Not Exactly Mister Rogers
January 28, 2014 4:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I get my elderly neighbor to stop harassing me?

I think one of my neighbors is sexually harassing me, and I am at a complete loss as to what to do about it. I like in an apartment. I have been at this complex for a little over a year, but have only begun to have trouble with this neighbor for the past three months or so. I am a woman in my late twenties, and my neighbor is in his late seventies, for what it is worth.

In November or so, neighbor cornered me in the apartment complex parking lot, and asked if I would go to dinner and movie with him some time because he was very lonely and wanted to get out of the house more often. I didn't immediately consider this request strange, as I spend time regularly with some of the elderly women in the apartment complex and help them with things like getting groceries or taking them to the doctor when I am free. So, I guess this is the part where I was incredibly naive - I assumed that neighbor's interest in dinner and movie was completely innocent and nonsexual, so I didn't immediately tell him I was not interested. Neighbor told me that all of his relatives and all the people he knew outside the apartment complex were dead, so he had no one to spend time with. He said he could use a friend. I (wrongly) thought that he meant a platonic friend who he could spend time with, and so I told him that it might be possible for us to go out to eat or to a movie occasionally. Neighbor then threw me for a loop by telling me in a very husky and frankly creepy voice that, "if we went out, he might not be able to keep himself from taking advantage of me". All my red flags started waving at that point, because UM WHOA WTF THE TENOR OF THIS CONVERSATION JUST CHANGED. I told neighbor that I was only interested in being his friend, not in dating him, and he said that there would be no point in going out together then if I wasn't interested in "physical things". I reminded neighbor that I have been dating the same person on and off for about five years, and that neighbor had met my boyfriend only a few months before during the summer months. Neighbor told me that what my boyfriend didn't know wouldn't hurt him. I ended the conversation pretty abruptly there by making an excuse about needing to go check on my dog, and went back inside my apartment because I felt kind of frightened.

That was three or so months ago, and I have managed to successfully avoid neighbor for the most part since then. I know that avoiding neighbor is is cowardly of me, but I have an incredibly difficult time with confrontation, especially confrontations with men who express sexual interest in me, where I don't know how they will escalate when I reject them. Neighbor did get my phone number from one of the elderly woman in the apartment complex (this probably goes without saying, but I didn't give this woman permission to give my phone number out), and calls me several times a day, usually while I am at work. I ignore all of his calls and do not listen to the messages he sometimes leaves.

However, I was (again) naive to think that I could avoid neighbor forever. Last night, I took my dog outside to go to the bathroom. When she was finished and I brought her back inside, I left my door unlocked for only a few minutes, so I could unharness my dog and let her go play before finishing up errands. This was absentminded of me and I should have locked the door immediately, but I guess I can't change things now. In the 3-4 minutes that it took me to unharness my dog, my elderly neighbor tested my door, found it unlocked, and let himself into my apartment. No knock, nothing, just came right in. Obviously, I was in complete shock at this pretty stunning railroading of my space and boundaries. He asked if he could sit down for a second. I told him no, that I'd like him to leave immediately. He came into the living room anyway. At this point, I was scared shitless, to put it bluntly. My body language couldn't have been more clear, but either he didn't pick up on how frightened I was or just didn't care. He demanded to know why I had been avoiding him and not answering his phone calls. I told him he was making me feel very uncomfortable and that I needed him to leave my apartment. He told me he didn't mean to be pushy, but he just wanted to take me out on a nice date. I told him that I just wasn't interested in that, and he told me again that he was very lonely that he just wanted to take me out so he could get out of his house some. He said he would take me to dinner and take me dancing. Again, I reiterated that I was VERY uncomfortable and that I was a very busy person with barely any time to go out, and that I had a partner who I was very much in love with, but he persisted in talking about all of the great things we could do if I just went out with him. The entire time he was in my living room, I was wracking my brain trying to come up with some way to convince him to leave or to get myself out of the apartment without getting myself physically hurt. Finally, I used the excuse that I needed to take the trash out. At this point, I went into my kitchen and got my trash, and neighbor followed me out of the apartment. I took the trash out, ran back to my apartment, and locked myself inside.

I called my boyfriend immediately after the incident and he told me to go to the apartment manager and the police, since neighbor came into my apartment completely uninvited and that has to somehow be illegal. As advised, I spoke to the apartment manager this morning about the incident in the parking lot, the constant phone calls, and neighbor letting himself into my apartment. I reminded her of the clause in the leases of our apartment complex about harassment of people in other apartments. She basically told me that I needed to solve this problem with neighbor myself. She told me that if he persisted in being an issue, I could report him to her again especially if he touches me, but that evicting someone just costs far too much money for her to just "take me at my word here".

