verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

Posted: Mon, 10/13/2008 - 19:56

after two years of subtle psychological harrassment aimed mainly at me, now both my husband and I (and to some extent our child) are suddenly faced with verbal harassment by our neighbors (man and woman)..mainly from the man. We have been trying to build a very small an addition to our house. While we have had a good amount of support from many other neighbors in writing, we have had extremely stringent opposition from neighbors on either side both of whom have teamed up and resorted to several psychological, verbal and physical harassment tactics to weaken our resolve in the hopes that we will we eventually cave in and leave this neighborhood.

We have gone through all the legal entities and done the right thing to get our approvals for this addition and we have won to date much to the distress of our neighbors. Needless to say our success seems to have served to only fuel the anger of both already angry and bitter parties who incidentally have everything that one could desire in terms of space. Our addition is respectful of the history, minimally visible, and very modest space-wise (less than 500 sq ft). On the day of our legal victory one of the (4) neighbors cam forth and verbally abused me in front of my husband and lawyer in a hearing room full of people....since then he has proceeded to verbally harass both of us whenever he gets a chance such as when we are out running errands and happen to cross paths. When my husband asked him to stop this behavior and informed him that he left us no choice other than to have a restraining order imposed on him he said very boldly to "go ahead". This man has some serious anger management issues which we have witnessed over the past few years and been alarmed by. I know this man is capable of violence. I am afraid to walk out the door; I am afraid for my family. He has already called our house once to harass us and when asked to stop his response was to tell us to have our number changed. We have already called the police on the other neighbor once due to physical harassment and he seems to have backed off. Wonder if there is any other way to handle this in a peaceful way first. We have no idea where this intense wave of anger and hatred has come from. We have been very nice to them; neither my husband nor I are confrontational people oftening shying away from conflict altogether. We now know this man is filled with reckless anger and may hurt us. What was a fairly normal life seems to have now been displaced by one of anxiety, fear and sadness at these people's behavior all because we are trying to carve out a slightly better life for ourselves that we are perfectly within our rights to do. Any suggestions on how to deal with these people?

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Fri, 01/30/2009 - 09:25

"Harassed" is a member of the NRA and is in full support of the second amendment.

That said, if you feel you have to arm yourself against a neighbor, things are already way out of line. I do however agree, I doubt he's mad at "you" he's mad about not getting his way. Not that the reason matters at this point.

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Thu, 01/29/2009 - 17:18

"karma will do it's thing, just give it time...good usually wins over evil given enough time." I am hoping this can happen too (taken from a response to Petrova's unfortunate story).

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Thu, 01/29/2009 - 12:56

We think this man's anger is coming from being a sore loser at this point. He has lost all the appeals so far that he has made against us and the last hearing was a bit of joke on him where he fumbled for words to state what his problem exactly was...and there were a few guffaws from the audience because he was blatantly lying as a response to a few questions posed by the judge (we had one or two supporters present; I don't know for a fact whether it was one of them who laughed). Basically, I suppose he has felt an increasing sense of failure and humiliation at having lost. His wife is also extremely domineering (in public) and has often been seen to treat him with a lack of respect so it may also be displaced aggression to a certain degree (especially since quite a bit of his aggresion has been aimed directly at me possibly as a way to get back husband to react physically?)...who knows...I'm not a psychologist. I am a pacifist, though, which brings to me the suggestion that I should exercise my 2nd amendment right. With all due respect to "harassed" I think it is acceptable to exercise this right...in the face of a militia perhaps...but when you need to resort to it against your neighbor...that is truly stretching the boundaries of defining a civilised society. When that happens the difference between civilized and uncivilized becomes razor thin in my mind...I would need to ask myself if it would indeed be a better life for me and my family should I need to exercise this right against my neighbor on a daily basis. If it is I have already lost.

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Thu, 01/29/2009 - 09:54

AH, keyword..."philanthropic" often comes along with being a member of a philanthropic org, such as the Rotary, Lions, Shriners, etc...and, if that's the case, I can assure you, that is NO WAY a Rotarian, Shriner or other social group would be respected for behaving...if such is the case, a gentle reminder of that may speak to him in his own language.

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Thu, 01/29/2009 - 07:13

[i]I wonder why he is filled with so much anger.[/i]

Well, now that's the 64 thousand dollar question isn't it? Just out of curiousity, have you ever just calmly asked? I realize you'd probably get a tirade of an answer, and surely not suggesting you do it at this stage...just asking. By this point, he's probably not even pissed at you, he is pissed at what you represent, you represent him not getting his way and he's stomping his feet and pouting about it.

These "little guy" laws you mention, one thing you have to keep in mind is that these laws are created with the logic of sane, rational adults are the ones using them. This guy just wants to be a hassle now.

What you are teaching your kids...yeah, we have thought about that in our own situation, but of course our situation is much easier for the kids to be completely unaware of most of it, yours is not, hard to ignore snot on the windows...there are many lessons to be learned...how to stand up for yourself, when to ignore, and one very important lesson...that one that teaches some people you just want to stay away from cuz they just ain't right...

