or not based off their looks or last name. But because of people’s shock, whispering and assumptions I myself have been afraid of joining a hispanic club.

    Again – the person the OP is referring to has serious problems in general (whether or whether not she is actually hispanic).

    1. LadyPhoenix*

      I have a friend just like you. She actually looks a like like her dad (minus his mustache, of course)… but is blonde and ghostly pale.

      People are surprised when she tells them.

    2. Ali G*

      OP says she is not Hispanic: “…she joined an organization for people of my heritage (Hispanic ) to meet – she is not Hispanic, she is white and native to the country we live in…”

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I took this to mean that people in the Hispanic organization wouldn’t assume that she is non-Hispanic, but would assume that she is a fair Hispanic person.

    3. Myrin*

      This is a good point in general, but in this particular case, the co-volunteer is involving herself in OP’s life to such a degree that the OP probably knows that she isn’t hispanic.

    4. WellRed*

      I once had a lovely roommate who was very fair, freckled etc, who was Mexican. Actual Mexican citizen, not Mexican descent. Another roommate’s boyfriend kept insisting she couldn’t be Mexican because of the way she looked. Despite, you know, her accent, her command of Spanish, etc. It was so cringeworthy. I don’t think he last very long.

    5. Gen*

      I’m curious because this seems to be happening in Europe, I have several Spanish and Spanish-heritage acquaintances who use the term Hispanic for themselves even though it usually means people from Spanish speaking parts of the Americas. And they’re all white, most have never left Europe.

      1. spiderwoman*

        Hispanic is the applicable term for anyone from a Spanish-speaking country. This is why some, not all, people tend to prefer using Latino/Latina/Latinx as it is more applicable to Latin countries, especially as Brazil is not a Spanish-speaking country and using Hispanic can leave them out. Therefore, Spanish people are both Hispanic and European.

        1. Close Bracket*

          The term Hispanic has been widely adopted to mean anyone Spanish speaking, but technically it actually means people with heritage from the Iberian peninsula, so Spain and Portugal. Brazilians with Portuguese heritage would be Hispanic, technically. Mexicans of non-European descent would not be Hispanic, technically.

    6. Agglutination*

      Hi! I am also mixed and white passing. I absolutely get what you mean by people getting confused. My daughter is very, very blonde and people are always shocked that she is my daughter (since I have dark hair).

      This woman is not Hispanic at all. She was born in this country, she grew up in this country, she is very much a white native of this country. As an adult she moved to Spanish speaking countries and learned Spanish, and that is how she is part of this Hispanic organisation.

    7. Aleta*

      Bolivian-American here. I’ll use Hispanic throughout here since that’s what OP used.

      Hispanic also encompasses a lot of white people. Not just white-passing: but actually white. It just means “people who come from countries where people speak Spanish” and there’s, y’know, the white Spaniards. Even if we’re talking about Latin America specifically, that’s also just “people who are from Latin America,” and there’s pleeeenty of criollos (descendants of Spaniards who didn’t intermarry) still living in Latin America.

      Really, OP would probably know if the person is really is Hispanic, because that would probably come up at some point if they had shared heritage. Even if the person is actually Hispanic, it also sounds like this is specifically a PoC Hispanic group even if that’s not in the mission statement, and it’s not strange or unreasonable to feel invaded if a white or white-passing Hispanic person showed up and took over, even if in name they have a right to be there. It repeats the same power dynamic in our home countries. Being a white or white passing Hispanic person in Latin America carries the same type of privilege it does elsewhere. Colorism is absolutely a huge problem in Hispanic communities, both diasporic and otherwise. Trying to marry white or pale in the hopes your kids will be more white passing than you are is a thing – it’s called mejorar la raza: “improving the race.” I’m mixed race, and in the US, I can pass for white in the dead of winter if people aren’t familiar with what indigenous or mixed South Americans look like, but absolutely cannot ever in the summer. There are WORLDS of difference in how I’m treated.

      This was more a general PSA prompted by what you said, but specifically notjustalatte, it sounds like Hispanic groups in your area also lean strongly PoC. I’d encourage you to look for resources for white-passing PoC in PoC spaces, and specifically reaching out to leaders in groups in your area with how best to get involved and what expectations they would have. The main PoC group I’m involved in specifically affirms the right of white-passing PoC to be members, because race and our relationship with race is complicated, but we also expect our white-passing members to use their privilege to stand up for and back up the rest of us.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        Thanks! I just learned a lot about my favorite culture, Latinos. It sucks that color is such a big deal. I’ve read of similar attitudes in the African-American community.
        I hope one day society will get past all this. There are many wonderful brown Latinos in my circle of friends and I love them dearly. <3

  28. Ali G*

    This makes me irate! This woman hijacked your life and you had to remove yourself from engaging in your own heritage!!! She is the one that needs to be ostracized (and possibly more).
    I hope you can successfully disentangle from this woman. I echo the comments above about reaching out to friends about her and also people in the volunteer organization.

  29. Agglutination*

    Hi! It’s me, the letter writer. I just got out of my last meeting with them and I’m trying to write this on my way home. If there’s mistakes or I miss anything I’ll try and clear it up when I get home.

    First off, she did not try to kidnap my daughter. Another poster read the situation right – I was delivering something to an event and my husband was driving us. We live in an old European city so the entry to the parking area was too narrow for him to comfortably pull in. I went to get her to get help carrying the delivery and when we got to the car she said ‘I’ll just drive you through’ and got in the drivers side. My daughter was strapped in her car seat in the back (she even turned to my daughter and said hello to her). My husband thankfully had the key in his hand so she couldn’t go anywhere but it was a really baffling situation to be in. My husband has not allowed her anywhere near us since then. It was bizarre but not malicious.