I am reaching out to you, Metafilter, because I am a loss as to what to do next. Should I involve the police at this point? I am not sure if I would be justified in speaking to the police or not, since neighbor hasn't touched me at all. Do I REALLY need to work this out with my neighbor myself? My boyfriend has suggested that he talk to neighbor about this, but I REALLY REALLY don't feel like that would be safe and think it would just further escalate the situation. What should my next steps be here? Thanks for any advice you guys can give me, I really appreciate it.
posted by SkylitDrawl to Human Relations (64 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yes, you should involve the police. Now.
posted by jayder at 4:40 PM on January 28 [77 favorites]


Yes, police!
posted by ecsh at 4:40 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Yes, it is illegal for people to come into your apartment uninvited. It doesn't matter if he touched you or not. You really do need to call the police and tell them what happened.
posted by bleep at 4:41 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


And look into an order of protection/restraining order.
posted by jayder at 4:41 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Call the police. One time a roommate of mine was harassed/stalked, and we called the police about it. They sent out a nice, well-trained officer who was the one tasked with such things. The officer was able to give us good advice on how to handle it, based on the particular situation. So basically my point is that calling the police does not necessarily have to be an aggressive action.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:42 PM on January 28 [16 favorites]


First thing first - you did everything right. You were clear in your intentions and your boundaries, you spoke up when he crossed them, you tried to reach out to someone for help right away. Bravo!

While what your apartment manager said was kinda dickish, I can understand them not wanting to be involved, and also encouraging you to work this out on your own - but I don't think he's coming from a place of "sucks to be you," it's more their being unsure what to do himself, or maybe he thought you were expecting HIM to call the police and was encouraging you to do that yourself. Because yeah, you should.

Another good resource would be RAINN or a similar sexual assault crisis helpline - even though you may be thinking "but I wasn't raped yet," they're trained to help people who get into weird situations like this, and at the very least would know if there's someone else you can call.

But yeah, time to call the police - and then pat yourself on the back for standing up for yourself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:45 PM on January 28 [22 favorites]


Can you enlist some of the older women in the complex? This loss of filter is fairly common in older men. (Or, he may have been a lifelong creep.)

You definitely need to tell the apartment management.

And on preview, what Stew riffic said. Police won't just haul him off and throw him in a cold cell
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:47 PM on January 28


This is a scary thing. You're right to be scared. Do go to the police station. Take boyfriend with you, if that will help. Or another supportive friend.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:47 PM on January 28


You describe him as "elderly" and I'm not sure exactly how old you mean, but this might be a medical issue. Of course he could be a horrible creep, and his actions are totally inappropriate. But aggressiveness and inappropriate behavior are also signs of mental health issues that the elderly sometimes have.

I would report all of this to the police right away. But I would also find a local elder advocacy organization and call them and talk to them about it. They might be able to offer someone who can come out and talk to him and do the kind of intervention that will prevent this from turning into a situation where the police harm someone with a mental health problem - something all too common these days.
posted by jardinier at 4:49 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]


Police. Plus, this means they'll have it on record in case he pulls something like this again.

If he speaks to you at all, always reply with, "No, that won't be possible." Be firm and consistent.
posted by mochapickle at 4:50 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


You are probably dealing with someone whose faculties are declining. Inappropriate sexual behavior - which is a delightful symptom of cognitive decline - is certainly disturbing from someone old enough to be your grandfather (and even worse from your actual grandfather), and can be especially problematic if he thinks (either all the time or periodically) that you are someone he already has a sexual relationship with.

You need to get the police involved because you do not have the resources or legal status to get him any help. Call the non-emergency number, they will probably send over a pair of cops who are especially good at this sort of thing (or actually qualified to do an initial competence check on the guy, depending on your local social services procedures). They will talk to the guy. If he's sharp, he'll take the warning and leave you alone. If he's not, you need to have this initial discussion already on record so that any additional aggressive or ILLEGAL behavior from him is dealt with in an escalated manner.

You cannot talk an old man out of dementia, nor can your boyfriend. Restraining orders don't help when the recipient doesn't remember he has one.

You will not be blamed for the behavior of a 70-80 year old man.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:51 PM on January 28 [28 favorites]


Also, Gift of Fear. It's practically a cliche here for these types of questions, but for valid reasons.
posted by mochapickle at 4:51 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Call the police and report this and then inform the manager that you have involved the police and that this is a serious issue and you expect them to be responsive. Then, send a registered letter to the manager stating the same. Keep a record of all events.

There will probably be people who will brush this off as a harmless old man's fantasies, but his behavior is cause for concern and is not to be blown-off or excused. Also, it's not your responsibility to try to advocate for him. In fact, he may interpret that as interest on your part.
posted by quince at 4:52 PM on January 28 [11 favorites]


Krav Maga. You should not be living in fear of what might happen from a seventy year old man. You need some self-defense lessons, not because I think you should attack someone, but because you should feel like you could if the need arose. I want so badly to hug you and then help you to practice kicking dummies in the balls until you feel safe. Please take the steps you need to help you feel safe.
posted by valoius at 5:10 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]


Yes, police report, and please email or mail a paper report to the landlord so you have documentation of reporting this. Even if the police tell you they can't or won't do anything, at least you'll have a record started.

