update: my ex-boyfriend is threatening to tell my new job I made adult videos

This is an update to a letter I never published.

Last summer, I received a letter from someone who had just been hired for a new job that she was really excited about. But her abusive ex found out about it and was threatening to tell the new job that she had made adult videos in the past, as a way to hurt her or force her to talk to him. She wrote to me, “I’m not ashamed of what I did in the past. What’s done is done, and I can’t undo it. But I am worried that my ex will send this to my new job, to blackmail me, and that if doing porn doesn’t make them pull my offer, seeing the potential for drama will.”

We exchanged several emails at the time. and here’s her update now (printed with her permission).

So, my abusive ex boyfriend was calling my new workplace and was threatening to send my boss “adult videos” of me. I had just started this new job and it was allowing me to move out from this ex’s house, and therefore his control, which he did not like.

Without going into details, I told my boss that the man calling for me was someone I did not want to have contact with and he was threatening to send emails to the firm partners of my private videos. She understood the subtext, and reacted super well.

She immediately blocked his number on our work phones. She also told me that if it would make me feel better, I could send his email addresses to our IT people to block, but that any email with a link or files attached would get caught in our very strict spam filter. I did end up doing that, for my peace of mind, though I realized that he would probably send the emails from a burner account instead of his actual emails. I blocked him on all social media, email, phone, etc. I also got the police involved finally, and while they couldn’t actually do anything to help me at that time, they walked me through what the process of getting a restraining order would be. I also, at the request of my boss, gave my office building security a picture of my ex, as an extra precaution. My boss also said that if it became necessary, the firm would help me with any legal issues that came up.

I told my ex, in no uncertain terms, that if he contacted my workplace again, I would get law enforcement involved, I would press charges for assault from a previous altercation, and then I blocked him from everything so he couldn’t contact me, and locked down all my security settings, etc. I’m still cautious when I see people on the street who could be my ex, but I heard through the grapevine that he’s been working on a job site on the opposite coast, is dating someone new, and that he bought a house several hours away from where we used to live, so the odds of us ever seeing each other again are very low. My office building and apartment building are also quite secure (and very close to the police station), which helps my peace of mind.

It’s now been almost 5 months since I last heard from him, 7 months since I moved out, and 12 months since we broke up. I am in a (very new) relationship with someone who treats me well, I have great pets and a beautiful apartment, and I love my job. It’s boring at times, but I love the people I work for, and know that they support me and trust me. I’m thriving, even during this pandemic.

Thank you for everything you do. Your blog is the reason I got the job I did, and I’m forever grateful for you. It’s a great community and an incredible resource.

{ 174 comments… read them below }

    1. allathian*

      Yes, indeed!
      I’m also very happy that it seems like the ex has also moved on with his life. He’s thousands of miles away and apparently in a new relationship. I just hope he treats her better than he treated you, but that’s perhaps too much to ask.
      I wish more employers would behave the way yours did. It should be the norm, but sadly it isn’t.

      1. Sharikacat*

        Happy for the ex insofar as it means he’s seemingly no longer willing to pursue his revenge porn scheme. He still deserves a heap of bad things to fall upon him, but if he’s at least let this one go, then I suppose it can be considered a win.

        The employer did everything right to protect the employee, and that’s truly great news.

  1. HMM*

    I am so incredibly glad you are out of that situation. Kudos to you and your strength to navigate this with confidence and grace. You deserved more and you got it!!!!

  2. Long-time reader*

    Love this! Thanks for sharing. I hope OP continues with her awesome new life!

  3. Mama Bear*

    I’m glad for this update – not only that the ex left OP alone but that the company had her back as well.

  4. N. Phillips*

    This is the proper way for a manager and company to react. As a domestic violence victim advocate I’ve seen so many companies make the wrong choices when it come to survivors. This makes my heart so happy.

  5. MicroManagered*

    I think it’s really amazing that you answer so many letters that you never even publish. You answered one for me years ago. I think you replied within a day or so, even though the question wasn’t publication-worthy. I think that’s remarkable considering how many you must get. :)

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Same, I have a long chain from 2012 and I m so appreciative of the time spent in answering my messages.

    2. Sara M*

      She once gave me a private answer to an extremely odd and very specific question and I was so grateful for her help! Thank you, Alison!

      I think my question wouldn’t have been very helpful for anyone else to see, and I needed an answer really fast. So it made sense.

    3. Jiya*

      Same – I got a very sensible answer for a question that was about 80% me being whiney.

    4. Liz*

      Yes! Alison once answered one for me, too — in just a couple of sentences, she validated my sense that my workplace was a bit off, and confirmed my feeling that the best solution was to move on. Such a small thing, but so helpful and generous!

  6. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    What a fantastic sort-of update! Thanks Alison for sharing this.

    OP, your boss sounds AMAZING. Wishing you a long, interesting and fruitful career with this great company.

  7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I’m so relieved that your workplace response was exceptional and as it should be. And that it’s all worked out for you.

