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Long story short, my former manager, but current coworker's, poor treatment resulted in me developing a case of PTSD. I was diagnosed about two months ago. However, we don't have an HR team so there is no one to disclose to or deal with her bullying behavior (the boss doesn't care as long as she is doing OK work), and leaving isn't an option right now, so I have to grin and bear working with my abuser. Luckily, she works in a different department so we only really interact during morning meetings.

I am holding a 4th of July at my house for all of my interns. Her interns are not invited since they work in a separate office from us.

My boss knows about the party, but he will not be attending. I have not told her about it, but I know she will find out about it and invite herself and her interns so she can take credit.

How do I politely tell her that she isn't allowed in my home?

Letting her in is not an option and will trigger a PTSD episode.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – motosubatsu Jun 8 at 10:45
  • Just following up: did you get any trouble from the coworker? Were any of the answers helpful? – zmike Jul 6 at 18:23
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    I’m voting to close this question because it seems more suited for Interpersonal Skills – L.Dutch Jul 22 at 13:25
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How do I politely tell her that she isn't allowed in my home?

Assuming she speaks to you and attempts to invite herself and/or her interns, you tell her:

No, thank you.

No explanation needs to be given, if she persists or asks for a reason you tell her:

My decision is final.

If they show up unannounced, you don't let them in. It's your house, you decide who can enter.

Just be mentally prepared for her reaction due to being rejected by you. If she was abusive in the past, she will likely be abusive after being rejected, no matter how polite you are.

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    That's excellent: the key takeaway seems to be: Do not offer anything that could be used for arguing against. If you want to avoid having to defend your side in an argument, do not offer an opportunity for one. As terse as semantically possible. "No." "You are not coming in." "Have a nice weekend. Elsewhere. Thank you." Conversation over. Door shut. – Levente Jun 7 at 19:21
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    One added piece of advice, if there is a trusted colleague/friend at the party, ask them to come a bit early. That way she can't be the first to arrive and your friend can have your back if needed. – skippy Jun 7 at 20:59
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    @CaptainEmacs that is not relevant at all. You should never feed toxic people with anything they could argue about. They are already past the fase of rational reasoning and accepting boundaries. – Mixxiphoid Jun 8 at 6:36
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    Final step: If they refuse to go you can call the police. – Mixxiphoid Jun 8 at 6:37
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    The only reason one needs to give: "I have the right to decide who is welcome to my house. Period." – iBug Jun 8 at 16:31
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Just clearly stipulate who the invitation is for (interns and members of X dept). It's a very common way of doing invitations anyway.

Even if someone shows her the invitation it will clearly state who is to come.

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    Yep. A bunch of invitations with the recipients name on them. Done. – MGOwen Jun 8 at 3:17
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    An explicit list of names definitely (not "member of X" or "interns" - too vague. Not a list that could be in any way reinterpreted. If the individual mentioned is as bad as indicated they might take any vagueness as an opening. Make it clear that it is only for explicitly named people. – StephenG Jun 9 at 22:41
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    Yes, "my party for my interns" is the obvious answer. – RonJohn Jun 10 at 14:23
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    I like this answer for a number of reasons. Primarily for the approach - i.e DON'T tell her she isn't welcome. Tell those that are and ignore the rest. It's not like you're gonna tell HR, the cleaners, the accountants etc they aren't welcome. It really shouldn't be any different here. Telling her explicitly that she isn't welcome is likely to cause problems. She'll feel singled out and may well return the 'favour'. – enhzflep Jun 10 at 19:10
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It's been somewhat alluded to in comments etc. already, but if you are worried about this person turning up at your house unannounced then it might really help to have an ally. Both at the time, and knowing that you will have one in the lead-up to your party.

You haven't stated either way, but it is probably incredibly stressful trying to contain this situation alone while you are hosting, let alone the fear hanging over you beforehand of the possibility of it. Knowing that it will not be on you alone to handle it if it happens offers literal peace of mind. If she does turn up unannounced, it will be much easier to deal with it how others have recommended, if you are not also worrying about what onlookers will think, who they will "side with" or (heaven forbid) what happens if this awful person gets out of hand.

You don't need to tell all your guests or make a big thing about it, just don't keep this wholly to yourself. If one or two trusted coworkers are aware, or even just your partner, then in that moment you will know you can project calm, firm, detached distancing without needing to engage in justification or any opening for debate. You can shut that door and people watching will know it was right. If she escalates, there will be people other than just you who are ready to help you.

