How do I get my elderly neighbor to stop harassing me?
posted by SkylitDrawl to Human Relations (65 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
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.