update: my boss’s angry husband calls multiple times a day for her

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who was being barraged by angry phone calls from her boss’s husband? Here’s the update.

I spoke to Jane and outlined my concerns in full based on what Alison recommended, and Jane was very quiet and heard me out.

She confirmed that she had been moved to this department to put some distance between her and Fergus because she had started divorce proceedings against him and he was refusing to accept reality. I found out that Fergus is also an employee of our company in a managerial role in a different premises, so there was nowhere for Jane to really escape within the company because Fergus would be able to track her down.

She was extremely distressed that Fergus’ behaviour was upsetting me (and other affected colleagues) and said that she was personally sorry for bringing this down on all of us. To which I had to tell her that this is not her fault and Fergus is choosing to be this way, and I think she is incredibly strong to be continuing to divorce this guy and try to move on from his controlling, abusive behavior. 

After our heart to heart, Jane herself went to our higher ups and said that she would need protection from the stalking behaviour of her soon-to-be-ex and simply moving departments was not enough. Their solution was to bring Fergus in for a disciplinary meeting broadly about his misuse of company time and company phone to harass multiple colleagues (they kept it as professional as possible to try to limit the personal impact on Jane by Fergus for reporting him,) Fergus lasted about an hour after the meeting ended before calling my customer service line and pouring a stream of unrepeatable hatred down the phone at me. Cue Fergus getting fired for abusive behaviour towards a colleague. As much as it was awful to hear him be so hateful, knowing he’s gone and won’t be allowed back is a relief.

Jane was able to get a restraining order against Fergus on behalf of herself and their children. He can only see them with supervision and he is forbidden from contacting her whatsoever.

So Fergus has no job, cannot live in their shared home, he doesn’t seek visitation because he can’t bully Jane without her there to witness it, and he will be divorced soon too. Jane is cautiously optimistic about the future and we are thrilled to have her back at work and on great form. We are worried that he may retaliate in some way after his life has exploded like this, but you can’t live your life in fear and we’re hoping to move on. Jane and I have a great working relationship and I can’t thank you all enough for encouraging me to speak to Jane again and get to the root of the problem before Fergus caused even more grief.

Happy holidays, all!

{ 209 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Note: I’ve removed some of the details of this update in response to concerns below that some of them could potentially be identifying. (I’ve also removed comments that repeated those details.)

    For people suggesting I should change details rather than removing them: I never do that without explicit permission of the letter-writer because for all I know, they changed or added details themselves to be more anonymous, and I don’t want to risk inadvertently undoing the anonymizing they’d attempted.

    1. Cautious agreement*

      Thank you! What you left is helpful and relevant to others who might be in a similar situation, without telling a story which isn’t OP’s story to tell. Best wishes to OP and Jane.

    2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Thank you very much, Alison. That must have been a lot of work. Please know it’s much appreciated. The updated post reads very well and does a good job in updating us. You are also right about not changing details without checking with the letter-writer.

      Good luck to Jane and her children, and I hope that 2020 brings them all the joy in life.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Thanks, Alison. The edit retains all the useful information without any of the private details, and is still YIKES at its bare bones.

    4. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

      This is one of the things I love about this site. Alison is more concerned about the posters than about getting “click bait” to just make some cash.

      Alison, thank you for all you do for the OPs.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      AGREED!!! I am so glad Jane is remaining strong and that OP is supporting Jane in her efforts to GET AWAY FROM FERGUS. I hope the kids will be okay despite having this horrible father. Go Jane, go OP, we’re all routing for you!!!

    2. TardyTardis*

      Here’s hoping Fergus pays attention to the restraining order. Unfortunately, not everyone does.

  2. Clorinda*

    This is utterly terrifying. I hope your company has a very strong and strictly enforced security policy, and that nobody holds open any secure door for anyone EVER.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      This. I have seen these things play out, and they usually don’t end well. I hope Jane has strong protection around herself in her personal life as well.

      1. Jennifer*

        She needs to hire security if that’s in her budget at all. They need enhanced security at this place of business too at all of their locations.

    2. UbiCaritas*

      LW, please protect yourself. Fergus is most likely to go after Jane, but he may go after people he thinks have encouraged her, also.

      1. Never Been There, Never Done That*

        Yeah, guys like him have no compunction about doing things to people that “wronged” him. Righteous anger is terrifying.

      2. AKchic*


        My 1st ex-husband made so many false reports against my 2nd husband that he ended up getting discharged from the air force.
        Once everyone finally realized that the person filing the reports was impersonating a retired officer, wasn’t actually married to me (and there was no cheating, no conspiring to cheat, blah blah blah) and was actually a stalker/abuser/former spouse actively trying to harm a soldier and a civilian contractor who had already filed multiple restraining orders and had copies filed with the installation’s MPs (but gee, one of the MPs kept bringing the stalker on the installation even after he was barred by court order…)

        Some abusers will do anything for “payback”. Even against the people they think “helped” their actual victim. They don’t see themselves as the “bad guy” in the scenario at all.

        1. RadManCF*

          Was it your first or second husband that was discharged? I can’t tell which one the he is referring to.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            It sounds like the 2nd. Which would be why 1st’s continued access to the instillation was so problematic.

          2. Junger*

            I think the second husband.
            Since the bogus-reports-filer was “impersonating an officer”, “a stalker”, and “trying to harm a soldier”. Which sounds like the first husband was not a part of the military.

