Episode 144: "What if my partner keeps bothering me while I'm working?"Support the show
On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about when partners disrupt work.
This is Jessica Skultety, I’m an Outreach and Prevention Manager here at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services at no charge to survivors for over 40 years.
So, today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, What if my partner keeps bothering me while I’m working?”
This episode is part of a podcast series on financial and economic abuse, especially when it comes to teens. So today’s question is a really good example of this. If your partner is bothering you while at work, you aren’t alone.
A national organization called Futures Without Violence recently published a new, important study about teen economic abuse. For example, from this study, 67% of teens in this study experienced work interference from a partner. And we get questions like this when we give presentations to teens.
So, why do people choose to disrupt their partner’s work time? It all comes down to power and control. This person is trying to show you that they control your life. By doing that, they are creating an unequal and often unsafe imbalance of power in the relationship. So when someone chooses to bother their partner at work, they’re making their partner look bad to their bosses, they might be distracting them from getting work done, etcetera. And those can have consequences for the person who’s at work.
Here are some examples of how partners might abuse their partner during work that we haven’t mentioned already:
-Constantly texting or calling to “check up” on their partner. The motive behind this is usually to get someone in trouble, get them fired, or to make them feel like they need you more than they need to work.
-Showing up unwanted or unasked, or waiting outside a workplace for you to get there or leave, which is also stalking if it’s happening in a pattern, more than once
-Pressuring or forcing you to change your work schedule, or to skip work
-Pressuring you to quit or work less so you can spend more time with them
-Pressuring you to work at the same place they do, or the same shift
-Harassing coworkers or your friends or family while you are gone
-And hiding keys or phone so you can’t leave the house, disrupting internet connection if you work from home, anything that’s preventing you from getting to work on time.
So keep in mind that for all students, school work is also work, and it's also just as problematic if a partner is interfering with your ability to fully participate in classes. Sometimes, a partner does these things and makes excuses by saying they really care about you, or they have trust issues. The reality is that you have the right to set boundaries. If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious because of your partner’s actions, that is totally valid and you are not alone.
Now if your partner is doing this, there are some things you can do. If you feel safe to do so, tell them to stop. If they keep going and overstepping that boundary that you set, this could also be a good time to ask yourself some questions:
1. How does this make me feel?
2. Do their reasons for bothering me match up? Do I still trust them?
3. How is this affecting my work?
4. Do I feel safe in this relationship?
Remember, you have every right to leave a relationship for any reason, if you want to. If you don’t feel safe to tell them to stop or to leave, you have more options. You can talk to your boss about what’s going on. You can request that someone accompany you in and out of work if you’re feeling unsafe outside. You can also safety plan with our helpline or online chat at safe-sound.org, whether you’re staying or leaving a relationship.
Remember, you’re not alone, and you deserve to be respected. And you have a right to set boundaries around your work.
To speak with an expert about relationship or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.