    Secondly the payment – it wasn’t really a paycheck. Our organization was invited to help host a big city event, and as a thank you the city gave us gift cards equal to about $100 US. She took both her card and my card from the city. This was after she tried to decline us both getting gift cards at all. I’m a student and $100 goes a long way in grocery money.

    On to the update to the update.

    She wrote me this week and asked me to take on more responsibility for the organization again (asking me to mentor new members). I declined because the masters program has kept me very busy and I told her I would likely be stopping in the near future. I agreed to come to one more meeting to say goodbye, but with the warning that I would be working on a big project for my exams, before and after the meeting.

    She didn’t bring a laptop for the PowerPoint and told the presenter that he could use mine. She then brought the presenter over and informed me they needed my laptop. I told her no, because it’s my personal property and I didn’t bring it for that purpose. Then she tried going out and commandeering a strangers (not at all connected to us). She finally got hold of an organizational laptop and tried to force me to make it work, delaying the meeting to do so.

    I’m almost home so I’ll reply more later!

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Thanks for the additional information. Yeah, this is one of those people who can never be given an inch. Great job setting and maintaining the boundary with the laptop and not helping. Seriously, keep that up with any interaction you have with her and don’t feel like you have to cave to her unrealistic expectations and demands.

      1. Agglutination*

        Thanks! A lot of the comments on the last letter really drove that home. She’s absolutely one of those people who won’t take no for an answer and it drives me bonkers. But I’m done with her for now and I have a whole lot ahead of me!

      2. Kes*

        Agreed. I really think you need to hold a hard line with her. Don’t give her an inch; she’ll take a mile. Don’t make excuses that you can’t do x because of y – just say, straight up, that you will not be able to contribute in any way going forward. She’s ignoring your ‘no’s with soft language or reasoning, so avoid using softening – any time she tries to contact you or ask you to do things, you need to say no and hold to it.

        I would also show some of your frustration with her to your friends – tell them how she’s been harassing you and ask them not to pass on any messages from her.

        I wouldn’t let her drive you away from your own activities you were already involved in (aside from the original organization you were both in) – if she shows up at your hispanic group, ignore her and if she tries to ask you to do things, just say no straight up.

        1. Kitrona*

          Reasons are for reasonable people, as Captain Awkward always says, and this lady clearly isn’t reasonable! (Not OP, OP sounds perfectly reasonable.)

    2. Hills to Die on*

      Well, that definitely clears up a few things. If you wouldn’t mind, I am still wondering if you have told your friends, anyone at the Hispanic organization, or anyone at the original organization about her behavior. It is still entirely unacceptable. Thank you!

      1. Hills to Die on*

        also – she tried to get a random person’s laptop?? Wow–the unending nerve of this person!!

        1. Jadelyn*

          Right? Can you imagine being that person? Some rando walks up “Hey, I need your laptop, let me just borrow this for a sec, I’ll bring it back after the meeting!” Like, I need it too, and it’s MY laptop, so heck off.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Many groups like this (at least, in the US) tend to be open to anyone who wants to know more about a culture. It’s pushy for a person who’s not a member of the culture to be in a leadership position, but it happens.

        2. Agglutination*

          It is a network for Spanish speakers and she’s lived as an expat in Spanish countries and is fluent in Spanish.

          1. Public Sector Manager*

            Agglutination, thank you for all your updates!

            On the issue of your network for Spanish speakers, you mentioned before that she is Caucasian and native born to your current country. I’d focus more on the purpose of the group and not so much on this person’s ethnicity. I’m definitely not condoning this person’s actions, but it may help frame your approach to the group should you decide to bring it up.

            I say this because my good friend’s mother-in-law is Caucasian. She was born in Mexico City. Her grandparents emigrated from Europe to Mexico. Her parents are both of European decent, but both were born in Mexico, lived in Mexico for years, and came to the United States when my friend’s mother-in-law was about 6 or 7. She spoke Spanish as her primary language growing up with English as a second language. And her chilaquiles are amazing!! I’ve known her since I was 18 and she’s just a wonderful woman. However, despite being Caucasian, she very much identifies as a Latina and always considers Mexico her home. I would hazard a guess that she would qualify for your group.

            So turning to your group, if the purpose of the group is just to get together and speak in your native tongue, this person would qualify and I’d just focus on her overreaching and not her ethnicity. But if the purpose of the group is really for expats and not those native born, then that’s a more compelling approach (along with the overreaching by her, of course).

            Regardless, I think you’ve handled this amazingly well and I wish you nothing but the best for you and your family and your studies.

            1. Karen from Finance*

              > However, despite being Caucasian, she very much identifies as a Latina

              I’d like to step in here and mention that a LOT of Latinxs are white in terms of skin color. I myself I’m a white Latin American and we’re actually in the majority in my country specifically. So it’s not so much an exception. Think of it this way: we were colonized by people from Spain and Portugal. Then we received waves of immigration from other countries such as Italy. Those are European countries, people there are Caucasian. It’s really not that rare to see a Caucasian Latina. Just wanted to clear that up.

              Hispanic includes Spain while Latina does not and therefore there is no presumption of non-whiteness.

              I think that OP’s point was wider, about this woman not being of Hispanic *descent* at all, while I do understand how by knowing the language and the culture she would have a right to be there.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            Is the fact that she joined this group you were a part of completely a coincidence? Is she pushy like this with everyone, or does she mostly target you? All this overlap with her seems kind of creepy at first read, but if you were saying that there aren’t a lot of opportunities to socialize and that’s why you guys just happen to be involved in so many of the same things then I guess it’s not creepy but just really annoying and frustrating.

        3. DreamingInPurple*

          If this group is a non-profit, their funding may be contingent on allowing any interested member to join. For example, the LGBT+ arts group I work with receives funding from our state, and a condition of that funding is that any member who abides by our member handbook must be allowed to join.