    I wish someone would act like I give a damn about people doing perfectly legal stuff in their past. But in reality “lol okay what’s your point” isn’t the best response to an abuser turned stalker. So I truly appreciate the insta-lockdown and ice him out approach your firm took!

    Glad you’re safe now and even more so that you’re happy.

  8. Blueberry*

    Oh my goodness, my eyes hurt with relieved tears. OP, I am so glad for you for every part of this, starting from your courage in getting yourself out and Alison’s reliably excellent advice.

    1. Alice*

      I’ve got the happy tears here, too! So happy for you OP! Cheers to many more years of occasional boredom, but great happiness and safety! :)

      1. Quill*

        The dust in here is terrible, when’s the last time anyone vaccumed the comments section?

    1. old curmudgeon*

      Allergies. Those darned trees are dropping pollen all over. That’s it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah. Really.
      OP, I am sure my relief is no where near what yours is, but please know that I am so very happy for you.

      And Alison, all these folks who you have helped through email directly… I am awed. These people’s lives could have played out a lot differently and perhaps for the worse had you not been there to help.
      It’s a privilege to read your blog every day.

  9. CatCat*

    OP, I am so glad you are safe! Your company is a model of handling the matter with care and support.

    1. Wheee!*

      Yes! Your manager handled this the way every company should, and I’m so glad you’re ok.

  10. Ted Mosby*

    I’m amazing there are so many horrible people out there that still try to use this as blackmail. I’m in my early 30s and at least half my friends have photos or videos like this (for reference most are very successful white collar employees who’s wild days are 95% behind them). As a people manager I cannot imagine what any ding-dong thinks I’d do with this information. I’m obviously not going to watch a video to verify who’s in it, so even if I cared at all, which I don’t, it’s not a credible threat. In this day and age it feels almost like calling someone to tell them their employee isn’t a virgin. Not info I needed, not info I care about, not super surprising.

    I’m so happy you landed at a supportive company that did all the right things OP! Best of luck to you. And to anyone else who finds themselves in this situation, please know it’s not your fault, sane people won’t judge you for being abused by an abuser, and help is out there.

    1. MicroManagered*

      I agree with you 100%… I got the sense from the letter that the OP had done adult entertainment professionally which I think changes the stakes a bit. An employer might have a different reaction to “my abusive ex wants to blackmail me by sending you private nudes I took for him” vs. “my abusive ex wants to out me as someone who used to do sex work.” Many people judge the second one more harshly than the first one. (When they should really not judge either one, IMO, who cares?)

      1. OP Anon*

        I did indeed do it semi-professionally. I was an “amateur” in that the videos were homemade, not through a studio, but I made money doing it. I have no regrets, and a good number of people in my life know I did it.

        Now, for safety reasons, the content is all offline, but I’m okay if it comes up in the future. Especially now that I have a strong track record at my job. I just didn’t want to start off my new job on a controversial note—though now that I’ve been here for a while, I don’t think anyone would care, and it wouldn’t really harm my reputation in my very liberal metropolitan area. But I knew when I made the videos that there was a non-zero chance of it coming up in the future, and I decided that it was a risk I was willing to take.

        1. MicroManagered*

          For the record, I think it’s a damn shame that we live in such a prudish society that this is even a thing. And I also firmly believe that many, if not most, people who would judge you for it consume adult content themselves and are not only prudes, but hypocrites. :)

      2. emmelemm*

        Yeah, there’s definitely a disconnect between the two (“private/revenge nudes” vs. “professional sexy sex”) that there shouldn’t be, but that’s the way it is at the moment.

        It’s good that OP’s company basically took a bright line and said “someone trying to get revenge/blackmail an employee makes them the bad person, not our employee”.

        1. AnEngineer*

          There’s a difference between sharing private nudes (most likely illegal revenge-porn type situations) and linking to stuff online (being a jerk).

          1. JSPA*

            If it’s video that she’s removed from the internet, I believe it would still fall under “revenge porn” to bring it to the attention of her workplace.

            If it’s done to harass, intimidate, blackmail and manipulate, those can be criminal acts in their own right, as well. (This should make intuitive sense: for example, blackmail is broadly illegal. “Having been in a relationship” does not magically negate that.)

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            I don’t see a difference at all. Someone who sends private nudes in a revenge porn situation is a jerk, there’s no way you can argue that they’re not.

    2. Batty Twerp*

      I’m not sure I understand the logic either, unless there was a planned second step that wasn’t made clear – as in “I’ll send this video to your boss so they know it exists, and then link your mucky video to the company so *their* reputation gets smeared…?”
      I feel yukky even trying to get into the mind set of these ding-dongs (thank you!) and I am very happy OP has received the best and appropriate support and did everything right to get this idiot out of your life.