            1. Becca*

              I read it that way the first time too, but in that case the end of a thought is missing, as it goes “once (explanation) …” and thinking it was the second husband fired I expected it to end with “it was too late” or something.

              If it were the first husband fired it would be a complete thought “he was fired. once (explanation)”.

          3. AKchic*

            2nd husband was discharged.

            1st husband has no record of ever being in the military, yet still claims to have served. He currently tells people that he served in Vietnam (he was born in 1969). He used my civilian contractor access to get access to the installation we lived near and pretend to be a veteran. My access is how I met my 2nd husband.

            1. RadManCF*

              Thanks for the clarification. I’m a law student, and I’m trained to get hung up on ambiguities. Definitely sounds like a bad situation. How did things turn out for your husband? It sounds like he may have gotten a less than honorable discharge.

      3. Dagny*

        He might also go after the LW just because he can.

        I had an awful, abusive ex in college who went after my then-roommate because it was easy for him to access her (screen names, phone, email, etc.) and doing so upset me.

    3. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      This was my thought, too. Your company should have training for active shooter events and guys like him are the reason why. For people with trauma issues trainings can be as simple as reading a list of dos and don’ts. We originally had videos and in person trainings from professionals, but because this is hard (understandably) for some, they have the option of simply reading something about how to stay safe. Even thinking of the best escape route for yourself is better than nothing.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is so terrifying, and I’m so glad that the company get involved (as they needed to). I’m sending Jane a lot of warm thoughts and support as she navigates this terrifying experience.

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Holy forking shirtballs
      This is *close* to what I thought, repeatedly, throughout this update.

      I’m very glad this is a positive outcome, despite the terrifying middle steps between writing to AAM and Fergus being kicked to the curb, and I hope Jane and her children have the very best future.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I didn’t know my jaw could drop as low as it did while reading this.

      Ferguson sounds completely unhinged, and I hope that Jane and her kids have help to enforce the order against him to keep all of them safe.

    1. Dame Judi Brunch*

      Oh wow. Wow. I wish Jane and her family all the best. Crazy respect for Jane for standing her ground like that!
      Thank you for the update and for being so supportive to Jane!

  3. What was I doing SQUIRREL!*

    OP, thanks so much for sending this update. I’m crossing fingers that this is the beginning of a happy new life for Jane.

  4. Harriet*

    OP – thank you for looking out for Jane. I wish every person trying to escape an abusive relationship had supportive colleagues and a supportive employer like yours.

    1. Anonyna*

      Same here. Most of the Canadian federal government unions are working out a domestic violence leave policy with the employer, and some unions already have it implemented. I’m sure there will be kinks to work out as people use it, but it’s a start to something that’s been needed for a long time in both public and private sector workplaces.

  5. Marny*

    I’m so glad your conversation with Jane motivated her to talk to her work supervisors so that he could ultimately be fired! You must have done a great job in supporting her, OP.

  6. SereneScientist*

    OP, thank you for this update and thoughts for both you and Jane. What a terrible thing to go through and in such a visible way. In the end, your company did the right thing and Fergus will hopefully get the message/back off.

  7. Hills to Die on*

    Thank god for Jane having the fortitude to stand up for herself in the hospital and continue the divorce. Not everyone can get their kids away from a controlling ex. I’m so glad she was able to do so.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Comments go into moderation for all sorts of reasons or none at all. Sometimes the moderation filter malfunctions or makes an odd decision. Please trust it’s not personal. (If it’s happening to *all* your comments, email me at that point … but otherwise please assume it’s a fluke. Also, don’t assume I’ll see comments left here, as I don’t see all of them.)

  8. Foreign Octopus*

    This is just…holy shit.

    Thanks for updating us, OP, and I really, really hope that Jane is able to get herself as free of this man as she can. I’m glad that you’ve been able to help make work a safe space for her, but it seems like the company really fell down on this until the hate was directed at you. I wish they’d been more proactive in protecting Jane but it seems that things are as good as they can be given the situation.

    1. CatCat*

      What do you think the company should have done differently once Jane told the higher ups what was going on?

      1. Crivens!*

        Fired him immediately and installed in-depth security measures to make sure he was never allowed back in the building, connected Jane in whatever way they could to additional resources so she could feel secure outside of work as well.

        1. Phony Genius*

          The letter writer did not know at the time that Fergus also worked for them. If they had, the initial response would probably have been different.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        Fired his ass immediately, banned him from the premises, hired extra security, and sent out an email to the company that he is not to be anywhere near their offices – if he is, no one should allow him into the building and they need to notify security ASAP.

        1. Perpal*

          I tend to disagree; for SOME stalkers/abusers letting them know their job is on the line if they don’t shape up is motivation to stop the behavior, and may be more protective than just firing them right away. In this case it didn’t work and they escalated appropriately to firing him immediately after he repeated the behavior.

      3. Sharkie*

        I have a friend who has a coworker that going through this exact situation- both of them work for the same large company at different offices. Their upper management is handling this wonderfully-
        1. They blocked her office/ group from his line. If he needs to discuss something someone else in his office has to call/ he has to send an email
        2. They disabled his badge so he can’t scan into her building/ office
        3. After a letter with a bullet was placed in her internal mailbox he was placed on leave as a precaution

        1. Sharkie*

          I would also like to point out that her company has divorce guidelines that they follow whenever 2 employees are getting divorced. More protections can be added if a lawyer or lawyers requests it.

