update: my abusive former boss is still contacting me to berate me, months after I left

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 whose abusive former boss was still contacting her to berate her, months after she left? Here’s the update.

While I still have fresh wounds close to 9 months after leaving my last job, blocking my former boss on EVERYTHING (including LinkedIn) and sending any emails he sent directly to a folder I can’t see, just in case he causes me issues down the line for whatever reason, has been hugely helpful.

Your advice (and the advice and support of SO many readers) brought me to tears, multiple times. Truly, I believe that your advice and the advice and support from readers helped accelerate my healing and honestly, life hasn’t been this good for a long, long time. I know that’s insane to say in 2020 of all years, but truly, the weight of an abusive job was heavier than the weight of a global pandemic. For anyone who may be in an abusive situation, whether at work or somewhere else, please please please do everything you can to make an exit plan. You deserve better.

A couple of lessons that I have learned:

1.) I am out of the old job and don’t ever (EVER) need to go back. I am successful and thriving in my new career path, and have already built a number of strong advocates for myself. Blocking someone is powerful and empowering.

2.) Be careful who you take advice from – sometimes “mom advice” isn’t the best professional advice.

3.) Therapy is great, with the right therapist and talking about the “right” things.

Overall, I am doing incredibly well. My new job is going swimmingly and I am on track to receive exceptional ratings in my performance review this year. I have been able to fully fix my health issues that were brought on by stress in the last job – I feel SO much healthier and overall better in general. And, while I still have doubts about myself and there are scars from my last job, I’m moving forward in a healthy, safe environment.

THANK YOU to you, Alison, and all of your readers for your kindness, similar stories and experience, resources, pep talks, and a little sprinkle of tough love to help me realize that that behavior was never okay, and should never be okay. (On a side note, one of the last comments on my letter was from a commented named Lizzo – I like to believe that was Lizzo, the recording artist with amazing songs about loving yourself, and it was just the most perfect boost I could get at the end of the comment section).

Seriously, thank you. I have no other words besides thank you.

{ 40 comments… read them below }

  1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Another wonderful update! So glad for you, LW. Well done for taking control for yourself.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Wow, what a powerful story. In a way, hearing stories of other people who have survived and escaped from horrible jobs is nice because I know I’m not alone, but it’s also heartbreaking how many people have had similar experiences and how it seems that I’ll never be 100% “recovered” from it. Thank you for sharing!!

    2. Goldenrod*

      I just read the article! It was amazing. Thanks for recommending!

      Even though it was about a restaurant work environment, it reminded me so strongly of toxic workplace experiences I’ve had in offices. I guess abusive behavior pretty much looks the same everywhere.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Good for the author for writing about this extremely difficult and toxic environment. Rape rooms? Really?

      Blackout rages? And now he has kids? omg.

      It’s not our fault if we fall into a black, bottomless pit of a work place, but it is our responsibility to get ourselves out of the pit. And that’s extremely hard when one is being beaten to a pulp with words and with threats.

      I am sure there were fond moments. I am sure that the author grew because of this place. These things happen too. But the net gain is still in the negative range, despite a few positive points. I hope the restaurant owner eventually gets professional help. I am not convinced he’s out of the woods yet by this article.

  2. Code Monkey the SQL*

    Way to go LW! Boundaries are hard to set, but it can feel so amazing to finally have the freedom to leave an abusive person on the other side of them

  3. Krakatoa*

    I’m glad you learned that you don’t have to try to please the unpleasable. It’s such a good feeling when you realize you don’t have to make everyone like you.

  4. Laure001*

    Way to go, LW! I recently decided to cut all contact with my abusive mother… These are very different situations, of course, but just to say I understand your feelings. Kudos to you!

  5. Bob*

    So glad to hear your doing better.
    If he finds a way around your blocks don’t be afraid to get the law involved. A restraining order will put him on notice and if he breaks it, it could lead to the legal system coming down on him like a ton of bricks.
    And he will deserve it.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Thank you! So far, he hasn’t tried anything funny, but I’ve heard from my replacement that he’s been bad talking me (still!!) for only giving 3 weeks notice that I was leaving – which is more than the standard 2 weeks and WELL more than the no notice I could have provided!