      1. Washi*

        We actually had this happen at a nonprofit I worked for. An employee’s ex hacked into her email and sent explicit material to the parents of the kids she worked with. It it didn’t reflect poorly on her, the parents were actually very understanding when we explained what happened, and we all had so much sympathy for her, but it was a huge mess and she was a wreck, so it “worked” as far as inflicting emotional damage :(

        I’m so happy for the OP that she was able to shut it down and get a different outcome.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          I am so sorry for your colleague, but SO HAPPY to hear that your company and the parents you served handled this so maturely! I hope it points to a brighter future where victims of this type of shaming are not stigmatized.

      2. Legal Beagle*

        Teachers have gotten fired for taking *private* nude photos that were then leaked by an abusive ex, so it’s not a crazy leap to think that this could easily cost someone their job in a more conservative field.

        1. Batgirl*

          As a teacher, I acknowledge the fall out of students seeing things, especially in a rough school, is a bit different to a workpkace with adults who can be held to a professional standard. However I think we should start supporting people even in hard situations like that. What message is a kid supposed to take away if he misbehaves but it’s a teacher who gets fired for revenge porn?

          1. Quill*

            The same message that gets sent if teachers are fired for someone else tagging them in a photo where alcohol is present, but not for hate speech or bullying students. Kids are at the bottom of the pecking order, but adult mostly-women who teach are barely above that. Concerned Parent Organization Of The Month is about reinforcing the fact that their community polices everyone’s behavior, not about actual, provable risks to children.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Yeah, If I got an email trying to rat out one of my employees, there is very little I would care about. If the email didn’t start with “Your employee worked for me and stole $1M from the company,” then I wouldn’t keep reading the email. If it doesn’t directly pertain to the work you do, then I don’t care about it. And I hope all my co-workers keep their gossip blockers on as well.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I know. Didn’t we have a letter recently about someone calling their current spouse’s boss to fix a problem at work? If the employer is not going to listen to a spouse, then an ex is really not getting the time of day. Give me something that is truly a problem — not your current did porn when she was younger and people wanted to see what she looked like naked. I would laugh so hard as I was hitting delete.

        But incredible kudos to the boss for not just taking this step but shutting the guy out completely. An abuser hates not being in control. The boss showed he had so very very very little control.

        But OP, I understand your mindset. It’s okay to think that way, no matter how small the chances are you will run into him.

    4. LifeBeforeCorona*

      This is good to read on a cold miserable Monday! I have no interest in anyone’s video past because it’s very easy to be tricked or coerced into something. A co-worker had an ex threaten to do this and everyone in their circle told him he was a POS and dropped him. He was very surprised when he had a hard time finding anyone to date him.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          And I’m not surprised he was shocked at those consequences either. So many bullies and abusers seem to believe that the whole world owes them and that there will never be consequences for them.

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            I know! Most women aren’t going to look upon a guy who tries revenge porn as a trustworthy partner.

    5. hbc*

      There are definitely still people out there who think in black and white, and that participation in porn=bad, so that makes you a bad person. There are a lot more people who are uncomfortable with it because they grew up around that kind of belief, and though they would say that there’s no reason it’s a problem, they would probably come up with some excuse for why it would affect their choices. (See: “What will [theoretical, vague] conservative clients do?”)

      But I think you’re right that a lot of…old-fashioned people haven’t caught on to the idea that a lot of the stuff that was private in the past has become a lot more exposed. Not that *everyone* has naked images floating about on the web, but enough people do that it’s hard to be scandalized by it. Kind of like how tattoos used to be read as a signal of unprofessionalism, and now it’s mostly a non-issue.

      1. OP Anon*

        I actually also have a lot of tattoos. And a lot of piercings (though I take most of them out at work, but I do keep my nose ring in.)

        But the times are rapidly changing. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have some naked pictures of them somewhere, and I think that within the next few years, it will really be a non-issue for most people.

        1. Quill*

          It was pretty much inevitable as soon as you linked up “decent camera that’s part of everyone’s basic daily equipment” and “internet connection suitable for sending image files.”

    6. Batgirl*

      I reread “Why Does He Do That?” recently by a specialist who worked with abusive men for years. The author Lundy Bancroft says these types of guys do actually think it’s still the 1950s and they can play the double standard to their advantage; that other people will care as much as they do. The author says something like “They’ve grown up all their lives believing that a woman is their possession, like an inheritance of land and they get annoyed by other people behaving like trespassers, who act as though the land is public and free for them to interact with”.
      They also hope the woman will be cowed by shame enough to buckle to unreasonable demands. One guy berated his wife for getting into an elevator with a man and in his view, “having sex with a stranger”. The author knew him to be secretly well self controlled and logical, and so he pulled him on that saying there’s no way he could have logically believed they had a two minute encounter between three floors. The guy admitted he didn’t actually think so; it was just using the idea as a pressure technique.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Pressure technique. I guess if that is all the skills you have then you go with that? For example, he could be nice, caring, giving or thoughtful of others, you know, that type of thing. But if you can’t do these Basic Life Skills then I guess that leaves pressure techniques.

        “I use pressure techniques because I basically have no life or people skills.”

        1. kt*

          But some of them *do* have life & people skills. Popular, well-respected, well-known in their field…. They just like what they get from being coercive and abusive.

