Last edited: 25th April 2019
In April 2018 I was suspended from my teaching job in Dubai as a consequence of writing a controversial blog post, ‘How To Date An Arsehole’. A year on, I wanted to write a letter to my ex-CEO. Here’s the letter:
It’s almost a year since I left your company. You know who I am. I’m the woman who reported the Principal of one of your schools for professional misconduct and then went public with his identity when I was fobbed off. We met several times over the years I worked for you and you liked me I think, usually giving me a hug and having a chat with me whenever you visited our school. I had a great deal of respect for you, working as a successful female CEO in Dubai. As a woman, when I made my complaint, I had thought that you would have my back, but that was disappointingly not the case. I expected more from you, hence this letter.
As you know, I had an emotional affair with my boss, a married Principal, a man I have nicknamed The Good Husband. This was a consensual relationship. He made a move on me within weeks of us meeting and I was hugely flattered. He is an ambitious, driven man who expects to get what he wants and I was very much under his spell for a long time. But I’m not a ‘Yes Girl’, I speak my mind and stay true to my values and beliefs. I didn’t always agree with the things he did in school and given the closeness of our personal relationship, I felt I could share my thoughts with him which didn’t always go down well. It meant the relationship was marred by frequent conflict as he tried to control and get his own way. The state of our personal relationship would often impact on our professional relationship. He allowed his feelings for me to influence how he treated me professionally. When happy with me, especially in the early stages when he was pursuing me, he was complimentary and actively encouraged my professional aspirations (making promises of promotion etc) but when he was upset with me, he would sulk and fail to support me, treating me differently to other teachers, particularly during those times I tried to end the relationship. The promised promotion didn’t happen. It became a difficult environment to work in, which after three years took its toll – in the third year I had a nervous breakdown – and eventually I had enough. I was broken.
Let’s recap the events of last year. In a moment of anger, I wrote a blog ‘How To Date An Arsehole’ https://wp.me/p9u5hw-4K about two of my exes, one of which was my boss. If any other teacher had written that post and complaints started to come in from parents, that teacher would have been told to take down the blog post immediately and the situation would have been managed. That didn’t happen in my case. I was thrown to the wolves and suspended when the complaints escalated. The night before I left Dubai, I reached out to you to request a meeting. You did not reply. When I told HR that I wanted to make a complaint about my boss, I was told to submit an email with some details. No one was very interested. I sent in a detailed complaint with screenshot evidence. Nothing happened. When I asked about my complaint I was told it was confidential and would be dealt with. I only know he was spoken to about it because he told me. Again I reached out to you, giving you details of the relationship, explaining how it had negatively impacted on my career and again I got no reply. You just didn’t want to know.
And then I read your gushing announcement. For writing a blog, I lost my job and had to leave the country I lived in. I took responsibility for my actions. Despite an inappropriate extramarital relationship, including a kiss on school property, him asking me to have sex on his desk (I declined…) and unprofessional behaviour that was detrimental to my wellbeing, my boss was allowed to have one more year in his job at our school and received public praise by you. I have since learned that you have now allowed him to move to another school as Principal within your company so your announcement about him leaving was a complete lie and a deliberate attempt to mislead (you said you would miss him; not true given that he is not actually leaving the company!). A shocking double standard. Why lie if you are so sure he did nothing wrong? How do you know he did nothing wrong when you have never spoken to me about him? Was the truth just inconvenient for you? You said you were proud of him. I was gutted when I read that. You obviously hadn’t believed me and here you were, publicly supporting him. You didn’t even give me the courtesy of a phone call. All that apparently mattered to you was preserving the positive image of the school, not the truth. I had panic attacks and nightmares for months after I left, as a result of the relationship, as I struggled to deal with the aftermath – still loving him but trying to come to terms with how damaging his behaviour had been to me. Counselling helped me to understand that aspects of our relationship had been emotionally abusive, though, I honestly don’t believe that he realised that, until I blogged about it.