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Thu, 01/29/2009 - 06:23

Thanks newbie. My husband and I are now a paper thin edge away from giving up this fight to stay in our home but keep coming back to the question about what this teaches our child. Our only response so far has been to tell this person once calmly to stop doing this but of course this is not ever going to work.  I certainly don't wish to teach my child that standing up for your rights means fighting back in kind because obviously it would mean sinking to their level. They have no respect for people it seems.

We live in an exclusive neighborhood in this city by virtue of the fact that my husband purchased this house when things were actually affordable. We could never afford this house now but since that is the case we consider it to be an investment for a rainy day. It is sad and disenfranchising to see that even people who are supposedly educated and  claiming to be "philanthropic" citizens can be so vile and vicious when it comes to someone who will change the status quo..which we will by adding a third floor to our house for which we have won approval from all city agencies so far. But there is a flaw in the system which allows the small guy to cause much damage to the other small guy...it was a system meant to protect but can be severely abused as in this case. We have gone through all the right channels, hired architects, engineers, lawyers, the best contractors to assure that all will be carried out smoothly with no harm done to anyone's properties. It has cost us a tremendous amount already before having begun the construction even and we are feeling the financial pressure heavily. The reason we are not walking away is because of our strong belief in our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These neighbors (on both sides unfortunately) have built up quite a reputation around here for wanting to control what goes on not only on this block but this neighborhood. I am not white but my husband is...I have traveled the world and never had any issues with racism. I have been fortunate to meet people who have been kind and generally very good, decent people everywhere I have been. I have never seen anything like what I am seeing now. It is baffling to see this happen even when we have done nothing that can be construed as harmful to these people. All we are trying to do is add a very modest, tasteful addition (meaning room literally) to our house. So now we are both wondering if this is racially driven though we can do nothing about it...it will open up another can of worms for which we have no contingency.

The latest incident was that the (psycho) neighbor who has been blowing mucous on our windows piled up a small mountain of snow right outside our door...a way of saying f... you, I suppose. I wonder why he is filled with so much anger. We had to resort to huge amounts of mental strength and composure to not react and quietly shovel it away and go about our business. But later in the day we looked at each other and asked if we each knew what was on the other's mind. These sorts of things are difficult to ignore entirely really. They do affect your life. I am just wondering when we can say enough is enough. Why should we have to be driven out of our house?...My husband has, incidentally, been here the longest of any of them. He worked very, very hard to save up enough to buy this house by himself without any help many years ago. If we leave all that toil will have been in vain and these people will have a message loud and clear that their nefarious tactics will have been successful and they will continue to do this to anyone they want to do it to in the future.

What a waste of energy and resources...if we look at the total cost to all the city agencies, of all the tax payer dollars (because they have appealed all the city agency approvals so far so the city has to send its lawyers and we have to hire one privately on top of that) to defend its position...the cost of it all is tremendous.

And the fact remains that even if we succeed in building this these people will be here forever and will probably continue to affect our lives negatively forever....but by then at least we will have prevailed and can strengthen our resolve to ignore ignore ignore. It is a difficult decision...to leave or to stay.

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Mon, 11/24/2008 - 09:43

I don't think this is insignificant AT ALL. This neighbor of yours is beating people, coming on your yard and blowing mucus on your windows, threatening you IN the courtroom and outside the courtroom. This fellow has some serious problems.

Keep going about your business, but do not engage this man in any way, he sounds like a time bomb ready to blow.

If you are in America, remember to exercise your second amendment rights, this guy sounds dangerous.

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Sun, 11/23/2008 - 17:23

This sounds to me like a case of even if you win your appeal, you really don't win anything. So you win, you can keep building, he can keep blowing snot on your window and assaulting people. Bad deall all the way around.

The saddest part is, it sounds like nobody will really ever do anything until somebody gets hurt, and by then, it may be a "first offense" so nothing will happen anyway...or very little.

I can appreciate your position more than you may know...it's interesting you mention keeping their UPS stuff, helping when their alarm went off and so on. As we had done countless things in our case too, a couple times including taking their kids in after school when mom decided not to be there when her kindergartner got off the bus...imagine the emotional toll on that poor kid.

It's sad, it's unwinable. Victory typically isn't a win in this situation.

Best of luck.

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Sun, 11/23/2008 - 14:15

Thank you for all those who replied with your wise advice. I feel that our problems seem insignificant in comparison to some of the horrendous stories I have read in this forum. To answer one person's questions about how we were being treated before: somewhat oddly as there was always something off about their responses, e.g. whenever we held their UPS packages until they got home and then personally delivered it to them, or when we talked to the police everytime their home alarm went off, or kept an eye on the babysitter at their request...never once did we get a thank you. I was often called sweetie in a condescending way which I simply ignored at the time; silly things really. Now in hindsight it sort of makes sense to me as being passive aggressive behaviour all along. There was always an odd, underlying current of subtle aggression from both the husband and the wife.