          1. Quill*

            It’s likely that they only use their people and life skills when they don’t have the shortcut of “I can be coercive and abusive and definitely get away with it” to lighten their effort load.

  11. Volunteer Enforcer*

    Definitely got the warm fuzzies reading this resolution, onto bigger and better things OP! Enjoy it.

  12. cacwgrl*

    This is what I needed on this Monday morning which has rapidly become a MONDAY all caps kind of day!

  13. Hills to Die on*

    He was a bully and a coward. I’m so glad you are free and you are working at a place that helped protect you.

    1. JM in England*

      It’s a shame that the OP couldn’t warn her ex’s new partner about what he’s like…

      1. Rainy*

        Given the lengths he’d already gone to, she would probably be endangering her safety to do so.

      2. Anon OP*

        OP here- The messed up thing is he openly talks about his past abuse of partners, and his friend group all knows about it. It’s not even a missing stair, it’s a missing staircase at this point.

        So, his new partner probably already knows. And they’ll think, just like I did, and everyone in his past, that he’s changed and he won’t hurt them. He is a very charming man.

        But also, I don’t want to reach out, for a few reasons. One, my own safety. I don’t want to have any possible routes of communication between me and my ex, or to get his attention back on me. Two, their safety. I’m worried that if I reach out, it’ll anger my ex and cause harm to the new partner. And three, they probably won’t believe me. I wouldn’t have believed it if any of his exes reached out to me. He’s very good at explaining how his past relationships were toxic from both sides, how he’s been hurt by them as much as he’s hurt them, etc etc.

        Though, towards the end, I actually reached out to one of his exes. She and I are still in contact on occasion. She helped me break through the gaslighting and pointed out that he’s doing the exact same things to me and he did to her. If his new partner reached out to me, I’d definitely respond and try to help them. But I don’t think me reaching out would end well.

        1. OrigCassandra*

          I think your reasoning here is sound, OP. A shame that this dude is likely to continue his swathe of destruction, but stopping it is not in your remit.

        2. Kimmy Schmidt*

          Thank you for sharing your story OP, and for responding to the comments.

          Your letter made me tear up, and I am so happy for all your newfound success and stability.

        3. Jules the 3rd*

          Yep, you’re 100% right.

          I’ve taken to using ‘charming’ as a warning signal, after my last encounter with an abuser.

        4. Observer*

          I agree with you that you should not reach out. But I’ll point out that his new GF’s safety is not the reason. Think about it – your ex abused you because he was abusive, not because you did anything wrong or in relation to anything any of his exes did. The same dynamic is sure at play here. Unless a miracle happens and he really does change, he’s going to wind up abusing her because that’s who he is.

          I hope you’ve dumped the friend group. The fact that he talks about this and the group hasn’t distanced themselves speaks volumes.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Good point about the friend group.
            I knew of a situation where a teen abused an animal. His entire friend group (immediate friends) went to the police and reported his actions. Then the teens crossed him off of their list. The police arrested him and the story goes from there. But yeah, why do all his friends put up with these stories?

            You know, sometimes we have to say to our friends, “I don’t want to listen to x.” In tamer situations I have seen friends get a person to stop doing what it was they were doing simply because the friends said, “Do what you want, but don’t tell me about it.”

        5. Quill*

          OP, don’t risk yourself. His friend group are enablers and they’re forming some weird web to trap the new partner in. You’ll have to wait until new partner gets suspicious and sneaky enough to view you as a resource for dealing with him or figuring out why he does that, not as competition for his attention and probably lying.

          (Did the same thing for… years, but without the romance given that we were in middle school. Thank god I didn’t meet that creep after puberty, they start being coercive assholes early.)

        6. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I escaped from an abusive relationship many years ago, and for a long time I felt really dreadful that I wasn’t making an effort to contact and warn anyone that my ex got together with after me. Nowadays I don’t because I know that if I hadn’t got totally away from his life I’d have been in a much worse state mentally. I still want absolutely nothing to do with that guy.

          I just wanted to give you a virtual cup of tea, a big thumbs up and massive amounts of respect because you sound like a very very strong person to have got through this. You’re amazing.

      3. It's me*

        I’m guessing you’ve never been in an abusive relationship, but there are many reasons not to that might not be obvious if you haven’t been in this situation yourself. Safety of yourself, safety of the new partner, the new person possibly wouldn’t believe you because the abuser surely would explain it away (could call you the crazy one, etc.). Abusive people are very good at this stuff! Sometimes it’s easiest to just break free and not look back. Hope this sheds some light on why OP possibly did not warn the new partner.

      4. Batgirl*

        People don’t take messages from their romantic partners exes any more than bosses do!

      5. Morticia*

        I don’t think that trick ever works. Abusers usually inoculate new targets by telling them about their “abusive exes”. The metaphor of the frog in boiling water works here. While a real frog will jump out when the water gets too hot, subjects of abuse generally don’t notice until the water is actively scalding, and frequently not until the point where they’re too injured to jump out.