Everyone believed my ex to be a nice guy devoted husband and father, so when I spoke out and shattered that image, I received a lot of abuse. I understood why people felt the way they did and I do regret the pain caused to his family – his wife has received heartfelt private apologies from me. But I wouldn’t have felt the need to speak out if you had not so publicly condoned what he did and fobbed me off. I would not have made a complaint if I couldn’t prove everything. I told you I had hundreds of emails, transcripts of WhatsApp conversations and screenshots that I could supply as evidence to back up my allegations. When the relationship started to become toxic, I realised how vulnerable my position at school was and kept everything in case the day came when I would need to prove the nature of our relationship. I never expected to have to use any of it but unfortunately my worst fears came true, though I had hoped to resolve the matter privately. I have never said anything publicly that wasn’t true and couldn’t be proved. I didn’t even sleep with him yet I have been trolled and called ‘a homewrecker’. I did not want to go public but I had to speak out about the unprofessional manner he treated me in the workplace and subsequent damage done to my career as a result of our relationship.
By stating publicly that you were proud of him, you made it clear whose side you were on and what you thought. You like him and think highly of him. As someone who loved him, I get it, but he did abuse his position of power, and as sorry as he is about that, it wasn’t OK. I’ve been made out to be a liar, a disgruntled employee who just wants to cause trouble, an attention seeker, a scorned woman looking to destroy her ex, and that’s not fair and not true. Dubai is not a place of equal opportunities, irrespective of the marketing the government likes to do promoting the image of Dubai as a happy safe place for all, a tourist Mecca, the Vegas of the Middle East. Dubai is a place where women cannot report a rape because they will be jailed. That’s insane. I should have known that when I made my complaint of professional misconduct to you that it would just be swept under the carpet. Rather than supporting women, all you are doing is reinforcing the skewed values of Dubai. You should have spoken to me. You should have listened to me. You should have believed me. You should have supported me. If and when another woman comes to you with a similar complaint, please take her seriously. Don’t just fob her off, try to silence her with a non-disclosure agreement like you did with me and expect her to go away. The whole situation was handled so poorly; you made a bad situation even worse.
A year on, I am in such a good place mentally and emotionally and have made my peace with the past. My ex and I both made mistakes but we’re only human. That’s life. I’ve learned and grown; forgiven him and myself. I hope we both wish each other happiness and that he too is in a good place. Feel I should end this letter by saying thank you for suspending me. As traumatic as it was at the time, everything has eventually worked out for the best and all is now as it should be, and as it is meant to be.
All the best,
P.S. I wrote this letter before I learned about his new job within your company. Disgusted and hugely disappointed. I was told my complaint would be taken seriously. That was obviously a lie. I was also told by HR that I should trust the company to deal with the matter. I didn’t trust you and it’s apparent now that I was right not to. Now I understand why you made me sign that NDA (I had no choice – you held the money I was owed hostage). Bravo. Unfortunately for you I refused to be silenced. What a bunch of hypocritical bastards you all are. He has evidently never taken responsibility or been held accountable. Instead you have protected and patted him on the back. Other people at the school have been fired for having affairs (my ex told one couple I know of to leave) so why choose to make an exception for him and reward him with a new job? I find it hard to believe that you’re OK with a married member of your senior staff asking a colleague for sex in the workplace. Forgiving him did not mean I condoned his unacceptable and unprofessional behaviour; I never will. I had taken all of the related blog posts down as a gesture of goodwill, for his family’s sake, but as you continue to condone his abuse of power and emotional abuse of me, I’ve put the posts back up as a matter of principle (excuse the pun) – I don’t want anyone else to go through what I did. The truth always speaks for itself, no matter how hard people try to sweep things under the carpet. You’ve just let him get away with everything, thereby conveying the message to other men that they can behave this way and probably get away with it too, and left me feeling unheard, let down, and discredited. Your actions have told the world that what happened to me doesn’t matter. It matters. Anyone who has been in any kind of abusive relationship knows how much strength and courage it takes to speak up, walk away and heal. I am stronger and wiser for all that I have been through. I’m going to continue getting on with living life on my terms, grateful for the happier experiences and the supportive friends I have in my life now, and leave it to karma to work her magic…
This blog post links with: The Good Husband Saga https://wp.me/p9u5hw-1DE; For The Record https://wp.me/p9u5hw-18C; How To Date An Arsehole https://wp.me/p9u5hw-4K; Get Lit (Not Gaslighted…) https://wp.me/p9u5hw-Gr; Invisible Scars https://wp.me/p9u5hw-Sf; From One (Ex) Mistress To Another https://wp.me/p9u5hw-1zN All of these posts have been updated for the final time.