        2. Warm Weighty Wrists*

          PLACED ON LEAVE? Please tell me that leave will only last as long as it takes for the paperwork firing him to go through.

          1. J*

            Right?! Placed on leave for what is–c’mon now–a death threat?! Even if only #1 and 2 were happening, why is the company keeping this guy around? He–a grown man, in control of his faculties–has to be physically blocked from coming into contact with his ex-wife, presumably because he would harass her in some fashion if permitted to contact her. What kind of a loose cannon is this guy? I don’t care if he’s a genius; he doesn’t sound like an employee I’d want in my organization.

            And yet people get fired for all sorts of BS off-the-clock/non-work-related reasons. But this dude needs to be restrained from harassing his ex-wife on company grounds, and we are grateful that the company is willing to restrain him! It’s a messed up world.

            1. Sharkie*

              They do 1 and 2 for every couple that is getting divorced while they are both employed at the company. Even for the most friendly divorces

              1. J*

                See and that’s just infantalizing. We clearly have different sensibilities– I don’t say that to be accusatory, just acknowledging that this apparently works for some people but it sure doesn’t work for me.

                (I also don’t see the point in investigating post-bullet. Chances are very good that this is happening in an at-will jurisdiction. Just fire the guy and be do with it!)

                1. Zillah*

                  They presumably have other ways to contact or see each other, though, and I don’t think it’s infantilizing to reflect the fact that when there are heightened emotions involved, people sometimes don’t have the best judgment and/or just want control over when they talk to the other person, and it’s also a good idea to have a written record of their work-related communication. It’s not terribly onerous to just call someone’s cell phone.

        3. Mainly Lurking*

          I’m sorry, but while your friend’s employer is doing more than most employers would, I don’t think they are handling this ‘perfectly’.

          They seem to be bending over backwards to keep a known harasser in his job.

            1. Quill*

              Oh, for sure, but if you need to involve the police with an employee, why would you keep them even on suspension?

        4. Richard Hershberger*

          The bullet, if nothing prior to that, is a clear threat against their employee. Putting him on leave seems a somewhat less than wonderful response.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            It’s a bullshit response. Not only did he threaten the ex with that move, but also the rest of the people working in that office – he should have been fired on the spot.

            1. Sharkie*

              Without going into details it wasn’t the first time bullets have been found/ threatening letters have been sent to employees. It is very common in the field. They have to have ducks in the row for everything to be airtight. Other precautions are in place but I don’t want to but them all over the internet.

              1. Katiekaboom22*

                What the hell field do you work in that sending threatening letters and bullets to coworkers is common?!?

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  From my own experience? Women’s health, advocacy for vulnerable populations, etc—a few different political and charitable organizations also come to mind and that’s just what I can think of locally.

                  (Storytime: When I had to get a drug test a few years ago as part of an interview process, the women who were in charge of the testing facility were chatting about how the current location was temporary until the previous location could be rebuilt. They had been renting space in the same building as a clinic that was set on fire for providing health services, even though the clinic did not in fact provide the health service the arsonists thought they did.)

              2. Gazebo Slayer*

                Even if it’s common, it’s still a death threat and should be treated as such. Which includes summarily firing the guy.

      4. Foreign Octopus*

        Instead of talking to Ferguson about his misuse of company time and the use of his phone to harass colleagues, they should have made it perfectly clear that his behavior was unacceptable. They should have ,are it as difficult as possible to contact Jane. They should have told him that if he called through to the customer line then he would be sacked and/or put on probation without pay. Instead, they did a simple hand wave over the problem and hope it went away.

        They only intervened when OP was on the receiving end of the harassment, which makes me think the higher ups were unwilling to intervene to a greater extent because they perceived this problem as a personal issue, not a work one.

        1. Anonapots*

          They only intervened when the company became aware of it. If you read the original letter, Jane said she would speak to her partner. She was acting out of fear. It’s not uncommon for women to lose their jobs when abusive partners show up and flip out at their jobs. So, no, you got this wrong. They weren’t handwaving until the OP brought it up because they probably didn’t know what was happening.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            I did read the original letter, ta, and if you had read my comment more clearly you would have seen it was made made with the company’s behaviour after they had been made aware in mind. When they knew it was happening, they could have done more in the manner I stated above. They didn’t and that’s a failure on their part.

            1. Anonapots*

              They followed exactly the procedure that was appropriate. They wrote him up, gave him direction on behavior, and fired him when he didn’t follow that direction. I’m not sure what you’re taking issue with. They moved when they found out about the abuse. The end.

    2. Coder von Frankenstein*

      The LW indicated the company was trying to limit the blowback on Jane, by keeping the discussion focused on Fergus’s treatment of LW and their coworkers. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was at Jane’s specific request.

      We can only speculate what they would have done if Fergus hadn’t gone off the way he did; perhaps the disciplinary meeting was meant as a first step in pushing him out, perhaps not. What we can say is that they did ultimately a) fire Fergus and b) keep Jane’s name out of it, which is about the best possible outcome in the situation.

  9. CatCat*

    Wow. Thanks for supporting Jane at such a scary and stressful time. I hope for the best for Jane and her kids. Jane is a really strong person.

  10. soon*

    Just a reminder, always offer abused people an abuse hotline number. The resources and support these organizations provide can be a tremendous help to those wanting to get out of abusive relationships but who are unsure how to safely proceed.

    1. Jamie*

      This. And leaving is often the most dangerous time…once they have nothing left to lose things can go downhill dramatically. I hope Jane and her children are safe and this is the start to a more peaceful chapter of life for them.

