Dear Toxic Person
By Tessa Kriesel profile image Tessa Kriesel
3 min read

Dear Toxic Person

A candid letter to my gaslighting abuser

I have never been able to please you. You proved early on that I was someone you chose not to respect. I have spent more time than I would like to admit thinking about how I can create a better working environment between the two of us. However, every conversation we have is toxic—you are either mad at me for the last thing that I did wrong or you are having a bad day and taking your anger out on me. Your emotional problems should not be focused towards me. I am not responsible for your happiness.

The first time that you and I attended a WordCamp together, you made it very clear how you felt about me by yelling at me to stay at our booth in front of a crowd of people eating lunch. Later that night, in front of other community members, you proceeded to tell me that we are not friends and that we will never be friends. Little did I know how right you would be. Friends do not treat each other with the level of disrespect that you have for me.

You put your medical concerns on me. We were walking around a mall when we arrived in town for a WordCamp, and you got angry at me (and another person) because you needed to eat for medical reasons and I was taking too long to make a decision. Your medical concerns should be addressed in your personal time—I felt bad for you, even though you were, again, treating me like garbage. Only later to find out that you went drinking that night. What happened to not feeling well?

You have made comments about thinking that some of our other coworkers are really great & smart and that they intimidate you. I can’t help but think that because I am a woman, that somehow that is your reason for not being intimidated by me—when I have the same or similar technical skills as them. Are women not allowed to hold the same level of authority and intellect as men?

From you ripping apart every idea I have in meetings or brainstorming sessions, to literally screaming at me at various WordCamps or Drupal events, you have proved that you have zero respect for me. So why do I keep trying to be nice to you? Why do I keep going out of my way to build a relationship with you? Because your emotional instability scares me. I keep telling myself that what you have done to me “isn’t that bad” or that I’ve known of women who have been treated worse and I try to down-play the situation, when the truth is, it hurts me. It hurt my career. And you’ve hurt other women.

I refuse to live in fear, I refuse to let you take me hostage from attending the same events and being in the same space. If bringing up your behavior means that you have a problem with me, I will gladly take that over yet another community member being treated poorly by you. I know of at least two other community members who have reported their discomfort to me with your anger, behavior & lack of respect.

Over the weekend I realized that you have ignored my last Slack DM and have apparently blocked me on all social media profiles. Removing your toxicity from my life has been the best thing you have ever done for me. And since you have chosen to avoid any positive actions I have tried to take, I am 100% okay knowing that this is how it ends.

It has taken me two years to tell others, outside of our organization, and I can’t help but think that I should have told someone sooner. Would you have been allowed to even attend the events where you made the other women feel uncomfortable? Possibly not. I could have stopped you from hurting more people.

Thankfully, I am telling someone now and it seems as though they’re listening. And if you do end up reading this, know that I just want you to get the help you need to be more emotionally & mentally stable and I am hoping sharing this will help you make the choice to do that.

Additional context for this abuser & scenario

By Tessa Kriesel profile image Tessa Kriesel
Updated on
Working in Tech