Wanking in the Window
April 15, 2015 7:00 AM   Subscribe

My neighbour directly opposite me has started masturbating in his window whenever I am visible through my window or out on the balcony. How do I get him to stop?

This started on Friday. I've lived in my apartment for over 2 years and this is the first time that this has happened. It was night, and he had a venetian blind pulled down to just above crotch level so that his dick was visible but not his face/body. He had a lamp pointed at his crotch so that we could see what he was doing, so it was definitely not an accident.

The next day I was walking by the window and he opened the curtain and window so that I could see his face and torso as well as his crotch. I yelled at him to put his dick away and closed the curtain.

He has presented himself in this manner (usually with his face/torso hidden) every day since Friday, including about 20 minutes ago when I was out on the balcony with my flatmate discussing what to do about it.

The room facing him is my bedroom and it's not possible to change that. I tried hanging a sheet on the balcony so that i didn't have to see him / he couldn't see me, but that makes my room really dark. I work from home and sometimes I work from my bedroom, sometimes the balcony and now I feel like I am being watched at all times. In fact, he shows up when I show up so it's like he's waiting there at all times. He can see directly into my room from his room and it's SUPER CREEPY knowing that this guy is just watching me, waiting to jerk off whenever he knows I can see him.

I want him to stop. In fact, I want him gone from that apartment but I don't imagine that is an achievable goal so I will settle for not having to watch him jerk off every day for the rest of my time in this apartment. I really like(d) living here and I don't want to move but now I feel uncomfortable living in my own home and I don't know what to do about it, I feel like even if I do get him to stop wanking in the window, that I still wont feel comfortable in my bedroom anymore.

Possibly pertinent details:

- I live in a 4th floor apartment in Berlin. My neighbour lives in the building across the street in the apartment directly opposite mine. I could try and ascertain exactly which apartment # it is, but it is not obvious to me which apartment he is in.
- My German level is... poor. My flatmate is German and she is willing to call the police (if it comes to that) or translate a letter etc. but is not keen on the idea of coming with me and trying to knock on his door and telling him to knock it off.
- I believe he lives with an older man, I've seen the older man on his balcony many times before but this is the first time I've noticed the younger guy so he could be a temporary tenant.
- Prior to now I have always been pretty comfortable in my room, and it is not impossible that he has seen me walking naked to/from the bathroom and/or getting un/dressed. I usually close the curtains, but not always.
- I tried taking photos / video with my camera as evidence to show to the cops or to post under his door with a "cut this shit out" message, but it is impossible to tell who it is in the photos.

My Questions:
1. How do I get him to stop?
2. Do you have experience of this, what was successful/unsuccessful?
3. Is calling the police likely to get him to stop or is it just likely to encourage him?
4. Is there anything the police can do about it without proof?
5. Is there a way to resolve this without involving the police?

6. Bonus question: What is a persons motivation for doing this?

This is way more upsetting than I would have imagined prior to experiencing it. I feel targeted and vulnerable. Please send help!
posted by rubyrudy to Human Relations (53 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My god!! I would call the police immediately. Don't get dragged into his weird sexual power games by trying any other avenue.

Seriously - he's being totally brazen.
posted by JenThePro at 7:02 AM on April 15, 2015 [90 favorites]

I'm not sure what the laws are in Germany, but, that is just ridiculous! Have your flatmate call the police. They know the law and will be able to give you your options. Good Luck!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 7:03 AM on April 15, 2015 [8 favorites]

I don't know anything about Berlin-specific procedures, but speaking very generally, I'd consider videoing this with my phone next time, making sure to get enough visual context that the window/building are identifiable. Maybe he'll think this is great, but it could be helpful as proof or information for the police.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:05 AM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

1. Call the police.
2. Calling the police.
3. It will get him to stop.
4. They can at least scare him by saying that they received a complaint.
5. No.
6. Partly because sexual wiring is weird, and partly because he's a sadistic fuck who is getting off on the fact that you're freaked out. You calling the police will send him the message that you will NOT be too afraid to call in the big guns.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:06 AM on April 15, 2015 [10 favorites]

Best answer: :( This is awful, and I'm sorry.