  11. emmelemm*

    So it really was as much of a volatile situation as it appeared to be from the letter! It’s easy to feel like the commenters are overreacting sometimes, but here they were appropriately reacting.

    I’m glad it sounds like things are improving for Jane.

      1. emmelemm*

        Yeah, I’m still a bit worried, but for now it sounds like this is about as good of an update as could be.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Yes. I’m glad for Jane, but worried for her and her children, too. And also for the employees where Jane works.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I’m grateful that the restraining order applies to the kids as well as Jane. Those poor babies have already been through too much.

          1. KHB*

            Well, we only heard about this story in the first place because Fergus couldn’t help but let loose with his anger around OP and other colleagues. If he’d kept his abusive behavior private (as many abusers do), who knows what might have happened to Jane?

          2. Wintermute*

            this is really important to call out. Our brains latch onto disaster, because we’re built for survival– it’s more important to pay attention to things that may harm us than all the things in the world that go well (people regularly overestimate the chances of being killed by a serial killer by several thousand percent, when in reality you’re more likely to be hit by lightning twice).

            But the majority of people do, in fact, get away. It’s scary, of course you need to take steps to protect yourself, and there may be lesser-but-still-terrifying degrees of violence than a murder attempt, but statistically, the chances are good.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              Do you have any statistics on this? I’m seriously asking because everyone I know who’s successfully left an abusive/controlling relationship has had to move, sometimes to another state, to get far enough away from their abuser that the continued attempts at contact stopped being an issue.

              I know at least part of that is just my confirmation bias, so I’d love to know that it’s not actually as bad as my experience indicates it is. :)

      2. kittymommy*

        Same. I also hope that the LW is careful as well. With that level of instability if he can’t get to Jane he may try to get to the LW. I hope the office is taking security seriously (and there’s hope since they took Jane’s report seriously).

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      I am still worried for Jane. These things usually have a cycle to them, and it’s hard to get out the first time. Abusers don’t just… disappear.

      I’m hoping she is able to make a clean break and Fergus gets the help he needs.

    2. OhNo*

      Agreed. My first thought was of terrible abusive situations, and I’m actually a bit surprised that it turned out to be the case. I hope Jane and the OP know that a bunch of internet strangers are rooting for them! Here’s hoping neither of them have to deal with this guy ever again.

    1. Bertha*

      I don’t think it was in the first letter! The LW writes here that she “found out” that Fergus worked at the same company.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I don’t think OP knew that at the time and only learned of it when they went back to talk to Jane about the extent of the problem.

    3. Heidi*

      I don’t think it was in the original post. I don’t recall if it was mentioned in the comments section.

    4. Triumphant Fox*

      I think the OP discovered that later. “I found out that Fergus is also an employee of our company in a managerial role in a different premises, so there was nowhere for Jane to really escape within the company because Fergus would be able to track her down.” That makes it sound like this was a new discovery.

    5. SarahKay*

      I don’t think it was in the original letter. The updates says “I found out that Fergus is also an employee of our company in a managerial role in a different premises” so I think this is new information.
      Must have been very scary for Jane; thank goodness Fergus is gone now.

  12. WantonSeedStitch*

    Oh wow, poor Jane, and YAY Jane. I’m so, so, so glad for her that she’s getting herself and her children away from this horrible guy. I don’t even know her, but I am rooting for her hard, and I wish her the best. Good for you too, OP, for speaking up, and for staying strong in the face of this terrible behavior.

  13. MistOrMister*

    Thank goodness Jane didn’t cancel the divorce proceedings just to make things easier on the colleagues!! It sounds like if anyone deserves to be away from their spouse, Jane does. This is such an unfortunate situation for everyone involved (except for Fergus, I do NOT feel sorry for him at all). I am so glad the company didn’t just try to sweep any of this under the rug and that Fergus was booted out pretty much immediately after verbally attacking OP!! Here’s to hoping he leaves OP, Jane and the children alone and figures out that he needs help and gets it.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      >I am so glad the company didn’t just try to sweep any of this under the rug

      The job is at a call center, which means that all calls are probably recorded. That makes it very hard to sweep this all away.

  14. Survivor*

    Letter writer thank you so much for being supportive of Jane and reassuring her that it’s not her fault. And thank you company too. They were very supportive and helpful, when they could have just washed their hands if the mess and fired bothbof them. This is why it can be so hard for women to escape their abusers. They can harass their victims and make it hard for them to work..I’ve heard of people who got fired because their ex kept coming into work (a store) and bugging them. Thank you so much ( from a victim/ survivor of family domestic abuse)

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      That happened to a guy I was friends with in HS, his ex (dated about three months) didn’t want to accept it was over and showed up at his job with a butcher’s knife threatening to kill herself in the parking lot if he didn’t take her back. Fortunately his boss supported him, and she eventually ended up with multiple restraining orders (and a few hospital trips as well I think from her showing up and threatening self harm on business premises). He eventually left that job anyways because he just wanted to completely get away from her.

      Both of them were college students at this point. He’s now doing well – but none of us kept tabs on her after we didn’t have any run-ins in over a year.

  15. Coder von Frankenstein*

    So glad to hear that Fergus is out of the company–and good for you, LW, for supporting Jane through this.

    1. Marie*

      Likewise. This is the most dangerous time for Jane et al. I sincerely hope she remains safe and Fergus doesn’t retaliate.