      6. AKchic*

        There are abusers who openly talk about abuse they’ve perpetrated and act like they are “enlightened” or have “justifiable reasons” for doing what they did.

        Heavy trigger warnings: Abuse, “self harm”, child abuse,
        Example: “I hit her because she was beating our infant son” or “I physically restrained her because she was trying to self-harm”
        Truths to the lies: she had the infant son and was trying to leave the house and he beat her into submission; he physically restrained her because after beating her, she pulled a knife on him and he sat on her and took it from her.

        Both of these things were said about my 1st ex-husband’s first son’s mother. He openly said them in court to win custody of his child. He later admitted to friends that he lied and there were no witnesses and because she was already considered “crazy”, no judge was going to believe her. In his words, she was “just a messed up, crazy abused girl”.
        He figured that tactic worked once, so he kept trying it with each subsequent ex, with varying degrees of success. Alaska’s court system sucks, but he never got custody of his other kids. He had multiple restraining orders against him, which is saying something considering how hard it is to actually get restraining orders against your abusers up here.

        But if you ask him – he was 100% justified in everything he has ever done and all of the women in his life are evil, abusive, and conspiring against him. We all set him up to fail. Individually, collectively, and collaboratively.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          And yet the common thread through all the stories is HIM. hmmm.
          I am glad you are away from that.

  14. Elbe*

    I’m so happy for the OP! I’m so happy that her boss took this seriously, and that the company is run well enough to be able to put measures in place to help people in this position.

  15. Rainy*

    Such a fantastic update. I’m so glad that OP’s boss and new workplace were responsive and supportive, and I’m glad she got away from her horrible ex. Good job, OP, may you continue to prosper.

  16. FormerFirstTimer*

    Well done! I know how scary it can be leaving a situation like that, it takes a lot of backbone.

  17. HannahS*

    Good for you! Thanks for sharing your news with us. You’ve done a brave and wonderful thing.

  18. Phony Genius*

    Is there any way the boss could have said to him “do not contact this office again,” and then press charges against him if he continued to do so from another phone? Maybe in some way that the OP wouldn’t even have to be involved? (Think of it as the company being harassed.)

    1. OP Anon*

      Probably not. He wasn’t really doing anything “wrong.” He just kept calling and asking to talk to me, very politely. Mostly as a way of reminding me that he knew where I worked, and therefore he knew where I was. If he was rude or inappropriate on the phone, there might be something there. But it’s very unlikely.

      1. It's mce w*

        I understand. At my job, an ex-colleague has/had a stalker that would call the museum asking for her or show up. Management understood the dangers and didn’t give out any details.

      2. Quill*

        Yeah, these people are good at reminding you that they’re still there, waiting like some sort of trapdoor spider, in ways that won’t be identified by outside parties.

    2. Artemesia*

      The idea that you can ‘press charges’ against someone for bugging you is fantasy. The police are not interested in this sort of thing. ‘Harassment’ for the most part, with a few exceptions is not really illegal per se.

  19. TootsNYC*

    This is the kind of thing that your safest escape route is the one with the least drama; a court case is not what you need.

    But that threat is itself probably a crime. This has led me down a rabbit hole of trying to find out if there must be a demand for money, or some other “consideration” or “thing of value” for it to be a crime. But “your attention” might be a crime.

    I’m glad you’re out; glad your boss reacted promptly and effectively.
    Let us all vow to be like here.

    Have a happy life!

    1. OP Anon*

      It would be difficult to pursue legal action for threatening to send my videos to my employer because they weren’t private videos—they were public ally posted and I made money off of them.

  20. OrigCassandra*

    Oh, OP. I am so sorry you went through that, and so glad you’re out of it and the future looks brighter.

  21. KimberlyR*

    OP, I’m proud of you for having the courage to do what was necessary to free yourself from this asshole! And I’m happy that your company was so proactive in helping you feel safe and not caving to the spector of drama. This is an amazing update!

  22. AndersonDarling*

    I’m starting to feel like businesses are growing up. It may be that I started in some really toxic companies and have been lucky enough to find better companies, but it seems like there are more and more stories about companies doing the right thing. More companies are filtering out drama, staying focused, and going out of their way to support their employees.

  23. MechanicalPencil*

    I have been in an incredibly similar situation, so I’m so relieved that you’re doing so much better now.

    I will say, the extra vigilance is something that will likely stick around for a while. If you haven’t already, I’d see if you could start therapy somewhere. I went to some group therapy sessions at a local domestic violence shelter that were incredibly helpful in that I know I’m not alone in having an awful life experience.