          1. Karen from Finance*

            I suppose that for a LGBT+ group gatekeeping membership would be more difficult anyway. I can see how some people would want to be a part of the community without having to out themselves in the process.

      2. Agglutination*

        I have not gotten around to talking with anyone about this. After a lot of the responses to this post (and what happened tonight) I will be considering what I want to say to them and how to say it because this is just… wild.

        We got new leadership with the local organisation so I’ll probably just bring it up with them and let them handle things how they will.

        1. Hey Nonnie*

          Regardless of whether what she tried to take from you was cash money, a paycheck, a fruit basket, or a gift card, trying to take what was given TO YOU without your permission is still attempted theft, and therefore still a crime.

          I get if you don’t want to take it as far as reporting it to the police just yet, but be very clear that this isn’t just flouting personal boundaries anymore, but legal ones as well.

          In addition to discussing her with the leadership of the organizations you have and/or want to participate in, I would also tell her, directly and in so many words, that she does not have your permission to contact you or your family for any reason ever again. Not by email, not by phone, not by recruiting other people into middle-school games of passing notes, and sure as hell not by showing up at your home. There will be other ways of getting information from the groups you want to participate in.

          Then block her on social media, screen your phone calls, don’t read her emails (and maybe put them in a separate folder you don’t look at in case you need evidence later). If she shows up on your doorstep, don’t open the door, and if she doesn’t leave you can have the police remove her for trespassing. If she approaches you at an event, say very loudly “I told you to leave me alone!” I know a lot of people worry about “causing a scene,” but remember that you didn’t cause it — she did. And a public shaming might be a consequence that gets through to her, since nothing else has. You’ll also be reinforcing her behavior for the other people in the group, and making it impossible for them to not notice it.

    3. Myrin*

      This is honestly the most bizarre human being I’ve heard about in the last year or so. Not the most evil or exhausting, but certainly the strangest; it’s like she’s new to this plane of existence or something.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        I mentioned it below… but I’m getting a better sense of Sally Stalker… I probably ought to change the name to Zelda Zealot, this is less stalker and more about the volunteer groups.

        I suspect Zelda’s one of those people who pour their life and soul into the volunteer gigs, and expects everyone around to match the dedication and effort. So this is less about the OP (as in, there’s not a specific draw to the OP) and more about the volunteer organization.

        Stalkers get fixated on a person… I think Zelda doesn’t care about the individual, she only cares about what the individual should be doing for the group.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          ETA… it also changes my advice a bit. OP you need to go dark for a little while. I think once you do Zelda Zealot will find other targets. She’ll write you off as “Not Dedicated Enough” and “Unreliable”. It will suck for the new person, but will make your life better.

          1. Agglutination*

            This is what I expect to happen too. She’s very zealous and it’s uncomfortable to say the least.

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          Agreed, she sounds like a zealot, and might be making other people’s lives hell as well, I suspect.

            1. Yay commenting on AAM!*

              Missing stair reminds me of my dad. Not that he is a missing stair, but that rather than repair things correctly, he just learns the “quirk” of how to work around it.

              Now that I don’t live at home, every time I visit I need an orientation to use ordinary household items that sort of work, but not in the way they should. Toilets, showers, paper towel holders, basement doors, car handles, on and on and on…

          1. Artemesia*

            I agree; less a stalker, more a zealot. Let’s hope for the OP’s sake. I have encountered people like this in animal rescue groups and ended up not taking their animals as a result. Every encounter about adoption was weirdly adversarial. I have a friend who is very enthusiastic, even zealous, about a local charity that does fabulous work. She aggressively recruits — she doesn’t stalk you if you say ‘no’. This person you are dealing with is dialed up to 11.

        3. Twenty Points for the Copier*

          Yes, this additional info makes me much less worried on behalf of the LW that someone is targeting her in a malicious and creepy way. The fact that she seems to have zero boundaries with ANYONE doesn’t make her inability to take no for an answer any better, but it makes it much less terrifying.

        4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          I feel this, completely. Like the letter earlier today about the “worrier” and the interviewer who called people pricks. These are people that most of us have encountered. This woman is a country unto herself. She is a zealot. Dictionary definition. She is going to save/unite/state mission here these Hispanic people if she has to destroy the organization and six organizations that look just like it to do it.

      2. Agglutination*

        She reminds me a lot of someone who was abusive towards me as a child. I don’t have a very good sense of what ‘normal’ behavior is because of that person and this is probably why I needed advice on how to handle her.

        1. Jadelyn*

          That’s a rough situation to be in – sorry to hear that, I know from experience how skewed your own norms can get. Hopefully some outside calibration has made it clear that what this woman is doing is not at all normal, not at all okay, and you absolutely do not have to put up with that and are justified in doing whatever you have to in order to get away from this crap.

        2. fposte*

          Honestly, I think you’re making all the right moves. It took you a little bit, but it really can take a while, no matter your experience, to really accept that somebody’s being as out of line as she is, because who would be as strange as this? You’ve said no to things when they’re dealbreakers and you’re arranging logistics to back away from her; it sounds like she’s almost entirely out of your life now, in fact.

        3. Hills to Die on*

          Childhood abuse can really skew what is normal and appropriate. You are doing a good job. :)

        4. Ann*

          I hope I don’t offend LW with this, but from my expereince as a young WOC from an “other” ethnicity I get the strong impression that this lady also feels it’s ok to bear down/ validated in her behaviour for two more reasons as well: a) LW’s younger and b) of an ethnicity where women are likely to be portrayed as meek, soft, overly accomodating, caring, nurturing and in need of a strong maternal/ mentor figure that shows them how to toughen up (of yourse the other trope is “tempramental and hot blooded” blargh!). I find the lady joining the Hispanic group very insulting and patronising.