Can you start carrying pepper spray when you take your dog outside at night? Yeah, hopefully you won't need it, but you'll feel better just to have it.

And yeah, I think you're past the point of making excuses about being busy or having a boyfriend. "No" and "leave me alone" are complete sentences.
posted by nakedmolerats at 5:15 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Every time you blamed yourself in your post was wrong and made me sad. You did nothing to create this problem. He is completely in the wrong and you are not at fault.
posted by prefpara at 5:28 PM on January 28 [54 favorites]


The police can help you make sense of your options, so talk to them.

Also--not alternatively, but also--might it be possible to get in touch with someone from the man's family? He may not be capable of living on his own anymore, and he may have relatives willing to intervene and get him into another living situation that would be safer for him (and you, of course). Again, this is an additional step after you talk to the police, but it could be worth investigating given your landlord's stance.

I wanted to say, as well, that for someone who struggles with confrontation, you are doing amazingly well at sticking up for yourself with this guy. Your level-headed, firm responses to his boundary-crossing comments and behavior are really impressive.
posted by Meg_Murry at 5:29 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Police, report the incident, file a formal report.

Take the police report copy, and mail it registered mail to the Owner and The Manager along with a short and direct letter....

Dear Owner and Manager,

Since X date, tenant (NAMED Y) in apartment blah blah has made unwelcomed sexual advances towards me, mostly by either cornering me in common areas or phoning me two or three times a day, sometimes leaving messages. I did not give tenant Y my phone number, and I have never responded to his phone calls or messages. I have politely turned down his advances whenever I have encountered him in person.

He's persistent, aggressive, and his actions have caused me considerable worry since this started on X date.

On Blah Date, Tenant Y entered my unlocked apartment and proceeded to confront me in my living room.

Let me repeat, Tenant Y entered my apartment, without knocking and without an invitation, and confronted me in an aggressive manner in my living room.

I have filed a police report, which is included.

This is a very serious situation that is escalating, and it's important for you and Manager to know about it.

I have received advice from the police I would like to discuss with you.... Blah blah... Yada yada.

Sincerely,

You.

----

My sincere advice is for you to get immediate permission to break your lease without penalty and move.

You're not exactly safe where you are, and no restraining order or whatever is going to help you if, say, dementia is involved.

Get professional guidance, file reports, and make plans to move ASAP.

I'm so very sorry, but you're very very lucky nothing worse has happened.

Stay safe and good luck.
posted by jbenben at 5:31 PM on January 28 [33 favorites]


I also want to state that you're not responsible for helping this guy with whatever he's going through. Your only job is keeping yourself safe.
posted by bleep at 5:31 PM on January 28 [8 favorites]


You're going to have to end up moving. I really hate it, but I'm almost completely sure that's what will happen.

INSIST, and I mean INSIST that you break the lease without penalty in that case.
posted by quincunx at 5:39 PM on January 28 [8 favorites]


Wow, what a sucky situation.

nthing everyone who says to get the police involved sooner than later. Also nthing everyone who says that you have done absolutely everything right. That's part of why it sucks so much that you're still having to deal with this guy.

How would you feel about carrying some pepper spray/mace? Just a small little keychain dealy -- you shouldn't need much stopping power to get a 70 year old asshat away from you.
posted by sparklemotion at 5:40 PM on January 28


I know that avoiding neighbor is is cowardly of me, but I have an incredibly difficult time with confrontation, especially confrontations with men who express sexual interest in me, where I don't know how they will escalate when I reject them.

This is not cowardly, this is entirely rational. Of course you should avoid situations in which you feel uncomfortable or at risk.

Neighbor did get my phone number from one of the elderly woman in the apartment complex (this probably goes without saying, but I didn't give this woman permission to give my phone number out), and calls me several times a day, usually while I am at work.

Change your number. Don't give it to your neighbour. You don't need the stress of dealing with this tool, so minimise his opportunities to contact you.

In the 3-4 minutes that it took me to unharness my dog, my elderly neighbor tested my door, found it unlocked, and let himself into my apartment.

NOT COOL.

He asked if he could sit down for a second. I told him no, that I'd like him to leave immediately.


That is good. Continue to assert your boundaries. Do so with more force if you feel safe doing so.

I called my boyfriend immediately after the incident and he told me to go to the apartment manager and the police, since neighbor came into my apartment completely uninvited and that has to somehow be illegal.

It is likely 100% illegal.

I reminded her of the clause in the leases of our apartment complex about harassment of people in other apartments. She basically told me that I needed to solve this problem with neighbor myself. She told me that if he persisted in being an issue, I could report him to her again especially if he touches me, but that evicting someone just costs far too much money for her to just "take me at my word here".

Well, that sucks. You need to document everything, and present this to the apartment manager if this continues. Documenting events as they occur will also assist you if you need to involve the cops or lay charges.

I agree that you need to talk to the cops. At the very least, they can assist you with going through the various options. They may help you get a restraining order.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:53 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Call the police! This is sexual harassment, stalking, harrassment, and probably b&e. It does not matter that your neighbour is elderly. It does not matter that you once said you might consider the possibility of platonically going out with this person. You have made yourself absolutely clear and you owe him nothing. This is a scary and potentially dangerous situation and you have every right to call the police!