She probably won't turn up at all, maybe she'd enjoy knowing that you're worrying about the possibility idk. The main reason to have this in place is rather to soothe your fears in the lead-up, by cutting down on a load of social "what ifs". What if guests think I was too rude, what if she kicks off etc. Nobody should bear those worries alone and in the event you will have a whole house of potential allies.

So just get one or two of them on side now, just in case, then when she doesn't turn up after all you won't have wasted so much emotional energy stressing about the possibility beforehand because you will know you're not, and won't be alone in handling this. These kinds of people love to get others expending emotional energy over them in that way, that's probably as far as this will go, but in the worst case having others on your side in the event will allow you to do all the detached "professional" type handling which others have recommended with your head held high.

It will probably be fine, you will have a great party, just don't carry this worry alone.

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    Yes, a trusted partner or family member could be your door man as well. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 8 at 5:58
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    Yes absolutely, everyone else seems to assume that OP can perfectly control and coordinate their actions while in the middle of a PTSD episode. OP needs an ally to manage this interaction and provide the support OP needs – Fred Stark Jun 8 at 7:48
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    Having my own share of PTSD, I gotta say that this is the answer I would need. – orithena Jun 8 at 9:51
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    lol. Hire a literal bouncer. If your name's not on the list, you're not coming in. – Richard Jun 8 at 20:36
  • Where I live, if you were a single woman, you would have a choice of neighbours you could ask and most of them would gladly agree to help. – gnasher729 Jun 19 at 12:06
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My boss knows about the party, but he will not be attending.

Unfortunate that the boss won't be there. If this boss manages both you and the other person, and if your boss knows the gathering is happening and isn't a total asshat, it may be worth letting your boss know that you need to limit the gathering to just your own interns.

But I would DEFINITELY like to second the suggestion that you have one or more allies with you at the house BEFORE the party's announced start time, who know about the situation with your harassing colleague etc.. (I assume this person's reputation is well known, since it's hard to keep these things a secret.)

You might also consider letting the word get around that it's invitation only and size limited. Other interns may be less inclined to try to show up.

I'm so sorry you have to face this. Good luck.

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    Sounds like the boss doesn't actually manage the situation. – Möoz Jun 8 at 22:28
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    You might also consider letting the word get around that it's invitation only and size limited. Other interns may be less inclined to try to show up. This is good advice. In fact, you have the ultimate excuse: COVID. Just let people know you're being mindful of not having too many people over. – Möoz Jun 8 at 22:29
  • @Möoz: I'm not sure if it's a good thing here to be polite and invent a socially acceptable excuse. The former boss was abusive to the point the OP has PTSD. Maybe it's better to be somehow confrontational. – Quora Feans Jun 10 at 23:43
  • @QuoraFeans I agree, it's best to avoid giving excuses, especially a made-up one. But that example is an option, just in case. – Möoz Jun 10 at 23:44
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Let me higlight the single key thing clearly.

This is your own, private party, in your own house, outside working hours, with your acquaintances. It's not some corporate event. You decide who you invite to your house. She has as much right to show up there uninvited as I do:

None.

If she can't handle not being invited to one's private party, that's none of your business. She is not invited. End of sentence. Set your boundaries straight, and stick to them rock solid.

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When you send out the invitations, you can include something along the lines of "I do not wish my home address to be distributed throughout the company. Please do not share this invitation with others. Those invited will be provided the address." She will likely still manage to get the address, but it will change the nature of the interaction if she shows up at your house, as she will not be able to do so without admitting to having gotten someone to share the address with her, so just by showing up she's already clearly violating your boundaries.

If she enters your property, tell her to leave. If she tries to argue, just respond "I own this property, and you are trespassing. I have no obligation to debate my actions with you. You have a legal obligation to leave."

benxyzzy has suggested that you have an ally. You will have to make the initial contact, just to establish that your ally is acting on your behalf. After that, you can leave it to your ally to tell her that she needs to leave. If she continues to refuse, calling the police and having them explain trespassing law to her is an option. If things continue to escalate, a restraining order might be something to consider.

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If the event is off-site at your house, then it is a private event and not a public one. You decide who gets to enter your house, not anyone else. If someone you don't want to attend shows up, just tell them you "were not expecting" them and "didn't prepare" for them, or what have you and leave it at that, and ask them nicely to leave.

That is, if she invites her interns to your party. If she herself comes, then you may have to be a bit more forceful. If she shows up, knowing that she is not welcome to be around you because she has bullied you, here is a simple, three-step solution to get rid of her:

  1. Tell her to leave. Nothing fancy, just a simple: "I want you to leave. Now." Don't be apologetic, or friendly, or make excuses. That's all you have to say: "Leave. Now."