  16. Why isn't it Friday?*

    OP, Jane needs to be more careful than ever. Abusers actually do the most harm after a restraining order is filed, because it signals to them that their victim is breaking free of the cycle of abuse. They become even more abusive to keep the victim under control. Jane should have a meeting with building security about keeping her ex off the premises and calling the police the second he’s seen. She also needs to install a good security system in her home and call the police the second he steps a foot out of bounds of the restraining order. This ex is a textbook abuser and Jane deserves to feel safe.

    1. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      Absolutely. Front facing staff need to know what he looks like and Jane should be extra cautious.

  17. Amber Rose*


    “So Fergus has no job, cannot live in their shared home, he doesn’t seek visitation because he can’t bully Jane without her there to witness it, and he will be divorced soon too. ”

    Best ending sentence that story could have had really. May he be 10x as miserable as he has made everyone around him.

    1. Terrabitten*

      Unfortunately, this makes him more dangerous as he has less to lose and probably feels like a victim. I hope Jane can be careful.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      The only way it could have been better is if it it ended after that with “And then Fergus was hit by a train.”

  18. Audrey Puffins*

    This is heartbreaking, thank you for the update and thank you even more for all the support you’re giving Jane. I wish you both very full and Fergus-free lives.

  19. Darcy Pennell*

    So glad Jane is moving forward with the divorce, and glad she had you in her corner. This is a dangerous time in an abusive relationship and I hope Jane has a safety plan. The local domestic violence hotline can help her put one together.

    1. Darcy Pennell*

      For what it’s worth, I’ve worked in domestic violence and stories like this are very, very common. I didn’t see any personally identifiable details in there.

  20. Llellayena*

    I am so glad the company stepped up once they knew the full extent of what was happening. There’s a fine line between “effective action” and “making things worse” when it comes to abusive situations and the company seemed to be conscious of that. The outcome within the company was the best that could happen: abuser was given a chance to reform, when abuser didn’t they were immediately fired and no company-based retaliation on the abused (just a whole lot of support). Jane not wanting to bother anyone and considering cancelling the divorce to avoid that was so red-flaggy about the relationship and I’m so glad the OP (and the company) was able to talk her out of that!

  21. Retro*

    It is optimistic to hear that Jane seems to have an informal support structure around her. She’s got OP and her work team who are supportive of her and have kicked Fergus to the curb. Then she’s got legal protection on her side, and she has persistented through all the obstacles to continue her split from Fergus. I know Jane isn’t out of the weeds yet, but it’s a pretty darn good start.

  22. mf*

    OP, you and Jane handled this situation like champs! Fergus sounds genuinely dangerous, so it’s really important that you spoke up. If your work building doesn’t have security, then I’d highly recommend speaking to management about ensuring that there are mechanisms in place to prevent Fergus from showing up at your office.

  23. Globiculator*

    I hope Jane has other contingencies and other precautions have been taken other than the piece of paper restraining order. Fergus sounds like he has *nothing* left to lose.

    1. Granger Chase*

      Sadly, I agree. I would be putting extra security measures in place at home, at work, and at the children’s school(s). Just because he is not seeking supervised visitation does not mean he would not try to do something to the kids in an attempt to manipulate Jane into getting back together.

      As other commenters have mentioned, a domestic abuse hotline will have information to assist with doing this process safely and completely. There are a lot of ways Fergus may still have access to private info on Jane (medical records, social security numbers, etc.) and there should be ways to get access revoked. This is an overwhelmingly difficult time for Jane and her children, and I am sorry for what you had to experience from Fergus as well OP.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        I second the schools, especially. That’s a weak point many abusers take advantage of. Until he was in 3rd grade (old enough to understand what’s going on), my nephew could only leave school with one of 4 people: his mom, his great-aunt who worked at the same school, his grandmother, or me. We had to provide ID, every time. Why? Custody dispute with an abusive now-ex.
        The one time a substitute secretary was manning the desk, she wouldn’t even glance at my ID when I tried to hand it to her. I let my sister know, she let the school know, and the secretary got in big trouble. Not fired, but it was made clear that she’d used up her only pass; one more problem, and she was a goner.

  24. Jaid*

    I’m curious to know if you told Jane that you got advice from here. I’d like to wish her the best, but it’d be creepy.

      1. Red Wheelbarrow*

        I think that Jaid is saying, “I’d like to ask you (OP) to wish Jane the best for me, but it could seem creepy for her to get a message like that from a random internet stranger–so please don’t.” So Jaid isn’t doing something creepy; they’re explaining why they don’t. (Jaid, please correct me if I’m wrong.)

  25. Yuan Zai*

    This is going to sound sarcastic but I promise you all that I mean this sincerely and with kindness:

    I really wish I had so little experience with domestic violence that I believed the details in this letter could identify one single person out there, but I’m just your average, every day citizen and I don’t work in counseling or social service of any sort and yet I know at least three people who could be “Jane” without changing a single detail.

    The odds of Jane randomly finding this blog and realizing it here are actually lower than the odds of multiple “Janes” finding this and wondering if it is about them.

    If you are one of those Janes, I hope what you get from this letter is some hope. It is very hard to be in your shoes and it’s NOT your fault. Do what you need to do to get by and understand that there ARE people out there who are willing and able to help you get out.

  26. Nanobots*

    This is heartbreaking. I wish Jane all the best and hope she and the children make it through this.