If he enters your apartment again, don't talk. Scream. Scream for help. I am 100% serious. If he corners you again anywhere, SCREAM!
posted by windykites at 6:09 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]


Did you tell him to stop? It's not clear if you have told him to leave you alone. Tell him Stop calling me. Leave me alone. Do not contact me in any way.. Get a lawyer to put it on legal letterhead if you want, but put it in writing and keep a copy. Make a complaint to the landlord in writing. In the absence an unambiguous message, the police may do little.
posted by theora55 at 6:13 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


PS you are doing an awesome job so far of standing up for yourself. You've been doing things right. Stop being so hard on yourself.
posted by windykites at 6:13 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]


When you call the police, be sure to tell them that you think he might have dementia. If he does, then maybe they'll have the power to put him in a nursing home or something. Or maybe they'll make more of an effort to contact his family (they might not all be dead like he said), and one of them can come and take him to live with them. No, it's not your responsibility to help him, but framing it that way to the proper authorities might get quicker, easier results.
posted by sam_harms at 6:22 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Police! Police! Police! I know you don't want to unnecessarily escalate things (I have a tendency towards "hide and avoid myself") but this is beyond the pale. Please protect yourself and call the police right this very instant.
posted by teamnap at 6:25 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Depending on the laws where you live, it may well be perfectly legal for him to open the unlocked door of your apartment and walk in. Generally refusing to leave when someone tells you to is trespassing though.

If you have a tresspasser in your apartment call 911. You can call and have the phone somewhere it will pick up your voice while you work the relevant information into your conversation with the intruder if you would rather handle it that way.

Of course your landlord can't evict someone just on your say-so -- they have to go before a judge, who one hopes would want to see some sort of proof like police reports or a restraining order for the behaviour you are describing. Be glad that your landlord isn't willing to evict someone just based on one verbal report -- you won't be thrown out if this man was to tell her you were harrassing him!
posted by yohko at 6:32 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I would gently caution you if last night's circumstance recurs to remove yourself from the apartment immediately. Don't engage him in conversation. Don't pick up your landline and dial 911. Leave and get help.

For what it's worth, as a criminal attorney with experience in both home and personal security, I agree with others that it's very appropriate for you to involve law enforcement. Depending where you're located, that might mean dealing through the police department or notifying them about what's happened and then going into court yourself. I'm not your attorney and I cannot advise you on the best method for your circumstance, but it's a circumstance I have experience with elsewhere, and I've found that good jurisdictional information tends to be available online if you dig around a bit.

Protective/restraining orders get a bad reputation. People claim they just escalate things, or that they're unenforceable. Occasionally that's true. But I have seen them work exactly as they're supposed to. I have also seen unfortunate endings to cases where lesser remedies weren't pursued, and you wonder what if.

Last tip. Several people have recommended pepper spray. If you purchase pepper spray, try to get a practice canister, or else buy two. If the latter, then go someplace reasonably remote. (Seriously. Don't activate pepper spray inside your home just to practice.) Fire one off. Most people carrying pepper spray have never actually used it. God forbid you have to use it, you should know what to expect.

I'm sorry you have to deal with this. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 6:38 PM on January 28 [11 favorites]


I saw something similar to this at my old gym where a number of older people worked out.

This very well can be a medical issue. Call the police and describe what happened, and let them handle it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:49 PM on January 28


You say you haven't listened to his messages, but do you still have them? If so, that's evidence for both the police and the apartment manager.
posted by CKmtl at 7:08 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Inappropriate advances are a common symptom of dementia, which is the likely issue if the man is in his late seventies. It's unlikely you will be able to work out the problem yourself. You should contact the police, but I wouldn't count on them being much help. There is not much they can do other than tell the guy to not go into your apartment or call you. Unfortunately, unless you want to be involved with managing an elderly person with dementia, you should probably make plans to move and change your phone number.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 7:10 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


The entire time he was in my living room, I was wracking my brain trying to come up with some way to convince him to leave or to get myself out of the apartment without getting myself physically hurt.

Hopefully there won't be a next time, but if there is, call your dog and scream. Even if you're paralyzed with fear, your dog will likely bark up a storm, and distract your neighbor, giving you more time to react.
posted by invisible ink at 7:39 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


I don't mean to thread sit, but I want to clarify a few things:

- all of this man's relatives are definitely dead.
- he needs a knee replacement and has diabetes, but if he has dementia, it's a new thing and absolutely nobody in the complex knows about it or suspects anything. He's quite social with the other older people in the complex. I can see how dementia would be a possibility considering his age and maybe he just hasn't expressed this to anyone, but I think one of the older women would at least suspect and would mention it to me, since they are naturally very gossipy.
- I do still have the voicemail messages. My boyfriend has listened to them, I have not.
- I do not really want this man to be evicted. The ideal solution would allow us both to still live in the complex, but without us interacting with one another as much.
- that being said, I realize my best bet is probably to make plans to move. How do I break my lease "without penalty"? The penalty in my case would be one month's rent upfront to the manager, and then paying the owed rent to the complex until they can find someone else to live in my apartment. I can't really afford that on top of paying rent somewhere else, so advice on breaking the lease without penalty would be appreciated.
- I will file a police report tomorrow.