There is removable film that you can put on your windows to block people from seeing inside, but you still get light through it. We have this one on the windows on our front door.

It's possible that if he knows you can't see him, he will stop. (although definitely pursue all other options. This is really not ok.)
posted by needlegrrl at 7:07 AM on April 15, 2015 [9 favorites]

Definitely have your flatmate call the police and be there to translate for you when they arrive.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:08 AM on April 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

I would not speak to this person. This is not a normal person thing to do, and I would be worried about my safety. More vindictively, I would not want to give him the satisfaction of telling him to knock it off, as he is doing it because it makes you feel upset, and I wouldn't want to give him an in-person view of my upsettedness.

I'm not in Germany and I don't know anything about German laws or the police, but I think if you want him to stop you will have to deny him the outlet of making you uncomfortable. I would either black out the entire window, or if I still wanted to use the window, call the police.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:10 AM on April 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Dude what the fuck? You seem weirdly nonchalant about this.

Plenty of creepers escalate their crimes into more and more serious stuff. In fact, maybe even a majority of them do. Lots of seriously bad news guys start out as peeping toms or whatever.

Just based on typical creepy-dude psychology, he may convince himself you want it or are somehow inviting it by leaving the blinds open/not calling the police. So I think making it very, very clear you do not is a good way to go.
posted by quincunx at 7:16 AM on April 15, 2015 [12 favorites]

The only possible answer is police, yesterday.

And it's strange to suggest that the relevant laws in Germany might be materially different.
posted by turkeyphant at 7:16 AM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

1. I am for real begging you, from one internet stranger to another: Have your flatmate call the police, call them today, call them as soon as you read this comment and all of the ones below it that are sure to beg you to do the same. Dude obviously feels as if he is currently beyond reproach; he is escalating and becoming increasingly flagrant with his law-breaking behavior. The police can and will (must!) handle this.
2. I've had dudes masturbate at me on the subway and the street, but never while I was in my home. Usually screaming, calling attention to him ("what the fuck! this guy has his dick out! GROSS!") and/or hitting him with something works a treat.
3. Calling the police should, at minimum, put the fear of god into him, because what he is doing is illegal in every conceivable jurisdiction. If he doesn't get the gist after one call, keep calling.
4. This will probably depend on the laws in your municipality, but get as much proof as you can -- even if you can't see his face in the photos/videos, it will be clear that you're filming/photographing his residence, and I can't imagine his flatmate would take too kindly to the police's suggestion that he might be the offender instead.
5. Please do not try to do this. I know it's immensely tempting to want to take care of it on your own, but this guy's behavior has already shown in spades that he cannot be reasoned with.
6. Exhibitionism, male entitlement, an unsettling number of dudes get off on non-consensually involving women in their kinks, general creepiness.

Ugh, I'm just so sorry this is happening to you. If you're comfortable doing so, could I recommend reaching out to a sexual assault survivor organization like RAINN? I know what you're experiencing isn't necessarily assault per se, but it's an incredible violation nonetheless, happening in a place where you're unequivocally entitled to feel safe and secure, and you absolutely deserve to work through your feelings about it with someone who knows and cares what you're talking about.

I'll be thinking of you, OP. Good luck.
posted by divined by radio at 7:17 AM on April 15, 2015 [8 favorites]

Call the police and notify your landlord. What he is doing is illegal and one step away from rape. You are in danger, as are any other women that he chooses. He needs to be dealt with. If your landlord offers you another flat, accept it and move.
posted by myselfasme at 7:22 AM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Definitely call the police, or get your flatmate to. This advice site by the police crime prevention unit also says you should ignore the offender and call the police (under "Exhibitionismus". If you feel it doesn't count as an emergency - which would be the 110 number - ring the non-emergency "Bürgertelefon" i.e. Police Advice and Information on 030 4664 4664. If you aren't comfy phoning in German you could a. try English, b. write out a script first or c. go to the local station - enter your address here to find the nearest.