          Just as long as LW’s grateful to her and follows her lead everything is fine- and yes, the backlash from LW withdrawing from her could be that she’ll label her as unreliable and ungrateful and whatever else, so if LW cares about her connection with the other people in the organisation then she can inform a few choice, key people about this behaviour to preserve her reputaion, or just sit it out- others will probably have twigged on how that lady can be insufferable.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Seriously. She seems like Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With at a Party on steroids.

    4. Peachkins*

      Thank you very much for the update! I do have to say that I think you’re being way too polite here. It seems like you keep agreeing to help out with just one more thing, and you really need to stop. It’s no wonder she keeps contacting you and asking for favors. I’m glad to see you have started saying no to some things though- please keep doing it.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      So, a little less bad than the letter, but consistent lack of boundaries that has caused you actual harm (payment).

      She sees you (and these orgs) as an extension of herself, which means she feels entitled: to make decisions for you / to your stuff / etc. Joining the Hispanic heritage group is still what makes it seem focused on *you* specifically. I think the advice to treat her as a stalker is still correct, at least to the ‘cut all ties, nail down your social media, change your phone #, let your friends know not to discuss you with her.’

      On the career group, if you can join a larger chapter (ie, national instead of local), maybe that will give you access to the perks without the drawbacks of dealing with Sally Sucktastic.

    6. Autumnheart*

      This woman is like a mother-in-law from hell, except she’s not related to you!

      I’d block this woman on social media and on your phone. You’ve already told her no, you’ve backed out, you’ve resigned, you’ve removed yourself from groups…just make this your official resignation, don’t go to any more events (including this meeting to “say goodbye”), tell her something came up and to tell everyone goodbye for you, and block block block! It seems to me like this woman will take any opportunity to worm her way back into your life if you let her.

      1. Agglutination*

        I already went and that’s enough for me. She’s already blocked. On to new and better frontiers!

          1. fposte*

            Okay, I’m kind of annoyed here–I didn’t write this followup. Could you please not do that, whoever you are?

    7. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      Honestly it sounds like you should have a come to Jesus conversation with her before you leave the group. Something like “You have proven time and again that you cannot respect my boundaries, and are constantly asking me for more that I am willing to give. You have made this group stressful and unpleasant for me, and you are the reason I’m leaving it. I wanted you to know this because I’ve seen you act this way towards other members and for the sake of the organization you should know how off-putting it is when you try to take more time and effort from people than they have volunteered to give”. Then maybe tell some people in the group you trust that you warned her about that behavior, just so they know that she has been told. Don’t be emotional about it – just matter of fact. If you’re leaving anyway it might help to have this behavior spelled out for her once, very clearly.

      1. Antilles*

        I disagree with having one last conversation with her. In her original letter, OP mentioned that she’d said several times that she would be stepping back. And in this update, OP specifically told her “this week will be my last meeting just to say goodbye because I’m busy with school”…and she then tried to force OP to use her personal laptop and make OP volunteer to get the laptop working. So I just don’t see ANY possibility for the ‘one last conversation’ to be anything useful since OP already *tried* multiple times to indicate she’s leaving and the person refused to accept that.
        Any conversation about “this is why I’m leaving” is going to just turn into the woman trying to badger/push/guilt OP into staying. And when OP refuses and tries to refocus the discussion on why OP is leaving, the woman will just ignore the feedback anyways.
        Advice unoffered is no more useless than advice which gets completely ignored.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I think the OP has effected her escape, and that’s the success here. We as commentators might like to think of this women getting Told Off in No Uncertain Terms, but the OP has already achieved the outcome that’s good for her–no need to talk to the Boundary Buster.

      2. Blue Anne*

        I don’t think this would be productive. I would be shocked if this person was capable of taking that feedback.

        1. Lance*

          Almost certainly not. A woman like this who’s prepared to freely steamroll over anything and everything she feels like toward her (and that’s just her) end goals is not going to cease such habits without being thoroughly cut off from being able to pull such things by everyone around her, I feel.

      3. Jadelyn*

        Noooo – I’m with Antilles here. This woman is batshit crazy and has gone so far past the line that it’s a mere speck in the distance, so she’s very much at the “No is a complete sentence/never JADE” point. If the OP engages with her in any way, even as a come-to-Jesus talk, this utter nutjob is going to use that as another opportunity to try to browbeat the OP into engaging further. Absolute no-contact is the only way to handle that type of person, because they will use literally anything as a hook to try to reel you back in with.

        If OP needs that sense of closure, or thinks it might actually do some good, they can have that conversation with someone else at the group maybe – but not with Miss Crazypants herself.

      4. Observer*

        Nope to the nth degree. There is nothing the OP can say that will make this person see reason. There is no likely outcome that is in any way positive. If the OP is lucky, the outcome wold be neutral.

    8. Bea*

      Thank you for the extra info.

      I wasn’t getting stalker vibes, just pushy and insufferable “do gooder” ones. This elaboration makes me feel like I read right the first time!

    9. Blue Anne*

      Seems like something unusual is definitely going on in this person’s mind. All of it sounds a lot like stuff that my mom would do (and she has a personality disorder).

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I’m not sure this is somebody who is going to properly process the louder, firmer version of “No” that some people would like the OP to give. I think she’s probably taking the wisest tack by just disentangling herself.

    10. Matilda Jefferies*

      That is useful context, thank you! And it does change my advice elsewhere – based on this, I agree that she’s likely more annoying than dangerous.

      But even so, I don’t love that she keeps following you. Am I right that this is three separate organizations where you’ve crossed paths like this? The first one, which is the one you originally wrote about; then the Hispanic group; then the one that’s related to your new field of study. It’s probably not malicious, but it doesn’t look like a coincidence to me either. And I don’t love that you keep feeling that you have to leave these organizations to stay away from her – your friends, your cultural group, your career. It still feels pretty icky to me, and I hope you can find a way to stay away from her without jeopardizing your own quality of life.

      1. Agglutination*

        The social circle here is small.