Thanks everyone!
posted by SkylitDrawl at 7:53 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


If his dementia is still in its early stages, it's not uncommon for him to be fine during the day but for it to set in around evening. Depending on his routines, the gossipy older ladies may have no way of knowing.

As to moving, I would just speak with the manager and ask that either she enforce the harassment clause in your lease or she let you break the lease without penalty. If the rental market is doing well in your area, it's likely that she'll agree. It might be worth getting in touch with your local tenants' rights organization so that you're informed as to your rights re: the harassment clause when you talk to her.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 8:21 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


The advice for being attacked is to scream and draw attention, so you and others can outnumber the bad person.

Imagine the situation occurring again (providing that is not too traumatizing); except this time, you are screaming your head off and running away. People tend to freeze up in terrifying or high-pressure situations, which is why soldiers and athletes train so much. They can rely on instinct instead of the frozen high-level thought. So "practice" this situation (and maybe others) in your mind except you get out of there as fast as possible while drawing as much attention as possible.

And then call the police.
posted by flimflam at 8:25 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Keep your eyes peeled for him and maybe aim to be escorted around your complex for awhile. Seriously. And my recommendations, in order, are:

1. Police report now.

2. Apply for a restraining order (an anti stalking order if available.)

3. Go nowhere without your phone. Call 911 at once if he approaches you again.

4. Notify your landlord. Provide them with a copy of your restraining order.

Your job here is to take care of yourself. Let everyone else figure out what mental health resources are available for him. Do not get sucked into his demands for your attention to his needs because he just is unsafe for you.
posted by bearwife at 8:49 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Imma say this as gently and as directly as possible....

I think you may be in shock and you're not thinking clearly. This is very serious and requires your immediate participation.

This can not end with you both living in the same complex. Hon, he's stalking you, and he's broken into your apartment while you were home in order to confront you.

This is a crime. You need to call 911. Now. It's Ok that the incident was a few hours or even a day earlier. The threat to your safety has not abated one iota since this guy was in your apartment.

Call 911 right now. Meet the police at your apartment right now. Describe the break in. Let them hear the messages. Does your caller ID or phone bill log him many times a day he calls you? Share that documentation with the officers, as well.

They will ask you if you want to press charges. Your answer should be YES.

I guess you can say "No," but then what? You wait for the guy to corner you again in a deserted car park or hallway? You wait until he breaks in again? Or attacks you while you are walking your dog?

Nope. Not worth the risk. Press charges.


It's kinda scary how you are playing this down. I'm concerned for you.

Maybe you're used to dealing with whacko's - hell, I am, too!

However, the buck stops when aggression is mixed with sexual harrassment and implied or overt threats.

As someone else who is female and old enough to be your mom/aunt, I promise you this is the sort of thing that ends badly unless you take action. I wish we were not vulnerable to sexual assault, but we are. Even if you think you can "take" this guy in a fight, don't think like that. Assume you don't ever want to risk having to defend yourself like that since right here and now, by calling 911, you can ENTIRELY avoid that risk to yourself this time.

I can get you out of your lease, no problems. But I can't put you in position to get out of your lease if you don't protect yourself by calling the police.

The one time I had something serious happen and I declined to press charges, I sorely sorely regretted it afterwards. Like you, I was in shock. I will never make that mistake again. Don't you make that mistake now.

If you're asked, press charges. Just do it.


Memail me or repost a new AskMe for help with that lease. That part is easy.

For now just stay safe by calling the police.

Best to you.
posted by jbenben at 8:54 PM on January 28 [16 favorites]


if he has dementia, it's a new thing and absolutely nobody in the complex knows about it or suspects anything. He's quite social with the other older people in the complex. I can see how dementia would be a possibility considering his age and maybe he just hasn't expressed this to anyone, but I think one of the older women would at least suspect and would mention it to me, since they are naturally very gossipy.

Think of it this way. There are only two possibilities here. He has dementia (where dementia includes everything from Alzheimer's to taking a medicine that mimics dementia) and therefore the kindest thing you can do FOR HIM is to get the police involved, so they can get social services involved, or he DOESN'T have dementia and is actively choosing to harass and stalk you, up to and including waltzing into your home uninvited, in which case no one on earth will blame you for calling the police.

Either way, the right thing to do is to call the police.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:05 PM on January 28 [8 favorites]


I get that you don't want to have an elderly man evicted from his home. That sounds really horrible. But rewrite it as: I made the apartment complex in which many women live a safe place by forcing a dangerous and openly predatorial man to find another place to live. You deserve and your neighbours deserve to be safe in your homes. He can find another place to live and bear the hassle and strain of moving home as a direct consequence for his awful awful behaviour.