You could also, esp if the police are unhelpful for some reason - which they shouldn't be, this is totally a crime and does go to court here - talk to other people in your building and go to the police together, or even if you feel safe doing it talk to people in his building and try and find out who his landlord is.
posted by runincircles at 7:27 AM on April 15, 2015 [28 favorites]

Call the police, if not for you then for the NEXT victim that is not as strong or more vulnerable than you.
posted by sammyo at 7:35 AM on April 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

While I completely agree with everyone's assessment to call the police, I also want to highlight needlegrrl's comment. These films might be useful if you find that the police are unhelpful or taking a long time to get him to stop and/or you are just plain skeeved out (which I might be) and would like something in your window. Here is a link to a bunch of them. I have one on a small window in my house and they are massively effective at letting in light while blocking visual access and they are non-adhesive so they just stick to the glass without making a mess when you want to take them off. There are actually some very attractive ones.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:36 AM on April 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Bonus question: What is a persons motivation for doing this?

That's hard to say for sure, since different people can be and are attracted to the same kink for different reasons. But! Kinks that revolve around exposure (which includes sex in public or otherwise a risk of being caught, by the way) are theorized at least by some to be a way of temporarily nullifying the shame that a person has associated with themselves and sexuality by creating a direct confrontation with a potential agent of that shame.

With that in mind, this dude may feel bad about himself, his sexuality, or his desire to be sexual, and his behavior is a way for him to take power, not over you, but over the value system in his mind that says he or his desires are bad. What you are experiencing is still gross and almost certainly illegal!! So don't read me wrong; I'm just saying that there are good, grounded theories about your neighbor's actions that go beyond "male entitlement" or "creepers gotta creep" which, while potentially emotionally satisfying, don't really help make sense of anything (to my mind).

So having said that: good luck and definitely call the cops.
posted by Poppa Bear at 7:43 AM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Call the cops; this is what they're there for, after all.

Don't engage with him: that just gives him exactly what he wants from you, which is your attention.
posted by easily confused at 7:51 AM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't know the laws there, but in the U.S., this would be on the level of call the cops and report it, and if it's realistically possible, provide photo or video for proof. It's blatantly criminal, here - and likely to escalate.

Don't interact directly with him.
posted by stormyteal at 8:00 AM on April 15, 2015

Response by poster: Okay, we heard your overwhelming chorus of "call the police" and my flatmate just called the local police station. According to her, when she described what was happening the officer said "and this bothers you?" and then he said "everyone is free to do whatever they want in their own flat". So she pressed him some more and he finally told her that we could try making a list of times that it happens and that we should call the emergency number next time we see him do it "if it's bothering us". So I guess we'll try that, but I wasn't overwhelmed by their initial response.

quincunx - Berlin is full of exhibitionists, and I'm used to them. I guess I feel like this guy is just some escalation of that, I could be way off base here and I suspect I am, which is part of why I posted the question. I find him more annoying than threatening, perhaps this is naive of me.
posted by rubyrudy at 8:03 AM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I experienced a similar situation in a different country just this past week, I phoned the non-emergency number to file a police report, and was told that this situation qualifies as an emergency and that I should phone the emergency number if it ever happens again.

You can also call the police and ask to speak English. They will understand "penis," "masterbation" and "neighbour".

On preview, to the update: wow.
posted by monkeymonkey at 8:03 AM on April 15, 2015

wtf Berlin police?

You may want to try your local consulate or embassy if you don't get through to a non-fuckstick police officer next time.

This is a crime being perpetrated on you and you have every right to treat it as such.
posted by fullerine at 8:10 AM on April 15, 2015 [8 favorites]

Damn, sorry about the police. I'm definitely a sheltered American but even in a culture way more accepting of sex/nudity/whatever- this should be taken more seriously. He's targeting you. He's not just "doing whatever he wants in his own flat."