        I met her through a local chapter of a volunteer organization (I helped to found the local chapter). She moved here while I was on maternity leave. She had come from a different chapter in a different country. When I met her people were deferring to her because she had transferred in. I thought she was more experienced than I was. It turns out she had only been with the organisation for a few months. While I was on leave she did a lot of things like cut the social time of our meetings, eliminate our budget for things like coffee and water at the meetings, and added new roles to meetings – things that were completely unnecessary, but she liked. For example, she wanted every meeting to start on a lighthearted note, so she added a new role specifically for the purpose of someone starting the meeting with a joke or a poem or inspirational quote. Instead of, you know, finding a way to naturally include something like that into opening remarks. She kept pushing this idea so much that when we hosted a national conference she accidentally assigned two people the role of the ‘comedian’, causing a lot of confusion and disrupting the meeting.

        The Hispanic network is a new thing started up this year by some other women in our community (who are all very nice, welcoming people). My colleague has joined up as a member and signs up for literally all the events to help out at the events themselves (not as part of their administration). She’s older than me, and both of her children are grown, and she invited herself to the easter egg hunt last spring (which I did not attend).

        And now she has been hired on as the leadership (paid position) as the head of one of the largest organisations that hires people in my master’s program. It’s not the only opportunity in town but she has a lot of connections in the industry. I should mention that she does not have a degree in this field, and her taking this job is entirely independent of me taking a master’s degree. She was being ‘mysterious’ about a new job opportunity around the same time I was considering starting my degree. It’s frustrating, but not malicious.

        I don’t think she’s following me, we just tend to move in the same circles.

        1. Jersey's mom*

          You mentioned that she will tell other people to contact you because “she’s concerned about you”. You could consider telling these well-meaning people, who may have no idea what’s going on, something like: “I have no idea why she keeps telling people to call/visit me! My husband and I have already told her to stop calling/texting/visiting us, because she’s not a friend. Honestly, it feels very creepy like she stalking me! If she asks you to do this again, we’d really appreciate it if you said no to her.”

          This makes it clear that you and your husband find her behaviour out of line, lets friends know that’s she’s asking multiple people to do this, while conveying the “stalker” vibe.

          I think if you just tell people that she’s stalking you, she or others might try to mediate or argue the point. The first two sentences give the reasons.

          Best of luck with school!

          1. valentine*

            It’s frustrating, but not malicious.
            Even if she didn’t know what degree you were considering, she need not be malicious to be a stalker as well as a steamroller. It’s important to find out if she harasses other people, if she’s obsessed with you, and/or if your world is just this small. She’s inserting herself at high levels everywhere you turn, shrinking your space and boosting her reputation as dedicated, passionate, and tireless, for anyone who doesn’t know she stalks and runs roughshod over you every chance she gets/makes.

            I hope you can find orgs with better leadership, that won’t let someone take over like this, getting rid of wanted coffee/water and appointing unwanted comedians.

            1. Nea*

              THIS! I’ve been trying to frame a response to “not malicious” because malicious or not, upsetting two separate people to the point that they won’t let Polly Pushy even near their child means that this is far more than just “frustrating.”

              1. MCMonkeyBean*

                I could be wrong but I think in this context when they said “not malicious” they were just referring to the fact that them taking a job in a field related to OP was not in anyway because of the OP. Just noting that she wasn’t specifically targeting the OP for sinister reasons.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          You don’t think she’s following you. To me it sounds like she probably is. Can you find out for sure?
          Did she know what field you were getting your master’s in?
          Was she already in that industry? If she already was then maybe it is a coincidence.
          To me it seems you need to stand up to her in every way, make your message loud and clear, and make sure all your mutual friends know this as well as leadership in all three of these groups. I think that’s the best way to protect yourself.
          Also if she is following you, maybe a direct confrontation (in front of witnesses for protection) will help. You would just say “Are you actually following me? Are you joining these groups because I’m in them?”
          IME a direct question like that can make the person so flustered and embarrassed *they* will leave.
          You would want to tell others what’s going on before you do this, so they won’t be taken by surprise too.
          Good luck!

    11. Oranges*

      I’m amazed at her gall. She’s going up to people and asking to borrow their LAPTOPS! $1,000+ and personal information.

      She is COMMITTED to her volunteer goal whatever it is. Unfortunately she’s so committed that she’s gonna “make butter instead of whipped cream”. I’ve found the only way to deal with these people is to give them the cut direct. You don’t make eye-contact, you don’t talk to them (even in group spaces), you basically pretend they don’t exist. Harsh but sometimes the only thing you can do.

      Good luck!

  30. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    “Following us hosting a big event for the city, she tried to take my pay and spend it on the organization.”
    So you were given a reimbursement or stipend for this event and she told the organization, on your behalf, to keep it.
    DAFUQ is going on in her head?

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Honestly… this is one of the biggest things that keeps me out of volunteer organizations. It’s the volunteer zealot… they have invested so much of themselves into the group that they lose all perspective and normalcy expecting others to do the same.

      This is why she tried to keep the money for the group… I mean if she was willing to donate hers, then surely the OP was willing to do the same.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Totally get it – I’ve done volunteer work with a number of different organizations for years, and I’ve noticed the same problems crop up in place after place, and the Volunteer Zealot is usually one (they’re often someone who doesn’t have a day job or is retired and doesn’t seem to get that not everyone can be available at 11 am on a Tuesday or has the spoons to do endless projects while working full-time).

        The organizations I’ve stuck with generally have a volunteer coordinator that is an actual paid position, because then at least there’s generally SOME accountability.

        1. dawbs*

          Ha, that’s me at the small nonprofit I work for.
          Im new at volunteer coordinating, but I’ve already been told people are happier with the puhiness level.
          Not at all perfect, I’ve got fewer volunteer hours than my predecessor. But I also have more productive and happier volunteers, I think.

