I wanted to take a few minutes and address one of the most disheartening things that most people don’t know. It’s an issue I dealt with personally many years ago. And that issue is that in most states, it is perfectly legal for an employer to fire a victim.
I worked for a technical college. I taught paralegal studies, directed the program, acted as an academic adviser, and managed the internship program for paralegals. I had recently moved to Oklahoma City. The Tribe paid for my move. They came and installed window and door alarms. My advocate went with me to court hearings for the protective order. I am forever in debt to the Absentee Shawnee Tribe for their help and their support.
One day, the Campus Director (who also happened to be a lawyer) called me into his office because of a “problem.” The college had received an anonymous phone call that essentially said I was a sexual deviant and had nude photos of myself online. I had to talk to him, the Director of Education, AND legal. Separately. And all at once. My job was on the line because, as they eventually determined, the ex that I have a permanent VPO against (that is now worked into the divorce decree via amended language) for stalking, abuse, and harassment made these allegations.
I had to produce old emails from websites that held pictures that he had that he used to try and blackmail me. I had to produce my entire court file that led to the VPO. I had to hand over documents (including police reports) filed with the local police and Tribal police. My domestic violence advocate also had to get involved.
So, essentially, I had to be retraumautized and revictimized to keep my job. Legal eventually told the Campus Director to drop the matter and ensure that day time and night time security was notified of a name, description, date of birth, car tag, car description…all the stuff I could give them, basically, to ensure that they could keep me as safe as possible since I taught both days and nights.
Not Everyone Is So Lucky
I hated what I went through. It was like reliving everything. And I could tell you some real horror stories that I’m still not ready to discuss. A lot of victims are fired because their employer doesn’t want the potential liability, the potential danger, or the absences that take place because the victim has to go to court, move, or (God forbid) is in the hospital. They lose their jobs. Their income. It’s the one lifeline they feel like they have.
As a nation, we simply must do better.