  27. Hedgehug*

    This is a very emotional story and update. I feel so incredibly grateful for this blog to exist, because if it didn’t, OP might not have reached out. As a result, OP is an angel to Jane, and so is this blog for playing a part in saving this woman and getting her and her children safe.
    Thank you OP. You did the right thing.

  28. theelephantintheroom*

    This is as great a follow-up as we can get with an abusive husband involved. It’s completely terrifying, but it sounds like Jane is doing everything she can to protect her and her kids. Which is great, because abusive husbands tend to try to kill their wives when they attempt to leave. Hopefully it gets better for her from here.

  29. Daphne Moon*

    Like everyone I’m happy that Jane has stood her ground not only for herself but her two children. I’m worried that Fergus could escalate as well though. 2 notes:
    1. If I were OP or Jane I’d make sure the building knows not to let him on the premises ever again.
    2. OP, you handled this very compassionately and I wanted to give you kudos for that. Well done.

  30. Rainbow Roses*

    As horrible as this is and may continue to be, at least this evil guy is stupid enough to involve witnesses. So many of these monsters get away with it because they are normal, even charming, in public. I just hope he doesn’t go insane to those he thought sabotaged him. The OP should talk about security at her workplace.

    1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      I am going to be cynical here. I don’t think that these guys get away with it because they are charming psychopaths like in the movies. I think they get away with it because we give men lots of passes on their behavior.

            1. Seacalliope*

              I can’t speak to most, but for Columbine, they were the bullies (or a bully and his follower).

            2. Quill*

              No. The media always reports that they were, but interviews with their peers almost always show that they were constantly trying to push past their boundaries, making threats, or bullying them.

              Your peers not wanting anything to do with you because they’re afraid of you is not bullying.

            3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              It’s not that they’re bullied or are bullies in every case.

              It’s mostly that they’re social outcasts in some fashion, which can often be distorted and believed that they’re bullied. Isolation is dangerous in the end. Either self imposed or peer imposed.

      1. Quill*

        As mentioned in previous threads, bullies bully because they can, which is pretty much the same reason abusers abuse. They can get away with it.

        1. Perpal*

          Heck, they probably benefit from it, at least in the short term. Too short sighted to realize how it costs them.

      2. KHB*

        Can’t it be both? Some abusers are charming psychopaths (or at least in enough control of their behavior to involve as few witnesses as possible) AND so many of the rest of us are conditioned to ignore warning signs that we don’t want to see?

        1. Quill*

          Well, sometimes it is both, but… it really depends on who they bother to be charming to. Most of them have a trail of people they haven’t fooled, and it’s either previous victims, or people who they can get away with treating badly. They’ll be charming to *authorities* most times.

          1. Ilima*

            It can definitely be both. Our society supports many forms of abuse, but don’t forget that most abusers are also master manipulators who have spent years learning how to twist others to get them on their side.

            1. Rainbow Roses*

              Like one of my old teachers who was every student’s buddy. Until the day he showed up on the news.
              I’m well aware the word “charming” can conjure up a character in movies but I’m talking about real people who act normal in public and fly under the radar.
              The guy in the post brought his abuse to the workplace and the hospital. Another abuser knows not to do that and the OP would have never found out.

              1. KHB*

                It’s for exactly that reason that I was a little bit surprised that this situation turned out this way. Not because I’m blissfully unaware of the existence of abuse, but because I would have thought an abuser would be smart enough to at least try to be on his best behavior around his victim’s coworkers (i.e., her most natural support network).

                There’s a line from Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That?”, that really stuck with me. He’s talking about how he often asks the abusive men he counsels, “Why didn’t you do [thing that’s even worse that what they actually did]?” And the men always have a ready answer – the kids were right upstairs, the neighbors might hear, whatever – and never once answered “I don’t know.” Abusers generally aren’t driven by out-of-control rage, and they’re usually calculating enough to at least be mindful of the impression they’re leaving on the people closest to their victims. It’s probably lucky for Jane that Fergus was the exception.

                1. Perpal*

                  It depends on the person; it’s easier to spot but kind of more dangerous when they are this delusional / out of control?

            2. Anonnnnn*

              Yes, I had an abusive ex who was VERY charming. My family loved him, his colleagues loved him, and he made sure to let me know this. He was really good at making me believe that I was the one at fault (like Fergus “forgiving” Jane), and I was the one who would be villainized if I left. It was a slow burn, kind of like someone pushing just a little more everyday to see how much they can get away with until something snaps. Just a little at a time, so you don’t really know what’s happening until you’re a complete mess.

  31. Malilola*

    One of the best updates! I am so happy that she found her own strength and that things are looking up for her!

  32. KR*

    This is a great update and I am absolutely thrilled for Jane that she was able to get a restraining order and get him out of the house. Fergus sounds like a total monster and I hope the divorce proceedings go well. Your company handled this extremely well, in my opinion.

  33. FormerFirstTimer*

    I have been watching for this update! I’m sorry that most commentators were correct in their assumption that there was an abusive situation going on, but I’m so glad that Jane is getting the support she needs and deserves. I’m sorry she lost her baby, but at the same time, I’m relieved that her husband acted the way he did in front of so many witnesses. I think Jane is lucky to work with someone like OP, knowing that she had the support of at least one person probably made a huge difference to Jane. Well done OP!

  34. Ilima*

    Putting in a plug for the book “Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft. If you or anyone you know is in a relationship with a man who is mistreating you, this book will help you.