          (Hell I did a contest interview this morning and
          Led that part of it with “let me describe what we do and expect and hours. First, I knowe people have lives, he is the contact info sheet. If you can’t come in, wer understand- but please contact us in one of these 3 ways (phone email or other phone) so we don’t worry or plan on you. “)

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        I can imagine a normal conversation where the person says to the co-volunteer “we’d like to give you and OP something for your trouble” and they reply politely “oh, no, that’s not necessary!” But once they insisted and handed over the gift cards it is really, really, really not okay for the co-volunteer to do anything with it other than pass it on to the OP.

  31. animaniactoo*

    …she would send mutual friends to reach out to me, asking about my health, and then following up with a request to come back and volunteer

    OP, you need to make it clear to your mutual friends what is happening and ask them NOT to be the bearer of messages from her.

    You need to cut off her ability to send flying monkeys at you – because just resigning will not be the end of it. This woman is relentless, she WILL continue to try to get to you through other people and get you to “come back”. So you need to start being open and clear about what is happening with those who end up acting as her messengers or they will only continue to act as her messengers.

    Help them with things they can say “I’m sure she’ll get in touch with you if she wants to volunteer again. She’s been pretty firm about this and I don’t feel comfortable bringing it up with her again.” “She’s fine.” “No, no need to be concerned, she’s just decided not to be involved any more.” “No, it’s her choice, I’m not going to try and convince her to do something she’s been clear she doesn’t want to do.” “I understand [Organization’s] need, but it will have to be someone else, she’s not available.” “Yes, she did a great job when she was here, unfortunately she’s not available.”

    And please please PLEASE note in every organization that you are both in that you are withdrawing due to her *leadership* role and the relentless refusal to accept your boundaries. Lay out exactly the kind of stuff that you have posted here about her tactics, and explain that you wish the organization well, you would love to be more involved, but need to remove yourself from contact and communication with her for these reasons. When I say “note”, I mean, write it up and send them a letter – addressed to the top of whatever org it is. If the professional org for your field has a parent body and she’s the head of the local branch, send it to the parent body.

    Your particular experience may not be enough to tip them out of keeping her on-board/around/etc. (I mean, it should. But small communities are sometimes dry for people willing to do the stuff she’s signing up to do.) However it might be when it happens the next time or the time after that, and the bigger thing is that it gets your experience out there so that it limits and reduces her power to affect you and your personal reputation within the community.

    What you are describing right now is isolating yourself out of her sphere of influence but it sounds like you are ending up in a small box to get away from her – and ultimately that will be self-defeating for you. So… fill people in on what’s going on. You don’t have to be malicious or anything else about describing what she’s doing. You can absolutely describe her as “over-enthusiastic” and “has a major problem hearing or respecting “no” which has made it increasingly hard to say “yes” to anything” in as matter-of-fact a tone you can. But make it clear the level of pursuit that she is employing and your desire to be removed from it. There’s a strong shot that people are already a little confused and unclear about what is going on, or have seen stuff they’re uncomfortable with, and only need a clear direction from you about what you want to have happen to go ahead and do that. That they’ve had similar experiences with her but are having their own issues drawing boundaries with her and are willing to band together and support you and be supported by you in reducing her sphere of influence while NOT shrinking yourself into a square foot of space that she can’t reach you in.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      support you and be supported by you in reducing her sphere of influence while NOT shrinking yourself into a square foot of space that she can’t reach you in.

      This is really important. You’ve left – or are considering leaving – so many things that are important to you, because she keeps following you. That’s backwards. You haven’t done anything wrong, and you shouldn’t have to isolate yourself from your friends and things you enjoy because of her. Rather, SHE is the one who should be leaving, and the organizations should support you in keeping her away from you as much as possible.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        It can be really hard to fight that fight – you have to not only argue with her, but there’s all that work that she does, that someone needs to do… It’s exhausting. OP’s *busy*. And there’s probably some racial / economic disparities in play (grad student vs ‘someone with enough time to be involved in 3 volunteer orgs’ for example).

        It is backwards, OP shouldn’t have to walk away, but OP is the person who knows her resources and situation, not us. OP should do some things to protect herself, but anything beyond that, well, OP, do you. Take all these comments as advice on steps to take if you choose to go down certain paths, but trust yourself and your husband in deciding which path to take.

        Me? I’d take a middle path:
        1) Send one letter to the original and hispanic groups higher leadership, explaining you’re leaving bcs of Sally Sucktastic, listing the 3 worst things she’s done to harm volunteers.
        2) Look closely at my options with the professional group – when you graduate, any chance you can lead the local chapter? Join at a larger geographical area level?
        3) Cut all contact with her: block on social media, change phone #, post friends-only not public
        4) Tell friends not to be her go-between
        5) Ignore her if you are ever in her physical presence

        Captain Awkward talks a lot about building friendships 1 on 1 when the larger group has problematic members. Consider coffee / hang out at home, small group / friend dates with a few people you really want to keep.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I wouldn’t limit the number of items in #1. List everything that’s important *including* the things she’s done to you personally. Like trying to drive your car with your kid in it. And joining two other organizations you already belonged to.

    2. designbot*

      This! I would be really clear with people that you backed out of these organizations because of her harassment, that she continues to try to contact you, and you need their help in not giving her access because her behavior has been taking over your life. Don’t shy away from calling it harassment, because that’s what it is. Return the awkwardness to sender, let her feel the impacts of what she’s doing instead of taking them all on yourself, in whatever ways you can!

      1. animaniactoo*

        I actually would shy away from calling it harassment to others until others have a much clearer view of how over-the-top she is. If anything, I would say “I feel harassed” (because she does not take no for an answer even after the 3rd no, etc.).