      1. Bob*

        He is obviously the type to treat people like dirt for his own enjoyment.
        You can’t fix him nor should you try, but the best revenge is to move on and achieve personal success.
        Everything you accomplish from now on is one more nail in his evil coffin.

        1. Letter Writer*

          That’s a great way to think of it. I’m trying to live my life (and enjoy it – that’s new for me since leaving that job!) and forget about that twat waffle. For the most part, it’s going pretty well and I’m absolutely loving my new job with its normal amounts of disfunction as any job has. I’m so glad that I’ve moved beyond this and am eagerly awaiting the day where I forget this evil man exists.

          1. Bob*

            You can’t forget but you can work through the painful emotions and let it go and move on.
            This can be very difficult but it is very worth it.

      2. Quill*

        Hah, reminds me of the boss that got mad when he didn’t have follow-up for the stuff I had been working on after I left. You fired me, dude, the consequences are yours!

        1. Letter Writer*

          That’s exactly what happened to me! Except I quit on him and according to my friends who are left, he isn’t entirely sure how to function without me – even after filling my old role.

          1. Bob*

            You are making him pay for the consequences of his actions simply by forcing him to take care of himself and at this he is failing.
            He will likely never learn but the school of hard knocks takes no prisoners.

            Enjoy the schadenfreude, though don’t let it consume you.
            But don’t feel bad about enjoying it. Believe me, you earned it.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Thank you, friend. Wishing you and yours (and all the readers and commenters here) a happy holiday season for whichever holidays you celebrate and a joyful and successful 2021.

  6. nnn*

    YAY, so happy for you LW!!

    As an aside, I absolutely ADORE the idea of Lizzo posting random internet encouragement under her real name and everyone just assumes she’s some nondescript pseudonymous office worker.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Honestly, me too. I want to believe it’s true so I’m just not going to ask any questions and assume that OF COURSE international superstar Lizzo has a strong interest in understanding workplace issues.

    1. Letter Writer*

      OMG LIZZO! Seriously, thanks for making me feel good as hell – I definitely jammed out when I saw your comment on my original letter, and will likely do the same again later today.

  7. Anja*

    This makes me so happy to read and let me tell you…I can relate. I also recently left a workplace where I was being abused. You’d think a global pandemic would be more challenging than that situation. NOPE. I am happier than I have been in years after getting away from that abusive supervisor.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Agreed! It’s been really interesting to reflect that a global pandemic (plus all of the rest of the insanity that 2020 has offered) is less stressful and better for my health than an abusive boss and really horrible work environment.

  8. Batgirl*

    LW, I am so glad that you have learned how to block an energy leech because you are just the sort of person they love to glom onto. You’re conscientious, driven, kind, creative, self reflective, hard working, responsible… Sadly, some people see those traits as things to steal, rather than things to support. Now you have fences and walls around your powers to protect them from the unworthy. No more old men of the sea for you. You are free to use your powers for good. The old man of the sea can keep his stick and his rantings, which are the only things he really understands.

  9. LogicalOne*

    I am so flippin happy for you. I am so glad you cut yourself off from this @$$hole and that he is suffering without you. Karma is a b!tch sometimes and it certainly paid him a good visit. I normally don’t like to curse but situations like this I feel need that spice. I hope you aren’t still worried about this jerk possibly contacting you in the future. If so, I would get the authorities and the law involved for harassment and much more. It just baffles me how people in the workplace can behave. No job is worth your health. None.
    Best of luck in all your future endeavors and I hope you never come across someone like your former boss again!
    Happy holidays!!

  10. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    I’m a week late to the party but – GOOD FOR YOU!

    Think of it this way – you’re doing what you want to do, onward and upward, reach for the stars, etc. — it’s all working out for you.

    And Berating Boss and others are still stuck in the hell-hole. The only thing I advise for people like you is –

    1) “Don’t look back, something could be gaining on you.” (baseball quote from Satchel Paige) *and*

    2) You may have guilt feelings because some of your friends and colleagues are still stuck at Hellhole Industries, Inc. You had the good sense to get outa there. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with taking care of #1 , as we used to say.

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