More recently, after we won an appeal against us this psycho neighbor came up to me in the hearing room while my husband and I were talking with our lawyer and verbally abused me saying I had been giving him the finger and that I was a vile, disgusting woman. (I had done nothing of the sort of course) We feel this affront was intended for one purpose only...to get some form of physical reaction from one of us. We all remained calm of course primarily because we were taken by such surprise and completely dumbfounded at the crass, mentally imbalanced behviour.

Also, during the hearing when I turned to my left because I sensed some beady eyes staring at me, to my shock I saw that he was indeed glaring at me with a maniacal look and mouthing the word f.... you repeatedly to me; and then he proceeded to take out his cell phone to take pictures of me. As soon I had realized what was going on after my initiial shock, I quickly nudged my husband to alert him of this insane behaviour at which the psycho quickly put his cell phone down. The very next day he stopped my husband on the street and called him and a...hole. My husband told him calmly that if he could not control himself we would have call the police at which he boldly replied "Go ahead". We filed a police report for verbal harassment. I have been carrying a mace spray since then. I have a hunch that this man is fully capable of and probably primed to inflict some form of physical assault on one of us if the opportunity presents itself. I have also seen him in the past (about two years ago) trying to club a street person (meaning making repeatedly swings with the stick falling just short of hitting the cowering person's head) over the head with a fat stick that he produced from his the trunk of his car late one night when I was working at my office downstairs. It was too late to call the police at the time as the street person fled in terror. I remember standing in a corner of my office watching this scene unfold utterly staggered by this man's behaviour. I had kept my distance from him since. I really wish I had acted quickly and called the police then. Fortunately no one was hurt.

Back to the current situation: A few days of quiet ensued the incident in the hearing room. Now he has resorted to blowing his nose every day on the exterior glass window of our office downstairs on which the copies of our building permits have been affixed. Fortunately they have been taped on from the inside so we don't have to keep replacing them. We do, however, are cleaning the window everyday. I am unable to put a hidden camera at the moment in order to confirm that it is indeed the psycho who is doing this although we are 98% sure. I would have to get an electrician to get some wiring in that area of the office; I just don't have the money to spare at the moment due to all the unforeseen legal expenses. It has never happened before and why only on the permits? There is a strong chance that we are correct about the culprit.

There was also some liquid thrown on the door handle to our home entrance. He has appealed the approval granted to us to proceed with the building. Our process has therefore been delayed for another six months. This is the last stage of their chances to appeal. Our lawyer is confident that we will prevail. It has become apparent to us that this man simply cannot control his anger and is in need of psychiatric helps perhaps. We have been told by some friends to stay on our guard and expect things to get worse. This process has already cost us so much money with legal fees that it is seriously affecting our financial ability to go on with the building (which has not yet started). We don't want to give up and leave as we feel it is our right to be able to improve our property and to remain in our house where we have lived for more than 20 years.

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Tue, 10/14/2008 - 07:18

If this guy will rip into you in front of your lawyer in a hearing room, then dare you to get a restraining order, well, this doesn't sound to me like a guy you can be diplomatic with.

Kind of makes one appreciate and maybe understand why our government refused to negotiate with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, eh? Some folks just can't be reasoned with.  ???

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Tue, 10/14/2008 - 05:44

My first thought was wondering how they treated you before this addition to your home project started...thereby trying to figure out if it's the addition that has them that hot or not.

As far as a peaceful way, it would seem your one neighbor only responded to the police being called. You have tried with the other neighbor and it appears to have only emboldened him, it seems to me you have no choice but to follow through on your threat of the police now.

While what Petrova said about asking to work it out is valid, from what it sounds like to me is that this neighbor doesn't want it worked out. It couldn't hurt to try, or perhaps just flat out ask what specifically has him so pissed off...

Re: verbally and psychologically abusive neighbor

  • Tue, 10/14/2008 - 05:36

Hello Infobug,
[quote="Infobug"]We have no idea where this intense wave of anger and hatred has come from[/quote] I wouldn't worry your head about where it's come from - people that behave in this fashion are rarely understood by 'normal' folks. If anything, it's good that you don't understand it, coz that means that you're nothing like them.
[quote="Infobug"]Wonder if there is any other way to handle this in a peaceful way first.[/quote] Well you know your neighbour better than I, one thing I've learnt with the psycho in my life is to trust your gut instinct - do you really think that any other tactic other police protection will work? If you do...then maybe a letter pro-offering an olive branch could be one option, asking them outright if you can sort this out between yourselves.
If the answer's 'no' then you know what you've got to do - call the police at each and every single incident. Given that you are already fearful for your family - I'd go for the police option, and further back it up with an injuction or restraining order. I know you say that you're not confrontational people, but you need to feel safe in your own home.
Welcome  ;)

Petxx