        OP does not want to get into a debate over whether the behavior counts as harassment with people who will think she’s just too enthusiastic. She wants to defend her right not to be over-enthused on. While I agree that she *should* be able to label it for what it is, if it is going to detract from the end-goal here: Others recognizing that the “enthusiasm” goes too far and willing to help draw boundaries around it — then the desire to label it for what it is ultimately impedes getting the help she needs in shutting down this woman’s access to her via other channels.

  32. Matilda Jefferies*

    Oh wow, OP. That is really, really problematic behaviour – and yes, even dangerous for you and your family. I suspect this is one of those situations where she started with small boundary violations, which you accepted (possibly for very good reasons!). Then once you got used to the new boundaries, she gradually escalated. It probably happened so slowly that you didn’t even notice. Then eventually, you wrote to an advice columnist about her “pushiness,” and all of a sudden you have half the internet going WHAT THE HELL THIS IS NOT OKAY.

    You’re not seeing the forest because you’ve been focusing on the trees for so long. Which is totally normal in your situation – really, people can get used to almost anything! I hope the act of writing everything out in that update, plus the horrified reaction of all these anonymous strangers, has helped you see how really, really not-okay this all is. Please reach out to all these various organizations with your story, and ask them to help keep her away from you. And honestly, a call to the police would not be out of line either. Good luck – we’ll be thinking about you.

  33. T*

    Start writing down dates and times and keep a record of her actions. If you both live in a small town this probably won’t go away easily considering how nuts she sounds, and you may need to get a restraining order from her. You’ll need facts when you go to the police, if it comes to that. I would definitely let your bosses at the volunteer job know what she’s been doing. This sounds absolutely bonkers, sorry she won’t leave you alone.

  34. ectotherm*

    Not the same situation, but somewhat the same principle: I was stalked several years ago by another member of the volunteer group I belong to which at the time was working on a pilot project to install and maintain teapot infrastructure in our local parks. I felt incredibly trapped, not wanting to leave the organization, not sure if anyone would believe me if I spoke up, scared of losing my new friend group, and terrified that if anyone found out it would ruin our one chance at a teapot partnership. After months of having this guy becoming increasingly unhinged, I finally gave up and talked to a leader in my volunteer group and our contact in the local park governance and they were SO NICE. The stalker was banned from our group, banned from the park system, and had the local park police on his doorstep telling him that one phone call from me saying I had even seen him anywhere, accidentally or not, would mean jail.

    I fully admit to getting super lucky and having the best possible outcome, but at this point what is there to lose by trying to reclaim your life? Good outcomes are possible and I wish you all the success in finding yours, OP!

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      +1,000 for speaking up, because nothing can be done if no one knows.

      I’m sorry you had to deal with all that!

  35. Ms Cappuccino*

    If someone tries to drive off with your child you need to report it to the police and get a restraining order because this person is dangerous.

    I hope you report her behaviour to her boss and HR.

  36. KimberlyR*

    She sounds exhausting and creepy. Please tell your mutual friends at least some of what has happened so that you can maintain your friendships while distancing yourself. You deserve to have a friend group without her. For the Hispanic organization, is it possible to limit membership to Hispanic people only? I know it sounds exclusionary but if she is from that home country, conceivably she can find ways to bond with her own people. Your people should have a way to do the same. I am sorry the situation is what it is but you sound like a positive person and I’m sure time will help distance you from her, which can only help!

  37. Goya de la Mancha*

    This woman is the engineer, conductor and sole passenger of the crazy train!

    OP, I am SO sorry you have to deal with this and wish you the best going forward!

    I think the leader groups of the organizations need to be clued in to her behavior. Not only is it very problematic legally, she’s going to scare off all the good help that those groups need/want.

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*


      Even if I was in an organization that I’ve felt more passion for than I’ve ever felt for anything in my life, and even if her behavior was single handedly saving that organization from complete ruin, I would still want to put a stop to it.

      For the sake of other volunteers, your org’s reputation and your own peace of mind, please clue people in.

  38. inlovewithwords*

    Hey, OP, just another Hispanic who does far too much volunteer work, here to say that I’m *so* sorry her involvement has cut you off from your culture! I hope you can find a way to reconnect with them. Is there any way to tell the people in the group about the harassment and how she’s keeping you from being involved? Any reasonable leadership wouldn’t let that continue.

    Keep your boundaries firm and best of luck!

  39. LadyPhoenix*

    Ok, so the good news is with the update this woman is not a stalker (yay)… she’s just a super “dedicated”, entitled zealot (boo!).

    You blocked her contact, which is good. I would inform her messagers (your friends and family) that you are not part of this orgabization and you want no part of this woman, period, because of her overstepping boundaries. If they were your friends, they will understand and stop. If they continue, well, burn that bridge. Burn it to the ground and have no regrets.

    Of course, now that you’re moving, you can treat this as a clean slate and cut contact with all the old towners (except trust friends and family, of course). You can let people in your program know to avoid this woman if they have an interest in working in your area (“I have experienced a lot of harassment while working with this woman”).

    These kinds of people lose the good faith of people around them fast. There is “dedication” and “assertiveness”… and then there is “zealous” and “pushy”—and she is the latter.

  40. Où est la bibliothèque?*

    Not to make it all about ethnicity when it’s really about Madame Mayor of Crazytown, but IMO there’s a big difference between a white lady being an active part of a Spanish speaking group and a white lady completely hijacking a Mexican celebration like Día de los Muertos…

    1. paxfelis*

      It seems as if the difference is between asking about a culture, and telling people of that culture how to perform their own culture. Is there another aspect of that that I’m missing?

  41. Lobsterman*

    I just wanted to add to the chorus saying that this is harassment and stalking, and OP would be well-served by a restraining order to protect themselves and their family.