    1. OP Anon*

      I am in therapy, and it’s very helpful. My relationship norms got very skewed, and therapy has been instrumental to me readjusting to healthy situations, and re-learning healthy reactions to things. I was very much in “fight or flight” mode for a long time, and so adjusting to safety and happiness took some time and effort. I don’t think the twinge of fear will ever really go away, but I’ve also learned how to trust myself and my gut again. It’s going to be a long journey, and I’m not done yet, but I’m on a good path.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        Post-abuse PTSD is a huge and often unacknowledged issue. My elder kid, in a wonderful, healthy, loving relationship four over four years now, still struggles with the residual PTSD caused by living with her abusive ex. So keep up the good work with therapy, and possibly consider exploring treatment modalities specifically geared to resolving PTSD. And huge BRAVOS to you for your strength and fine insights!

  24. DarkMatter*

    I am glad that this worked out for the OP. But I think the OP misrepresented the issue to her boss by saying “private videos” as to indicate it was private videos/revenge porn as opposed to regular porn. These are vastly different things and could be viewed as such by the boss. It feels manipulative in some way.

    1. OP Anon*

      Well, I didn’t exactly put “paid my bills by making porn” on my resume, and the videos aren’t under my real name, so I don’t think it was manipulative. He also did have access to private videos that weren’t published, if that changes your opinion.

      But honestly, the bigger issue was that my abuser was calling my workplace and trying to force me to stay in contact with him, rather than the specific threat itself. And my workplace responded to this by preventing him from being able to contact me through my work.

      Regardless of what he was saying or threatening, the point was that my workplace helped me cut my abuser off. That’s what I want the takeaway to be. A good workplace supports its employees, and takes abuse seriously. They should react the same way, whether he’s sending flowers, private, or public videos.

      1. Blueberry*

        OP, you are absolutely in the right. I don’t think you need to pay any mind to this pearl-clutcher.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Can you articulate why you think the manager should view one differently than the other? I think if you try to do that, you’ll see why this comment is truly horrible.

      1. Important Moi*

        I agree with you completely. I even asked DarkMatter directly.

        Some well meaning folks responded to me further down, but really I wanted DarkMatter to respond. For the record I know the difference.

    3. c-*

      Well, either way, the abuser had no business whatsoever sending porn to a person he’d never met, at their work. The boss didn’t need details about whether it was private or amateur porn, she needed the information that the abuser was a dangerous person trying to make trouble for her coworker and her business, so she could act accordingly.
      I don’t think being discreet is the same as being manipulative, and I don’t think the OP should feel bad at all about protecting herself.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        That’s a good point. Whether they were trying to be manipulative or not, sending anyone unsolicited pornographic or sexual material is NOT OK. It’s good that some places (such as the state I live in) have made it illegal. “Electronic transmission of sexually explicit images or video is considered a Class C misdemeanor, resulting in a fine of up to $550.” Hopefully more places follow suit.

        You’re right that the OP shouldn’t feel bad protecting herself or her coworkers and company. Her abuser was threatening to commit a crime against people in order to control her. I’m so glad there’s been a good outcome for the OP. Her company supported her and proved that they care about their employees. Well done.

    4. Mary*

      This is because women doing sexwork area stigmatised and it isn’t safe to be truthful. You cannot blame OP for the omission of information when it’s dangerous to be fully frank. She’s under no obligation to put herself at risk.

    5. Important Moi*

      What is the difference between private videos/revenge porn as opposed to regular porn?

      1. The Rural Juror*

        The biggest defining factor is permission to distribute.

        The term “revenge porn” has been used to cover an array of different situations. In most situations it means that the distribution of the material is meant to cause distress or embarrassment of the subject. If the OP’s ex was distributing legal pornographic material (meaning it was produced with the subject’s knowledge/permission and was originally meant for public distribution), then that itself is not illegal (as long as they’re not infringing on copyright). What makes it fall into the revenge porn category is that the ex was trying to use the material to cause distress, embarrassment, and damage to the OP’s employment.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        In a different circumstance than this (such as the videos still being online and generally available, and being posted under the employee’s real name) the difference would be one of agreement that they could be shared according to the terms of wherever it was they were posted.

        For a non-porn example, I do not give out people’s email addresses or phone numbers if someone asks me for them. However, if that person has, say, a public website where they post that email address or phone number, or has them printed on the side of their truck (as a landscaper might with their business contact info), then I assume they don’t mind me passing it on to interested parties because they chose to make it available to the public.

        Porn is different because of the social stigma, and this situation is very different because the OP was taking reasonable steps to try and keep the two unlinked (and because the ex was specifically being inappropriately controlling by threatening the OP with the reveal of information, regardless of what type – that’s not ok even if it is publicly available info because of the overall intent), but in a broader sense there’s a difference between passing along something that the original person has already published widely and disclosing something shared with you in confidence.

        1. TootsNYC*

          also–remember that the porn would have been copyright protected, and I’m certain there would be an agreement to NOT duplicate and distribute it beyond that venue.
          It was not intended to be viewed by non-paying customers so…

          If I had to pay to join a club, and there was contact info posted on the club’s website, I would never distribute that info beyond that club. I wouldn’t just copy and and email it to someone I knew who was job hunting, etc.

      3. Honor Harrington*


        In regular porn, the actors consent to be there, and consent for their work to be seen by others.