  35. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    I’m happy that Jane is moving forward and things seem to be working out (mostly), but I really hope your company has some sort of security and that are very aware of who Fergus is and what he is potentially capable of, because unfortunately I wouldn’t put it past him to bust into the building and go after her, or any of you that he blames for his situation.

  36. A Poster Has No Name*

    Jane, if you’re reading this, you’re amazing and strong and I’m so glad to hear you’re getting out.

  37. Not a Blossom*

    OP, thank you for writing in. I thought about this article sometimes and am really glad to hear that Jane is getting out of a bad situation.

  38. Blue Horizon*

    Yikes. It always struck me how Captain Awkward would jump straight to “see to your personal safety” when advising on situations like this. This update is a really clear demonstration of exactly why. Kudos to Team Jane though!

  39. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    Good. LORD.
    Everyone in this except Fergus is a damn rock star. Jane is seeking out the legal help she needs, and it’s being provided; the company has her back in supporting her getting away from this creep; the OP handled everything well and is being actively supportive.
    If you look up the word “strong” in the dictionary, the definition contains Jane’s picture.
    Also, please pardon my language, but Fergus can eat a d!ck. What a baby.

  40. Siege*

    I just want to say I think you are handling this amazingly! It sounds like you’re able to be supportive of Jane while advocating for your own needs, something I’m not sure I could pull off. I’m sorry you guys are going through this, and I wish you safety and luck going forward!

  41. Old Admin*

    I haven’t read all the comments, but it bears repeating anyway:

    Alison, you said an important thing in your original answer!!:
    “This is one where you shouldn’t mind your own business. Talk to Jane and then, if your sense is that she needs help, talk to someone else too.”

    You may have saved a life with this. Thank you many times for your clear answer.

    (And Jane needs to remain very, very cautious. This is not over yet.)

    1. Alice's Rabbit*

      So does OP. Fergus can easily find out who she is, and might irrationally blame her for losing his job, wife, children, etc.
      OP, check your doors and windows to make sure they’re not easy access points. A home security system wouldn’t go amiss, either. And, as scary as it may sound, you need to take some personal defense courses and carry whatever is legal in your area that you can use well. Same goes for Jane. This isn’t the sort of guy who goes away quietly. And if he does get in, you have seconds to respond, but it will take minutes – at least – for the cops to arrive.
      I sincerely hope such preparations are never put to the test, but they are necessary.

  42. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    This is a terrifying update. I’m glad that despite the terror, actions were still taken by the OP and the company as a whole. But I’m seriously shivering that it’s not over for Jane and it honestly will probably never be over.

  43. RadManCF*

    Law student here. I hope for Jane’s sake that the phrase “their shared home” means that her name is on the title or lease. From my experience clerking in the Public Defender’s office in MN, in situations where a No-Contact order is issued (there are several different flavors here), and the protected party shares a residence with the target of the order, and the protected party is not on the title or lease, then the courts are perfectly fine with the target of the order booting the protected party from the property. This is viewed as a legitimate exercise of the target’s property rights, as in such a case, the protected party was basically a guest.
    Fergus sounds pretty stupid, which was typical of the clients I dealt with. Much is said here about how abusers are often charming and good at hiding their activities (their hobby IMO); I only came across one person who was accused of DV that could have fit that profile. Most of the DV defendants I met seemed to be pretty stupid, and seemed to have been caught wile engaging in loud fights. Granted, my experience is probably skewed, because I dealt mostly with bail arguments for clients having their first appearance while in custody. I never dealt with clients who were charged by summons.

    1. lobsterp0t*

      It depends on jurisdiction. By contrast, I have seen courts here (UK) rule that the perpetrator has to leave for the duration of the order if it is seen to be in the interests of the children and/or if the victim is ruled to have a legitimate interest in the property (our DA laws cover financial abuse and coercive control).

      1. RadManCF*

        From what little I know of UK law, that makes sense. The takings clause of the constitution is the main factor here. I don’t know how UK law deals with the taking of private property by the government, but I have the impression that the UK government has much more leeway to do so. I found myself binge watching nuclear war films during a recent illness, and one in particular, BBC’s The War Game, a documentary from 1966, discussed how evacuees from urban areas would be billeted in private homes, over the objections of the homeowners, who were also responsible for feeding the billeted persons. This leaves me with the impression that UK law allows for the taking of private property by the government without compensation, but correct me if I’m wrong. Also, I’m curious about what would constitute a “legitimate interest in the property.” It sounds like it could be more than just an ownership interest?

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          It’s the difference between being a citizen and being a subject. Citizens own their own property and can tell the government to step off, except when they are in clear violation of the law. Due process is necessary.

        2. MsSolo*

          You can develop legitimate interest if you’ve been paying towards the mortgage without being on the paperwork – it’s designed to protect partners who play a significant role in maintaining the property on behalf of the owner e.g. if you move in with someone who already owns their home, and then split the bills, if you split up and sell the house you can claim a portion of the proceeds based on your contributions over the years.

          I think the government does have to compensate you if they require your property for something – it usually comes up these days in the context of building HS2, the new high speed railway from North to South that nobody asked for – but I’m not sure that applies on a war footing. During WW2 households in the countryside had to take in children from at risk cities, and though they obviously got more rations in order to feed them, I don’t know that they got any additional support. I might go look that up now.

