Dr. Spilchuk – Stalking and Harassment!2017-06-02T14:25:36+00:00
Dear Dr. Spilchuk…

March, 2006

Stalking and Harassment!

Dear Dr. Spilchuk,

I came across your email address on the International Schools Review web site, and want to write to you regarding my situation. I have been teaching overseas for 10 years now and am now in my first (and what will be my last) year teaching at an overseas school in (name withheld).. I have been dealing with stalking and continued harassment by a fellow male teacher at the school. This has now been going on since last September and the school administration has been aware of this but have done very little to support my situation.

My Head of Department had a crush on me at the beginning of the school year, which I considered to be quite harmless at first, except when he started following me around, sending me emails, and slipping notes under my apartment entrance. Recently, I went away on a class field trip for a week and came back to find that he became suicidal due to my lack of reception from his advances. He was hospitalized and subsequently sent back to his home country to undergo psychological treatment at a mental institution. I thought he was gone for good but he came back within 3 weeks to continue teaching at the school. The school had told me that there was nothing they could do to prevent him from returning.

The first day back after his return, the director insisted that I confront this man. So, in the presence of the school counselor, I confronted him and told him that he was not to have any more contact with me. It was a very weird situation because he didn’t really seem to acknowledge that he had done anything wrong. Plus, he said that he held “no animosity towards me”. This worried me. He was on antidepressants before, but decided to not take them. He is back on his medication, but he is not required to seek any counseling.

Well, this man continues to harass me with the assistance of an older woman at the school. While having a conversation with another female colleague it appears that the two of them had been harassing her, as well, to try to get her to go out with him. These are not isolated incidences and there is also talk of this type of behavior continuing with other women at the school who have subsequently left. Of course, this is hearsay so I cannot substantiate this.

I have been firm with my stand regarding the “no contact” rule, although the school believes I am being unreasonable. Now, he is badgering one of my colleagues regarding a “rumor” that he had heard about me. Luckily, my colleague approached the school administration with this situation and they agreed that his behavior on this occasion was unacceptable.

He has been warned time and time again to leave me alone, but continues to do what he can to make my life difficult. I have broken my contract, citing family reasons, but am not sure if I can wait it out until June because of this constant harassment and badgering. I would like to be able to do something to show both this man and the school administration that I am very serious about this problem and do not want it to continue in regards to me or anyone else. There is a consular office here in town and I would like to know if I should contact them to lodge a complaint? Is there any other course of action I could take in order to stop this type of behavior from continuing, without leading to any major legal action or harming the reputation of the school?

Your advice would be much appreciated!

Sincerely,

(name withheld)

Hello,

To answer your question, sit down and make a detailed, written list of all of the incidents, their dates and locations of where this fellow harassed you and descriptions of the harassment that occurred. Make sure to include the names of any witnesses to these events on your list. Present this document, along with a formal complaint letter to the HEAD, copied to your embassy, assuring the Head that your next step will be:

a.) to go to your embassy for support.

b.) to request that your embassy contact the other teacher’s embassy to discuss his behavior with him.

c.) to request that your embassy contact you host country’s government to explain the situation to them. The most effective deterrent to this fellow would be if the host country were to threaten lifting his work VISA should he continue to harass you in this manner.

Failing any concrete steps by the Head to assist you, I would then follow through.

A.) Take your documentation to your embassy as a follow-up to the copy of the letter to the Head that you have already sent to them. Have a counselor/assistant at the embassy call the school you are at to express clear concerns about your safety in this type of situation.

B.) You might also go to the stalker’s embassy and explain the situation to them. It would be even more useful if you could convince a consultant at your embassy to call someone at the stalker’s embassy to have them assist you with this matter.

C.) Finally, ask the representative of your embassy to also contact the Immigration and Visitor/Work VISA section of the host country government to explain the situation to them there. The most effective
deterrent to this fellow would be if the host country were to threaten lifting his work VISA should he continue to harass you in this manner.

This last contact would be the most serious step since it involves the citizens of two countries and their embassies, in what might become a diplomatic tug-of-war with the host country, you present host country in the center.

Certainly, if your Head is not able to deal with the situation effectively, you are only left with diplomatic channels and I would follow them vigorously. As you have indicated, this fellow is just moving along from one female teacher to the next like a fungal growth. While someone needs to take a stand to stop him, ABOVE ALL ELSE, DO NOT RISK YOUR OWN SAFETY BY TAKING ANY STEPS THAT MIGHT JEOPARDIZE YOUR OWN PHYSICAL WELL-BEING. IF NECESSARY, WALK AWAY FROM THE SITUATION!

If you are forced to do that, tell the Head that you will be seeking legal assistance upon return to your home country for breach of contract, non-support and other issues, naming himself, the School and anyone else who might be culpable including the Board and Owners. Whether or not you could take these folk to court is one thing; I would certainly throw down the gantlet as a last resort.

Here is a quote from a recent posting to the ISR Forum that you may find helpful: “Schools that recruit in the US as well as schools that have Americans on the Board are governed by the equal employment opportunity commission and thus US labor laws. Check out the site www.eeoc.gov for information. If the school receives funds from the Office of Overseas Schools they also can be held accountable. In addition, accrediting agencies have ethics clauses and may be a source of help.

Please keep in touch. If there is anything further that I can do to assist, I will. If you want me to write an email/letter directly to your Head on your behalf supporting your position, I would be more than happy to do this.

Sincerely

Barbara

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