Don't feel guilt over complaining to the police and your landlord and getting him evicted. Feel good for fighting to keep yourself and other vulnerable people safe.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:05 PM on January 28 [11 favorites]


none of this is your fault. do not permit a 70 y.o. letch to force you from your home. option #1 is the police, which you should have done by now. if option #1 fails and you find him again uninvited in your apartment, option #2 is the castle doctrine.
posted by bruce at 9:20 PM on January 28


As something of a yardstick of how out of line dude's behavior is -- the way you describe just the entering your apartment bit makes it sound like it comes close to or actually meets the criteria for the castle doctrine in my state. In other words, speaking rhetorically rather than legally, it would arguably not have been out of line for you to run him through with a spear first, then call the police. Or for the next person to.

(Hence, calling for intervention is not inconsistent with being concerned for the safety of an elderly neighbor. Behaving like this could get him seriously injured or killed.)

My point: You have not done anything at all wrong. Your approach to this problem so far seems to be from the basis of wanting to extend kindness to another person and of having the expectation that people around you will, as they almost always do, follow some of the more basic rules of things we don't do to one another. That says good things about you, not bad things. This guy has done the wrong thing, and it is a BIG wrong thing -- and not realizing at first just how out of line he was is also a common and reasonable reaction. Which also may be driving the reaction of your landlord, but in any case the landlord needs to be brought to Jesus that this is not a loud stereo problem.

You are absolutely right to expect that this problem should be dealt with. Call the police.
posted by sparktinker at 9:45 PM on January 28


I'm sorry I can't exactly answer your follow-up question about how to break your lease.

Once you've called the police and have some action on the case, the process becomes a whole lot easier to map out for you.

Knowing your jurisdiction, helps, too.

Right now you're on the hook for all the penalties. Once you file a police report/press charges , it becomes HEAPS easier for you to negotiate a quick clean exit.

Incidentally, is the manager the owner? What type of complex is this? How many units? Is it a small landlord or a corporation?
posted by jbenben at 9:46 PM on January 28


that being said, I realize my best bet is probably to make plans to move. How do I break my lease "without penalty"? The penalty in my case would be one month's rent upfront to the manager, and then paying the owed rent to the complex until they can find someone else to live in my apartment. I can't really afford that on top of paying rent somewhere else, so advice on breaking the lease without penalty would be appreciated.

I have had a somewhat similar situation before, and basically I went in, in person, with the security cop on duty and the manager and told them all, and got upset enough that they had to take it seriously. They offered to move me to another unit (it was a big complex) with no extra charge, and if I had pressed the issue they would have let me break the lease. Most apartment managers really do not want police cars with flashing lights and sirens in their parking lot at 2AM. It's pretty bad for business. Once the police are involved (this is essential) the managers will absolutely pay attention. Unless they really need your rent/they are in a slump/they are just total arseholes, it is a pretty safe bet that they will do whatever they can to avoid police and legal entanglement.
posted by quincunx at 10:42 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


I can get you out of your lease, no problems. But I can't put you in position to get out of your lease if you don't protect yourself by calling the police.

-- jbenben

I know the above statement was made with the best of intentions, but it reads to me like legal advice of dubious value -- how is a fellow MeFite going to get you out of your lease? -- and I would encourage you to be careful about the lease situation.
posted by jayder at 11:05 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Call the police and make a report, first thing today.

And god forbid this should ever happen again, but if it does --- if he enters your home uninvited, if he follows you anywhere, if he corners you someplace --- call the cops immediately! Don't engage in conversation with him, don't explain that you already have a boyfriend or only want to be this old guy's friend not date, don't waste any time at all or offer any explanations whatsoever: if he doesn't get out/back off/whatever at once, CALL THE POLICE. Don't 'request' he leave you alone, DEMAND it. Don't worry about being rude or hurting his feelings, don't turn your back on him, don't call your boyfriend: call the cops right then and there.

A big chunk of the problem is that you are a polite, civilized person, trying to deal with someone who is using that politeness against you. Please don't let him! It doesn't matter if he's lonely or in the early stages of dementia or just plain rude or pushy or oblivious, because he is NOT your responsibility: you are.
posted by easily confused at 2:46 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


Leave the dementia out of it. This man has the mindset that pussy by itself doesn't have the right to be left alone.


...... he had no one to spend time with. He said he could use a friend.

He's quite social with the other older people in the complex.


He's not lonely.

Nthing everyone who says report this to the cops, break the lease and get out pronto.
posted by brujita at 5:06 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Call the police, notify the complex and if, for some reason, you are accosted by this man again the only thing you should say to him is: "I'm afraid of you. Leave me alone!"

We're too conditioned to be polite and non-confrontational, especially with elderly people. Just recognize it, and don't worry about hurting his feelings. Protect yourself.

Inherent in your lease (and all leases) is the right to "quiet enjoyment" of your residence. If you're unable to enjoy your residence because some old perv is harrassing you, it's grounds.

