I began working at a satellite office for a mental health center in 2007. I quickly ascended, receiving recognition and being promoted to a supervisor position in 2009. That same year, my boyfriend Jim started stalking me.
At first, he totally swept me off my feet. But over time it became clear to me that he had a temper – often directed at me. More than once, he grabbed my arm so hard it bruised, and it escalated to punching walls, putting me in a chokehold and threatening to kill me. After a cycle or two of breaking up with him and taking him back after tears and apologies, I ended it for good. That’s when he began calling me at work incessantly. I stopped answering, which only infuriated him and exacerbated the harassment.
Eventually my supervisor, Linda, noticed something was off, and I told her what was happening. One Saturday morning, she called me at home to check in when he showed up and started kicking my door and screaming. We called the cops.
The following Monday, Linda called me to her office to say that the phone had become a huge issue. Linda insisted that I file a restraining order, so I had to take the day off work to just get to the courthouse. Unfortunately, that coincided with a big deadline at work that I missed, but I got the temporary restraining order.
"Linda came as a witness and told the grand jury that Jim’s stalking was going to cause me to lose my job. That was the first I heard of it."
Within four weeks, he violated it one hundred times. And he was still calling me at work. It got so bad that Linda called the Sheriff. Jim was arrested, sent to jail, and was out the very next day.
Linda was incredibly supportive but at her wits’ end. It became a pattern. Jim would spend a night in jail, get out the next day and continue stalking me. By the fall, my work really began to suffer. The final straw came when I had to take time off for a court date for a permanent protection order. Linda was a witness and told the grand jury that Jim’s stalking was going to cause me to lose my job. That was the first I heard of it.
In the end, the court ordered no contact for two years. By then, I had fallen severely behind on my paperwork. I arrived at work one day, and the company director let me go, citing paperwork deficiency.
To this day, Linda and I have remained friends. She tried to help me at each step of the way but in the end, Jim won. I was unemployed for six months and wound up having to cash out my 401K to get by.
Now, I’m a victim advocate at a shelter in a small town in a Western state – I help women who are victims of domestic or sexual violence transfer from the shelter back into the community.