Plan B: Get shades, never open the windows. Hope he moves on to someone else who also reports him and the complaints stack up too much to ignore.
posted by quincunx at 8:18 AM on April 15, 2015

Seconding consulate! You should not have to put up with this, you should be able to use your balcony and your bedroom. Is there somewhere else you could go to do your work? You shouldn't have to but if no one in authority is going to help you stop this you may need to look for a temporary alternative workspace.
posted by mareli at 8:21 AM on April 15, 2015

Best answer: Here are some places, support groups, programs in Berlin that might be able to help, they're specifically for English speakers.
posted by mareli at 8:23 AM on April 15, 2015

Really sorry you got a non-functioning police officer. Seconding consulate, and different/other polices at different times, also try your landlord and the ordnungsamt? (German law is funny about your house being your castle - but this surely has to include being free from this sort of attack in your own flat! I will sic my very savvy German flatmates on this case this evening)
posted by runincircles at 8:28 AM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I wouldn't give up on the police just because you got one idiot on the telephone. Try getting some evidence of his repeated behaviour on your phone and then actually visiting a police station.

You should also consider contacting local feminist groups and letting them know not only about the masturbation but also the police officer's response. This is a real story, and you can definitely take it further than this.
posted by cincinnatus c at 8:28 AM on April 15, 2015 [41 favorites]

You should also consider contacting local feminist groups and letting them know not only about the masturbation but also the police officer's response. This is a real story, and you can definitely take it further than this.

Yep, this is a great idea. I'm so sorry the officer you dealt with was so insensitive and dismissive -- would you consider contacting an organization like Stop Street Harassment Germany and sharing your story with them? They might have access to more localized resources and maybe even law enforcement solutions that are more amenable to your safety and well-being than what that one jerk of a P.O. chose to offer.
posted by divined by radio at 8:44 AM on April 15, 2015 [11 favorites]

2nd cincinnatus c - I'd bet the cop thought you were just freaking out at some guy masturbating at home and didn't grasp (or want to grasp) the intentional nature of the exhibition. Although - because this guy conceals his face/eyes/gaze, it may be hard to establish that his behaviour is directed at you, specifically, and not just any passers-by. So in case that matters, when you're gathering whatever evidence you can, I think attending to timing could be important.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:07 AM on April 15, 2015

Best answer: Besides calling the police, why not close curtains or shades all the time? Even if these make your place dark, isn't that better than being some jerk's fantasy object? I'd also get reflective film for your windows.

I don't believe the consulate has any jurisdiction in local matters. Germany has laws about Peeping Toms which may apply to your situation. Similar question on student site in Germany. You also might try the local English language press or ex-pat websites.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:09 AM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hunh - the thread Ideefixe linked to suggests he's actually fine, legally, and that you'd get in trouble for filming or photographing him. Hopefully the organizations people have linked to will offer good advice...
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:19 AM on April 15, 2015

Can you get in touch with his landlord?
posted by salvia at 9:19 AM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

You are in a relationship with him, and you have to get out of it. You didn't mean to have this happen, you are innocent in the matter. The laws are what they are in Germany. You have to move yourself into your comfort zone.

Cover the window, firmly in such a way you get the light you want, but you see nothing you don't want to see. Figure that out. Let it go. It is just some reflected light. His dick is Shroedinger's cat, it is an ezperiment you don't watch. Do not film him, get that window and the window in your head closed. He is not the droid you are looking for.
posted by Oyéah at 9:29 AM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Ideefixe's idea about reflective film is really, really great. It doesn't solve the issue when you're on your balcony, but if it works it would take away your neighbor's ability to see into your room while still providing you with light.

Plus, one-way mirror! How cool is that?
posted by Poppa Bear at 9:30 AM on April 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

Re: The legality. Again, American, so Germany could be completely different. But in most of the states there exist legal distinctions between doing things "knowingly and intentionally" versus accidentally. Now, practically this is hard to prove, so laws get shortened into practical, physical concrete things like "walking nude in own house always okay." But that's probably not actually the whole case legally.
posted by quincunx at 9:32 AM on April 15, 2015

Any reason you couldn't hold up a camcorder and wave hello? No need to actually record anything.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:33 AM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: ok he's not fine, legally, whew
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:48 AM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

IANAL but have talked to a family member who happened to be the prosecuting attorney on a similar case in Germany 10 years ago...if things haven't changed since then, apparently it's really unlikely that anything will come of it if they prosecute. Judges are not likely to do anything in cases like yours and so it's regarded as just a waste of time for attorneys, and the police (which explains their reluctant reaction). Sorry about that. Reflective film sounds good. Also, contacting the perv's building manager / landlord might be helpful?
posted by The Toad at 10:17 AM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Reflective film sounds good.

ooh. OOOH. This has just given me a genius idea -

A mirror. Prop a really big mirror up in your window, facing him, but angled so that people in the street can see it.