Once you have the police report and once you've filed a formal complaint, in writing, with your complex management, ask to be let out of your lease based on the harrassment, they may agree without hassle, rather than deal with a potentially nasty eviction situation.

You don't know until you ask.

Hang in there, you didn't do anything wrong, you showed compassion to an older person, who, for whatever reasons, took advantage of your kindness.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:44 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


Something else scary to think about: he tried your door, and it happened to be open. That strongly suggests that he has tried it before. And also that he is watching you very closely. You need to take this seriously. If he wasn't old, I don't think you'd feel the need to be as polite as you were, or be reluctant about getting him evicted. This guy is a creep, it doesn't matter how old he is, and I think he is very purposefully manipulating you and using his age to try to gain sympathy.

I hope by now you've followed everyone's advice and called the police, and after you know your options, you should consider having him evicted before moving yourself, he should be punished for his behavior, not you.
posted by catatethebird at 5:44 AM on January 29 [19 favorites]


he needs a knee replacement and has diabetes, but if he has dementia, it's a new thing and absolutely nobody in the complex knows about it or suspects anything. He's quite social with the other older people in the complex. I can see how dementia would be a possibility considering his age and maybe he just hasn't expressed this to anyone, but I think one of the older women would at least suspect and would mention it to me, since they are naturally very gossipy.

I agree with burjita that the "is he or is he not going senile" question is not properly your problem--police departments can get elder services on speed dial, and no matter what is driving behavior, crime (and victim impact) is primarily about the end result for the target, not the motive of the perpetrator. (In other words, courts work out for punishment what the difference is between 1st degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, or not guilty by reason of insanity....but the victim is just as dead in all three cases.)

Also, I can absolutely buy you assertion that he's not actually suffering from dementia. Let's say the majority of older people who act out like this are suffering cognitive decline--but inappropriate, sexually predatory people get old too, only now they're operating freely under the soft-haze, "respect your elders--aren't old people a treasure?--and be kind to the old and lonely" filter. And people like this--narcissists--absolutely see themselves as a Hugh Hefner type who is of course entitled to a partner 50 years younger instead of an elderly woman who might actually find their attention mutually satisfying (or at least not be completely jarred and grossed out by their sexual advances).* Other people have been good about pointing this out, but do not apologize for or second guess yourself for feeling endangered by him just because he holds an AARP card (and the "sad lonely sick old guy with no wife or grandkids" card). Also--if you can buy pepper spray, so can he. So treat him as seriously as a 40 year old, with regards to getting the hell out of your apartment and away from him if he ever corners you again.


*MeMail me to ask me how I know.
posted by blue suede stockings at 5:44 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


Regarding if he is "kicked out" of his home.

That's not your call.

And it wouldn't be your fault.

It would be the result of his actions. He walked into your home and refused to leave! He's menacing a tenant!!!

When people tell the story, months from now (should he be removed), they'll say "yeah, this crazy old guy was menacing women --walking into their apartments!"

What they won't say: "So and so had him thrown out, just because he kept menacing her and walked into her apartment and refused to leave, and kept asking her out. A perfectly nice guy! I'm not sure why she didn't want him calling repeatedly to ask her out and walking into her apartment, asking her out, and refusing to leave. I can't believe there's laws against it!"

NOBODY'S GONNA SAY THAT.

(Somebody will likely say "I wish I'd had the guts to call the police when he did it to me." And someone else will say "I'm new here, but I'm glad I don't have to deal with him.")
posted by vitabellosi at 5:47 AM on January 29 [10 favorites]


If he has dementia, maybe he needs to be kicked out of his home. Maybe he is no longer safe - to anyone including himself - and needs more care.

He is not your responsibility. You are your responsibility. But by maintaining standards for yourself, you are helping every one. If he would behave this way toward you, then he will be inappropriate with others. Someone will eventually be hurt. Get local authorities (either through an elder care agency or police or rape counseling office) and make it crystal clear to management that you are in danger because of another tenant.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:04 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


I'm a tall, non-scrawny guy, and very rarely physically scared (pretty much only from near accidents while driving), but I seriously got chills when I read your neighbor just let himself in to your apartment.

Call the police first and report this. Report that you feel unsafe. Notify your apartment management in writing. Consider if you want to break your lease; given how they tried to hand wave away an unlawful entering by one of their tennents might give you cause.

You're making too many excuses for him. One can second guess everything that they've done, and hind sight is usually better than what we've got at the moment. There is no excuse for someone to enter, unasked, your apartment. Any reasonable person would have understood that you were uninterested from your description of the initial conversation.

I'm sorry to say, but I think this guy was picking up on your lack of assertiveness and looking to see what he was getting away with (I.E. intentional creep, rather than cognitive difficulties). Increasing your assertiveness will likely help in life, but this guy has no excuse.