  2. If she refuses to leave, you escalate immediately: "I have told you to leave. You are now trespassing on my property. I will give you one more chance to leave. You will leave, now, or I will be calling the police to have you removed by force." Say it once, and only once. Do not explain, do not say anything more.

  3. If she still refuses to leave, call the police (911 or whatever your other local emergency number is), and do it in front of her so she is aware of what has happened. This will elicit one of two responses: Fight, or flight. In "fight", she will attempt to wrestle the phone out of your hand so that you can't report her to the police. In this case, you call for help: As you are having a party, there are likely others within earshot who can come to your aid, so use them. In most places, fighting back in this case is considered self-defence. Restrain her, and, if you can, hold her captive however you can while you have your call with the police, and while you await the police to arrive, so they can arrest her for trespassing and assault (the assault that occurred when she attacked you). In "flight", she will see that you are serious and she will run, and probably say something like "that's not cool man, I didn't mean any harm, I just wanted to have a good time, don't be such a [whatever]". Let her run. Do not cancel your call to the police. When the police arrive, tell them what happened, tell them all the information you have about her, tell them she is a coworker and is abusive to you at work, etc. The police may or may not follow up legally, but if they don't, at least you've filed a police report and you have a paper trail in case this happens again.

  4. (Optional) Report this activity to her boss, that she showed up unannounced to your party that she was not invited to. There may be work-related repercussions for this, depending on your company culture etc.

EDIT: On second thought, you should probably do step 4 anyway. Just in case she starts sending you threatening emails at work, or makes trouble for you if you need to work together on a project, or something like that. This should be made known to management so management knows what type of person she is in case other issues come up in the future.

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    "Restrain her, and, if you can, hold her captive" it's hard to put into words how bad this advice is. Absolutely do not do this op. – eps Jun 8 at 6:54
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    This reads like a teenage superhero story. In reality, she won't let op finish her sentence and just walk in and op will have a ptsd episode at their own party. Yay. – DonQuiKong Jun 8 at 7:22
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    The OP is asking how to prevent a trauma, before a "dangerous" situation even occurs. Your answer suggests causing a direct confrontation at the party, escalating the conflict and causing the OP another trauma. – akwky Jun 8 at 13:52
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    This answer is incredibly unhelpful, as it basically gives advice on how to escalate a situation, cause conflict, and even violence - which is exactly the opposite of what OP needs. Wish I could downvote more times. – Steve Bennett Jun 9 at 2:20
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    It really is hard to overstate just how bad this answer is. I am BEFUDDLED that it has a positive score. I almost never DV on Workplace. -1 – Alex M Jun 9 at 4:18
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I don't think she would show up. She clearly know you like her or not.

Further, if she asks, then just reject her with a random reason is also fine, no one is stupid.

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    "no one is stupid", you'd be surprise what kind of people are walking around in the real world. – Mixxiphoid Jun 8 at 13:09
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    I think this is less about stupidity and more about how far this person is willing to go to bully the OP. – BSMP Jun 9 at 8:38
  • Some people are that stupid (see darwinawards.com). But some people will intentionally do things to hurt others, especially if one is a bully and the other person has PTSD. – gnasher729 Jun 19 at 12:08
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    Giving random reasons is absolutely wrong. You give NO reasons. NO opening for contradiction. NO invitation for discussion. You say NO. You say "NO, YOU ARE NOT COMING". You say "NO, YOU ARE NOT INVITED". You say "NO, YOU WILL BE THROWN OUT". – gnasher729 Jun 19 at 12:10
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If the company is small enough not to have HR, you probably have a very small team. Such an argument is going to increase the already existing tensions. It's a boring argument but... quitting would be the best option, interns or not.

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    it's not about hr, it's about company size. – Monoandale Jun 8 at 17:19
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    Advising someone to quit a job they may like, a job that might be well-paid, and a job that ticks more boxes than you or I happen know, does not solve the current problem about the party on July 4th. This is probably why the answer received so many downvotes – Mari-Lou A Jun 9 at 7:22
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    OP said, "leaving isn't an option right now", so it sounds like they've already considered it. – BSMP Jun 9 at 8:37
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    @Mari-LouA Agreed. People here tend to throw around "quit your job" as it would be barely more than getting a haircut. Who needs income, financial stability, and carreer, anyway? – Neinstein Jun 9 at 20:24
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    If you ever think about quitting your job because of a conflict with a colleague, the first step is not to quit. The first step is to do whatever you can to make them quit or get them fired. – gnasher729 Jun 19 at 12:11

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