          (It’s never occured to me before that for people in the US evacuation isn’t a huge part of the narrative around WW2, the way it is for a lot of European countries, but of course you weren’t getting bombed nightly! It’s really worth looking into if you don’t know much about it – it made huge changes to the way urban and rural populations perceived each other and gave a lot of impoverished urban kids access to food, exercise and education they’d never had before, the impact of which gave such a strong argument for establishing the welfare state)

          1. RadManCF*

            I’d figure lower population density is another major factor, in addition to the logistical problems mass evacuation would pose. However, until ICBMs came of age, some cities did have evacuation plans, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPy6EhKg2vw.
            The aforementioned binge watching really drove home for me how vulnerable you guys were during the cold war; I found myself on Google Earth plotting bomb-affected areas the MSP metro area, and comparing that to the scenario from Threads, while also reading summaries of the academic literature on firestorms. It was sobering, to say the least.

    2. Jubilance*

      MN is a community property state, so if they bought their home while they were married, both of their names are on the deed. That’s even if the mortgage is in his name only.

      1. RadManCF*

        MN is not a community property state. WI is though. MN practices equitable distribution. Also, in my experience, in issuing no-contact orders, all that matters is whose name is on the title or lease. Whether the property in question is marital or non-marital doesn’t matter. The MN statutes governing no-contact orders explicitly state that the existence of such an order makes no change to the title.

  44. jiminy_cricket*

    This is a horrifying update, but I’m so glad that Jane and her family (and you!) are safe. I hope they continue to be so. Fergus sounds incredibly dangerous.

  45. Dagny*

    I’m so glad that the OP was able to help Jane, and so glad that Jane did not go back to her abusive ex. OP, you did help Jane a lot; it is important to hear someone say that they are willing to take flak over this, and that the ex is the problem, not her. Part of abuse and control is to convince the person that they are a burden and a drag on people around them.

    Tying this in with an earlier letter from today, i.e. the man whose wife didn’t want their company to post a picture online of the family: people like Fergus are why people like that letter-writer don’t put up family pictures online. Can you imagine if Jane remarries and a company asks her new husband to post a picture online of him, Jane, the kids, and any new kids??

  46. Koala dreams*

    I’m sad that the situation turned out to be so dangerous, and hopeful to read that your company is rid of the abusive stalker. Take care of yourself and stay safe, OP! Happy Holidays!

  47. Perpal*

    Uhhg. I’m so glad Jane was able to finalize her divorce and that the systems are reacting to protect her, and that Fergus outed himself in front of everyone (though that does show a frightening lack of control).
    Very sad though, I don’t know / want to know the medical details here but that level of stress could contribute to a miscarriage.

  48. Elan Morin Tedronai*

    > So Fergus has no job, cannot live in their shared home, he doesn’t seek visitation because he can’t bully Jane without her there to witness it, and he will be divorced soon too. Jane is cautiously optimistic about the future and we are thrilled to have her back at work and on great form. We are worried that he may retaliate in some way after his life has exploded like this, but you can’t live your life in fear and we’re hoping to move on. Jane and I have a great working relationship and I can’t thank you all enough for encouraging me to speak to Jane again and get to the root of the problem before Fergus caused even more grief.

    It couldn’t have happened to better people. Merry Christmas, OP. Hope this marks the start of a better year.

  49. Dragon_Dreamer*

    Glad Jane’s getting a fresh start, though hopefully Fergus will actually obey the restraining order. I left my first ex-boyfriend over 20 years ago, and despite his getting married to the woman he cheated on me with, AND has a kid, he *still* thinks he can win me back. 9.9

    Every so often, he’ll contact me, begging me to go out with him again. Not. Happening. He doesn’t seem to get the hint that no matter how many accounts he creates or numbers he calls from, I’ll continue to ignore him, and let the police know he’s violated the restraining order. Again. 9.9

  50. Ted Mosby*

    Sooo the company found out he was abusive/frightening you by trying to contact Jane and instead of firing him immediately they suspended him because that’s not a productive use of company time??

    1. Alice's Rabbit*

      They gave him a chance to remove his cranium from his rectum. Alison often speaks of the need to give employees a chance to correct their mistakes.

  51. Needing chocolate.*

    Those women need to be walked to their cars for awhile, and the manager needs to buy a gun. Otherwise we could be hearing about him killing her and the kids.

  52. SnapCrackleSloth*

    Having been in Jane’s shoes, thank you for how you handled this. I’m sure your support means the world to her.

  53. yala*

    I hope I’m not out of line suggesting this, but I think this particular letter could benefit from being behind a content warning, or at least having a warning for abusive relationships/stalking at the top.

    Poor Jane. I’m glad she’s getting out, and I hope she keeps herself and her kids safe.

  54. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    This has to be the weirdest – and quite likely best – application of the policy against “misuse of company resources” that I’ve ever heard of.

    “You used your company phone to call another company phone and impact the productivity of somebody working in another department. You’re fired.”

  55. VALCSW*

    The company, letter-writer & Jane have done everything right. Bravo to all of you & here’s to a peaceful 2020. You’ve all earned it!

  56. Friendly Comp Manager*

    This update legitimately made me cry – out of compassion for Jane, and also the way OP handled the situation and is supportive of her.

    I truly hope for the best possible outcome for Jane.

  57. Former Employee*

    Everyone involved should read “The Gift of Fear”.

    As others have pointed out, this is a dangerous time for Jane and potentially for anyone who is seen as being on her side, from the OP to people in HR and in other positions of power at the company.

Comments are closed.