This would do two things -

1. It would block your view of him, and
2. It would deflect his reflection down into the street so everyone else except you can see it.

I'm sure that there are "think of the children" busybody types everywhere in the world who'd definitely get involved somehow when this dude's wank sessions are pretty much broadcast to the entire street.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on April 15, 2015 [14 favorites]

I think Germany and Nudity is more like a "think of the grandmothers" culture, meaning, nobody will really care, mirror or otherwise. I fear that the reaction of the police is just typical for that (add some genuine Berlin callousness and you're done with that part...).
That said, there is a thing called "Erregung öffentlichen Anstosses" and I suppose when a person demonstratively moves close to his window to display his junk in action during precisely timed performances, you might have a case, although he is technically on his own premises. Perhaps a question for legal advice after all...
posted by Namlit at 10:56 AM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Is yours the only window that can see him? I would guess there are others in your building? Then you might get some results in going to the landlord...who could presumably talk to his landlord. Unless public wanking is epidemic in Berlin and nobody really does care?

In which case, I would talk to the feminist group, if only to see what if any other recourse they might know about.

In the meantime, yes, the film on your windows is good. And I'm sorry you have to deal with this. The additional injustice is of course losing access to your own balcony or putting up with this jerk if you do use it.
posted by emjaybee at 11:10 AM on April 15, 2015

A visible video camera that's live streaming him? He's going to escalate, that's what they do. That's why other countries come down hard on exhibitionists for what (seems like) relatively minor behaviour , research and history tells us that it's a gateway crime to sexual assault, I'm afraid.

I'm so sorry you're experiencing this.

Also, can you surprise a big German speaking man upon him to yell how disgusting he is?
posted by taff at 12:00 PM on April 15, 2015

Best answer: Do some research and call HIS landlord.
posted by zug at 12:47 PM on April 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Position exterior mounted mirrors to reflect the sun towards his windows. Bright LED lights aimed at his window will also do the trick to make his looking across the street uncomfortable. A high-powered battery operated spot light could also work. As a last resort, pepper his windows with a paintball gun from street level at night when there are no witnesses so that he can't see out.
posted by JJ86 at 12:48 PM on April 15, 2015

I am a German born in Berlin. If you ever need any help translating or navigating other than your roommate, please message me.

My first thought was public indecency (Erregung öffentlichen Ärgernisses), even though it is his own home. That said, I am not sure how far the police go there because people in Germany still go to the beach naked. Well, designated beaches, but still. Do you live in the former east?

I definitely suggest calling the police again or even going to the station with a photo or video of the creep wanking. Maybe you'll have more luck and get a more sympathetic (or female?) officer.

Can you post this on Facebook? Germans love to protest and petition, and if you're a student or young artist or whatever, could surely find people to support you. In fact, if you agree, I will post about this on my Facebook page and see if any of my friends in Berlin (I don't live there anymore) have any ideas to help you.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 1:30 PM on April 15, 2015 [10 favorites]

Do you have a video camera with a zoom? Take a video showing him wanking away in his window, then zoom out to show that window's position on the building. Then call the cops on his gross ass. Stress that you believe he is constantly doing this AT YOU, specifically, and you are concerned about it possibly escalating to violence. I think the video should serve as proof.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:31 PM on April 15, 2015

This happened to my mom when she was in high school. The boy next door was doing the same thing as this guy is doing to you. My mom's mom found out what was going on and marched over to the guy's house and talked to his mother. It never happened again.

You say this guy is living with an older guy. Is there any chance that the older guy is the creeper's father? If so, maybe someone could complain to the father on your behalf.

Also, since this is the day of internet shaming, could you find out his name and post it on the internet along with a picture of him in the act?