  42. ArtK*

    This is an illustration of why, with some people, you don’t give reasons. You simply say “I’m afraid that won’t be possible” and refuse to engage further. They will take any and all reasons as hurdles to be overcome; as openings for negotiations. Rational people, you can say “I don’t have time for this” and they’ll leave you alone. Irrational/pushy people will negotiate until they get what they want. Don’t give them the opening.

  43. HereKittyKitty*

    I don’t think it’s an accident she “happens’ to be in all the groups you are interested in. I think it’s stalking. You need a restraining order.

    1. Kit-Kat*

      Yup. This is the type of BS my (online onl thankfully) stalker will pull. “Oh but we have such similar interests!” was/is her constant excuse for joining the same online communities, having “similar” (the SAME) creative ideas, etc. Some people were easily manipulated by her but it was all Not A Coincidence. Even with the OP’s update I still think there is a stalker element in addition to the Zealot element.

  44. MissDisplaced*

    Wow, just wow. This person is beyond obnoxious. Is there anyone above her you could talk to about her aggressive and pushy behavior? It’s terrible she’s so over the top to the point where you can’t help out once in a while without being in uncomfortable.

  45. Reluctant Manager*

    I recognize my mother in that to a tiny degree: she fails to recognize that what’s good for her is not good for everyone else and we are not hers to use as she sees fit.

    But I’m sad that this woman is making your life smaller.

  46. Len F*

    I think it would have been more helpful to tell her point-of-fact to leave you alone, rather than gently or politely declining.

    It is normal to be polite, to maintain the social contract that we should all be cordial to each other and not rock the boat by being brash and to-the-point. We’re socialised to do this to avoid confrontation.

    The thing is, in this situation, the social contract has already been violated by her when she ignored your polite directives. The situation is of her making, not yours. At that point, trying to handle it as if the social contract were still intact does not work, and I think it’s time to be very blunt and do whatever else you need to do to protect yourself. You would not be the one rocking the boat; she is already rocking it, and bluntly shutting her down is a consequence of that *which she is responsible, not you*.

    She’s a manipulative arsehole, she has crossed the line (several lines), and so I think she has forfeited the right to be handled with with the same politeness and gentleness as ordinary people. I think you should not have to put up with this behaviour, and suffer on her behalf.

    Raise a fuss. Send examples of her behaviour to the heads of the volunteer organisation, the heads of your Día de los Muertos organisers, everyone really. Really, her behaviour is not in any way even remotely normal, and if you reveal it to others they’re also going to recognise it as bonkers.

    >She reminds me a lot of someone who was abusive towards me as a child. I don’t have a very good sense of
    > what ‘normal’ behavior is because of that person and this is probably why I needed advice on how to
    > handle her.

    That makes a ton of sense.

    My opinion here is based on reading a lot of Captain Awkward. Quite often she discusses abuse causing skewed perception of what is normal, and I think she’s an excellent resource (and much more articulate and extensive than this post). Maybe check out https://captainawkward.com/category/boundaries-2/ or https://captainawkward.com/category/saying-no/ or https://captainawkward.com/category/abuse/ ?

    Good luck, and all the best!

  47. MsChanandlerBong*

    Ugh, I hate it when you volunteer for something and show up only to find out they want you to do something else. I understand the need for flexibility; if I sign up to stuff envelopes, I am not upset if they then ask me to enter data in an Excel sheet, fold brochures, or do something else that requires around the same amount of physical effort. But I am very careful about the tasks I sign up for, as I have joint problems, a heart condition, and a history of spine surgery. I am just not cut out for physical labor. So when I sign up for clerical work and then show up and get voluntold I will be setting up tables and chairs or something like that, it puts me in a bad position. Either I say no and look uncooperative, or I don’t say anything and end up hurting myself. It happened to me at a fancy gala a couple years ago. I signed up to stand at a table and pass out food samples. A little more physical than what I usually do, but I was supposed to be standing in one place, handing out a tiny piece of food, and schmoozing with people–not too bad. What ended up happening was that I had to carry extremely heavy trays of food between a hotel conference room and the ballroom where the event was held–while dressed in a formal gown with high heels, as black-tie attire was required. I was MAD, and I will never volunteer for that event again.

    1. Auntie Social*

      YES. Because a night like that can put me in bed the next day. ALL day. My fibro makes me awfully cautious.

  48. Daedalus*

    You mentioned you live a European city. IANAL and it’s not cut-and-dried anyway, but if she keeps padding you back into contact groups that you have indicated you want to leave, she could be placing the organisation in breach of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). While she may not care very much, if you mention this to her higher-ups they should take it very seriously indeed.

    1. Agglutination*

      I signed the GDPR paperwork last night stating I do not want to be contacted by her or the organization. :)

  49. Michaela Westen*

    It really bothers me that this woman joined a Hispanic cultural group when she is not Hispanic, apparently just to harass you. It seems like she’s stalking you. I think this should be addressed because it’s supremely disrespectful to you personally and to your Hispanic group.
    Can you tell the leadership of this group what she’s doing and get them to eject her? Or even better, maybe combined with her other behaviors, a restraining order?
    I’m white and live in a city with a huge Latino population, mostly Mexican-American. I love my Latino friends dearly and would never want to see them disrespected like this. <3 This woman needs to be stopped for both you and them.

  50. CoveredInBees*

    Holy shirtballs! I really hope OP is documenting this in as much detail as possible. I don’t know if it would (finally) scare her off or make her worse, but a strongly-worded letter from an attorney could, at the very least, build a paper trail if you need to take criminal or civil action against her.

    Also, you mentioned that it is a fairly small social circle. Perhaps you can use this to build some support. Have you told people about what she has done? You shouldn’t have to drop out of everything because she is entirely off her rocker. I think it should be used sparingly, but some sort of social consequences/ shunning are called for here. Additionally, you might not be the only one that she has gone after but other people were similarly uncomfortable telling people what she’d done.

    You have our whole hearted sympathies and best wishes for success in your masters program.

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