        In revenge porn, they do not consent to have the work seen by others. They may not even have consented to have it videoed.

        1. Ellie*

          I don’t want to be sent any porn, illegal or otherwise. I also don’t want some ex using me to blackmail one of my employees. It doesn’t make any difference to me if it was a career or a one time thing, or completely private, I wouldn’t want to know the details. The OP and the business handled it in the best, most professional way possible.

          I do wish the police could have done more though. Why do men keep getting away with this stuff?

    6. tinybutfierce*

      This is such a weird take. The only one being remotely manipulative in this situation is the OP’s garbage ex.

    7. Temperance*

      Uh, try again, dude. No manipulation here for not going into graphic detail on what was included on these videos.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Yeah, everything the guy did was abhorrent and disgusting, yet OP is manipulative? Gtfoh with that sexism and slut shaming.

    8. Observer*

      Oh good grief!

      The OP did NOT hide anything material! In terms of the company and position, it makes absolutely zero difference if this was revenge porn or porn for pay. These were videos that have nothing to do with the company or job, and would only ever be linked to the company by a malicious actor.

      I love that somehow the OP not sharing every single detail about the matter is “manipulative” whereas somehow a guy trying to blackmail her gets a pass.

      1. Quill*

        This is basically a job that wasn’t remotely related to the industry, so OP left it off her resume.

        I don’t list the weekends I worked at ren faire or the time I got paid for writing one culture review for a local magazine on my resume, because they’re not relevant! And if either were stigmatized the way sex work is I’d be eve more cautious about mentioning them.

    9. TootsNYC*

      I don’t think she was required to provide every piece of information here.
      I’m totally OK with her wording.

    10. JSPA*

      No, no it’s not. “Private” is a perfectly good euphemism for “sex related.” Compare, “private parts” and “privates.” They don’t stop being your “privates” even if you air them in the presence of others, any more than your bikini zone stops being your bikini zone, if you ever skinnydip.

      Saying, “private videos that I was comfortable having anonymously available to people who will never meet me” would be both TMI and irrelevant. OP presented it exactly right. The boss responded exactly appropriately.

      If the boss had insisted that OP file a police report for theft of the videos that were concurrently available online, that would have been problematic; but no such thing happened. There’s no such thing as a right to interfere with your ex’s legitimate work at her place of business. Nor is there a right to make people see sex videos of their coworkers and employees (FFS!)

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Well let’s look at this a minute.
      Suppose you are a boss. You have hired this terrific employee, she’s doing great.

      All of the sudden an abusive ex sends porn videos of her thoughout your company. You find out that she worked in that arena for a while.

      As a boss, you just had all your employees get bombed with unsolicited porn- whether they appreciated it or not.
      The fact that she did it professionally really has no bearing here as your employees will be demanding that you stop this regardless of where it’s coming from. Now you are facing questions regarding sexual harassment. And your workplace becomes a mess as everyone is complaining and talking about the situation. Eventually they start commenting that you did NOTHING to help this person after this person asked for help.

      Do you see? After a bit it stops being about whether she got paid or not and the whole question shifts to much larger issues. I’d say it’s irrelevant whether she got paid or not, the fallout is the same either way. As a boss you have to protect your company and your employees.

    12. kt*

      You’re pretty good at changing the goalposts to hurt the victim!

      “My abusive ex threatened to send financial statements to my boss, showing I had credit card debt that I’d paid off/have credit card debt I’m working on…”
      “My abusive ex threatened to send photos from before my transition to my gender…”
      “My abusive ex threatened to send footage from a reality TV show I participated in during my 20s….”

      You know what makes any of these things sh*(&y? The abusive ex, the threatening, the manipulation from the ex.

    13. Quill*

      It’s not manipulative to tell an employer that your ex is trying to sabotage your career with materials you made in a previous career by a private thing. The ex still had access via their relationship with OP (because otherwise you would not necessarily be able to link the person and the videos) and it’s still him trying to sabotage her via previous sexual content, so still revenge porn. OP consented to this content to be used for private purposes among people who paid for it, not for it to be distributed via the ex.

  25. Elizabeth*

    This update gave me a happy cry. I’m so glad you’re safe and supported, OP!!

  26. Stormy Weather*

    Wow, so happy you were able to take those steps and move forward. I”m glad everything is working well now.

  27. Wing-N-Wing*

    This is such a great update! And yay for your new employer who sounds like they handled it in the best possible way.

  28. Trying a New Name*

    I’m so happy for you OP! My therapist taught me that sometimes, boring is good :)

  29. bluephone*

    I’m so glad this worked out okay! Congrats and good luck in your new/current job, OP! They sound like a great place to work for. And boo to your ex for being a jerk (and still somehow finding a new person to date. I feel sorry for that girlfriend because you know he’ll turn on her too eventually).

  30. OP Anon*

    I’ll just make a comment here, because I should get back to work :) I’ve commented under this name and also Anon OP once because I made a typo

    To clarify, yes, I made money from those videos, under my stage name. I have no shame in that, and I was aware that there is always a risk that I will have future repercussions in my life from that choice. But, that doesn’t mean that my ex gets to threaten to send those videos to my employer either.