Seriously, the avalanche of askme is speaking; call the police.
posted by nobeagle at 7:05 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


everything jbenben said, and if it were me I would put it this way to your landlord - they could evict this guy or refuse to renew and restore peace to the complex, or they could deal with the expense of letting you off the hook free and re-renting your apartment (you should not be liable for the month's rent if you document properly and take your case to small claims or housing court in your area), then it will happen again with some other tenant he decides to harass, and in the end this guy will cause so much trouble and possibly even liability risk if they know and do nothing, that it WILL be cheaper for them to evict. getting them to believe it if he is a longstanding tenant who pays on time is going to be hard, but it's absolutely true that he represents major potential future expense and risk they should be thinking twice about, and if they hear the facts framed the right way, it might be him moving and not you.
posted by slow graffiti at 7:07 AM on January 29


I'm an apartment manager and when tenants complain about another they often say, "I don't want her to be evicted. " Unfortunately, the eviction threat is the only tool in my tool box. I tell folks that they aren't going to evict their neighbors, the neighbor's bad behavior is what does it.

So, if he's evicted it won't be your fault at all.
posted by vespabelle at 8:18 AM on January 29 [8 favorites]


I do not really want this man to be evicted. The ideal solution would allow us both to still live in the complex, but without us interacting with one another as much.

Will you still feel that way if he hurts one of your neighbors and you didn't do anything? Yes, the ideal solution would be that he's not doing that thing anymore, and that is the one thing nobody else has any control over (possibly including him).

If he has a cognitive dysfunction, he's not going to tell anyone. He's going to be paranoid that "they" are going to take him "away", which unfortunately is kind of what happens when you can't regulate your behavior. And if he's actually mis-managing his diabetes and that's why his behavior has changed fairly abruptly, he probably doesn't know he's doing it and neither would anyone else.

If the guy is incapable of living independently anymore, or participating appropriately in a community, he needs a different situation.

Obviously there is a powerful Little Old Ladies Brigade there. Are you afraid of running afoul of them if he gets evicted? Or is it possible that if you tell them what he's actually doing, including going into your apartment, that they'll send Oatmeal Opal over with a couple cookies to have a little talk about what is and isn't okay or there will be...consequences? The LOLB is a powerful force, but it can turn on you, and you may only be able to guess what their allegiances are. That doesn't let you off the hook for the police, you have to do that too, but maybe the Ladies can make it so you don't have to do it twice.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:38 AM on January 29


The member of the LOLB who gave out my # without my permission would be on my shitlist. Even if these women don't consider themselves feminists, they came of age at the beginning of the second wave and know quite well how things have changed.
posted by brujita at 10:22 AM on January 29


Wow that is really not ok. that's a home invasion. In addition to getting the police involved, could your boyfriend stay with you fo r awhile? Can you stage some weapons in a discreet and reachable place in your apartment in case he tried to corner you there (like a hidden knife or something?)
posted by WeekendJen at 10:26 AM on January 29


Do not arm yourself. That is a terrible idea. Arming yourself is like breeding dogs - don't do it. It's more difficult than you think, an enormous responsibility, and can easily turn into tragedy.

A whistle or mace would not be out of line.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:50 AM on January 29 [7 favorites]


A whistle is a good idea because it maybe easier to get help rather than trying to scream when you are scared and your voice might give out.

I'm also in agreement with the recommendation to call the cops. Even if they don't do anything besides taking your statement, that will help to get you out of the lease if you decide to move.
posted by tuesdayschild at 12:43 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


I just want to point out that if you DO want to leave, your landlords should be happy to have such an easy solution to the problem they've got, viz., that they've got a tenant harassing another tenant and breaking/entering her home, to the point where she has to involve the police (which you must, by the way. I don't agree with calling 911 to report the incident after the fact, but you should definitely call them and report it and demand that they come up and tell the guy to stay away from you, etc.)

Anyway, my point is, if you want to leave, frame it for them that you're solving a problem for them by removing this unpleasant liability. Talk to whoever is senior enough in the mgmt chain to understand that.

That said, why should you have to leave?? He should leave! He broke-and-entered your home! Ugh!
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:05 PM on January 29


[Folks, stop. Answer the question and take additional RARAR to MeMail or elsewhere.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:35 AM on January 30


First, I would report him to management, because his behavior is completely unacceptable and downright disgusting. I'd also carry pepper spray with me from now on. This guy is a total creep and this is absolutely not the first time he's made a woman feel uncomfortable with his seemingly unapologetic sexist garbage. He's probably a damn rapist from the 70's. What a nightmare.
posted by OneHermit at 1:35 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]


A whistle is one thing, but in an apartment?
Unless you have your windows open, I'm not sure how well the sound would travel.

But if you've ever heard one of those hand-held marine air horns, they are crazy LOUD and the almost instinctual reaction if one is blasted indoors is immediate evacuation.

If you gave a couple-second blast of that thing in your apartment, Mr. Skeevo is going to be out the door in less than 3 seconds--and every neighbor you have is going to be opening their door and looking in the hall to see what the emergency is
(and this guy in you apartment uninvited is an emergency).
posted by blueberry at 1:15 PM on February 13


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