I was the assistant to a writer. He barely paid me but offered mentorship instead. Being new to the writing world, I accepted the position with rose-colored glasses, believing I would learn a lot grow as a writer under this man’s tutelage. He offered a three-hour writers’ session with me once a week in order for me to help him with his writing as well as discuss some of my own material. “What a great opportunity! How could I say no?”, I thought.
During our second meeting, he spent the entire session arguing, belittling and patronizing his wife during an argument (on speaker phone) while I could only sit and wait for it to be over, or for a natural disaster to swiftly kill me. After an hour of politely sitting in the room, pretending to be deaf, he puts her on mute and asked me, “How do I deal with this woman? She is a nightmare.” However, it was obvious that his emotionally abusive tactics of getting what he wanted was the real nightmare here. While trying to stay diplomatic, I explained to him that I thought this argument was symbolic of deeper issues; trying to be as vague as possible. He then twisted my words and used them against his wife as he continued to berate her. It was the most uncomfortable I have ever felt in a job. On my way home from that experience, his wife called me to apologize for her husband. She didn’t apologize for his cruel words, but because he did it in front of me, the innocent wide-eyed assistant. The next time I saw him, everything seemed fine until he accused me of “causing problems in his marriage” and fired me. Three days later his wife left him.