    I’m happy, and in therapy. I’m very grateful that my employer took this seriously, and didn’t blame me for the harassment, which was my worst fear. I just had my first review, and it went very well, and I’m very happy in my job.

    I hope all employers in this situation react similarly. Don’t allow abusers to contact your employees, and take your employees seriously when they tell you about it.

    Abuse is the fault of the abuser, and only them. Never the victim. And to anyone who is currently going through this, you are not alone, and people care about you. You can get out. It will probably be difficult and scary, but you are stronger than you think, and you can do it.

    I think that mostly addresses all the comments I’m seeing. Thank you all for the kind and supportive comments.

    1. NeonFireworks*

      Go you! I’ve been in TWO similar situations, and both of my employers were amazing about it, thank goodness.

      1. Dragon_dreamer*

        My ex tried to visit me at my retail jobs. The pharmacy banned him from the store, but the computer repair told me they couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything. And that if I tried to hide in the back, I’d be written up. This was late in my stint at the former, and early at the latter. (I worked both jobs part time.) Thankfully he never showed up, but if that happened to me today, I’d quit the non-supportive job.

        1. Observer*

          They “couldn’t” do anything? What a load of malarkey!

          Such awful, awful people!

          1. Dragon_dreamer*

            “He’s a member of the public. We can’t tell a member of the public they have to leave! What do you want us to do, tell every cashier to watch out for him? They’ll never remember!”

            1. Grapey*

              For employers nodding their heads at this, I worked at a large grocery chain where most of an entire store of over 100 employees over multiple shifts were VERY well aware of who was harassing a fellow employee of ours. People remember.

            2. Observer*

              Yup. Terrible people. And they can’t even come up with good quality malarkey.

    2. Batgirl*

      I think it’s great that this is now going to show up in the searches of people in a similar spot. Very impressive work OP.

  31. C*

    Congratulations on all of this. You did so much amazing self-advocacy that I wish hadn’t been necessary. I’m glad your employer was on the ball on this. All the best for your future.

  32. HB*

    I kind of love that we didn’t get the original letter bc I think I would’ve been stressed about it and checking for updates periodically. So getting the update instead is perfect, particularly given that it was a good one!

  33. agnes*

    This update makes me so happy. I love that the workplace and the boss did all the right things!

    Best wishes to the LW on a peaceful and wonderful future.

  34. MissDisplaced*

    It’s really shocking how little protection people have if they are harassed or doxxed online. There was a great story in Wired a few months back along these lines. Unfortunately, while a restraining order helps, they don’t help much if the person is doing things online.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      They are re-writing these orders now to include online or cell phone or whatever technology people come up with.
      This will get better.

  35. MistOrMister*

    Great update to a letter we never saw :)

    What really jumped out at me was being broken up for 5 months before being able to move out. I cannot begin to imagine how incredibly stressful that must have been and am so glad OP managed to get out. It’s one thing when you have to cohabitate and the worst thing is it’s awkward as hell. But to have to keep living with an abuser is just so very much worse.

    1. OP Anon*

      It was….unpleasant to say the least. I slept in my car a good portion of the time.

  36. Marigold*

    YES!! I am so happy that you work for a company that cares about your wellbeing. My company had a similar situation where one of my colleagues had an abusive ex. But, instead of handling the situation confidentially, they put his picture up at the reception desk for everyone to see and then my boss revealed to my entire team whose boyfriend’s picture was hanging up . Not the best way to go about things.

  37. Jake*

    People are crazy.

    What in the world is this dude thinking? Nothing op could possibly have done (and I don’t mean to imply she did do anything wrong) would justify this behavior.

  38. TheAssistant*

    Oh this hit me right in the feels. I went through something similar in my first job and it was terrifying. I was overwhelmed by how kind and caring everyone was at work, from my boss to the CFAO we had to pull in to the IT people. They acted so swiftly and decisively when I, at 23 and scared out of my mind, could not.

    I am so happy for you that you got help, from Alison and your workplace. Great job.

  39. Foxgloves*

    This genuinely just made me cry. I have had similar- though not quite as severe- issues with an abusive ex too, and I can’t explain how happy it makes me to hear that your workplace were so great. It really does sound as if you’re thriving, OP- you are brilliant!!

  40. Heck yes*

    What a great update – an up note during crazy times! OP, it sounds like your boss is awesome, and also like you’ve done a great job of setting extremely clear boundaries with your ex. I hope you’re feeling good about all this!

  41. AFRS*

    Very best of everything to you, OP! So glad you’re doing well. You work for an awesome company. And thank you Alison for sharing this.

  42. Dwayne*

    “I love my job. It’s boring at times”

    She’ll be back to doing porn before too long.

    1. OP Anon*

      Maybe. But the health insurance is better here, as is the stable income. But there’s no reason I can’t make it a side-gig in the future.

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