If the police don't care about this situation, I think the only way to get him to stop is to shame him in some way.
posted by parakeetdog at 7:34 PM on April 15, 2015

Even if the police haven't responded well so far, I'd say do everything you can to pursue this legally before you resort to trying to shame the guy. He could be dangerous for all you know, and even if he's not you don't want to do anything where he could get you in trouble with the law. You may not be able to prove he's wanking at you, but if you accused him specifically on Facebook, for example, he could claim you're libeling him. (Also, what if you were one window off, and posted the wrong person's info?)

FWIW, I'm guessing that exposing his sorry self at you is probably as far as he wants to take this. You're probably not in any danger. That being said, you should treat him like a potentially dangerous person and take this to the cops. Even if they are gross rape culture-y cops who chuckle at the silly woman who is so upset about a little harmless public exposure, if you say he's doing this a lot, at you specifically, they will hopefully get the idea that this isn't some random weirdo flashing his junk in the park. This is a creep targeting you, and the cops need to make sure this ends here.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:44 PM on April 15, 2015

Take photos of him doing this including contextual photos of the apartment window location on the facade of the building to help identify the apartment number and include this in a written letter of complaint addressed to their building/property manager. If you intend to stay in your apartment it may pay to fork out the cost for a local lawyer to send this on their letterhead.

I would fix a video camera to your window in a permanent position, even if it is broken & just for looks as a deterrent.
posted by Under the Sea at 10:10 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

You could even get one of the cheap dummy cameras with a blinking LED. Depending on local laws, a permanent real camera setup may be illegal. But a dummy won't be, and he won't see the difference.

I'm sorry that the police were being asshats. Maybe calling again might take this from 'I looked into someone's window and happened to catch a glimpse of a private moment' to 'I'm constanstly being harrassed by someone who is keeping track of where I am and using his sexuality as a weapon'.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:13 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

You don't have to/shouldn't post his personal information on Facebook. You can either just post that you're being troubled and ask for help - maybe in lots of people showing up in front of your house to let him see you are not alone and keep him from possibly trying worse?

Sometimes, in Germany, it takes a public outrage for the administration, police etc. to move. :(
posted by LoonyLovegood at 2:51 AM on April 16, 2015

Just a small point, I put some frosted film on my windows as I live on the ground floor, however I found they didn't actually obscure the interior of my room all that well -- just made it blurrier. And this was with supposedly pretty opaque-grade stuff. Maybe reflective film is more effective, but what I ended up doing myself was covering the part of the window people could actually see into with tiled printer paper; it still lets in plenty of light but it can't be seen through at all.
posted by Drexen at 4:21 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi everyone, thank you all for your thoughtful and concerned responses. Thank you especially to those of you who suggested window film, (brilliant! why didn't I think if this?!) I ordered some one way mirror film last night, so hopefully that will be installed by Friday - I like this solution as it solves the problem of him being able to see into my apartment.... because regardless of whether or not he stops, he's still going to live there and I don't want him to be able to see in.

Regarding all the video/photo suggestions, I did try videoing him, but my camera was not good enough and it is not clear who he is or even what he is doing unless you freeze frame and zoom in really close. I have also tried taking photos, but since I did this he has been more careful about not showing his face and he moves away from the window if I am holding anything that looks like a photo-taking device, so he's wise to that. I like the idea of mounting a dummy camera on the balcony and pointing it at his window, I may try that too if we don't get any further with the police.

I'm not really interested in trying to start legal proceedings against him at this point (aside from getting the police to go over there and telling him to stop). And while I understand the desire to name and shame him on the internets, this is an aspect of modern life that I find morally questionable and have no desire to be a proponent of this type of action against someone whom I know next to nothing about, so that's probably not a course of action I will pursue.

We have since gotten in touch with a social worker (friend) who works locally, he said he may be able to provide us with some resources for getting the police to take action, so that's a big step forward.

I may even try taking over a large intimidating German speaker to speak to his landlord/relative/flatmate/person because he never does it when the older guy is out on the balcony, which leads me to believe that he we doesn't want him to find out and would be responsive to him telling him to stop.

Thanks again to all of you who have given advice / researched the legality of taking photos / found useful links etc, you've all been a wonderful help :)
posted by rubyrudy at 4:56 AM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

It may be obvious, but just in case -- note that the one-way-ness of those films depends on the lighting on each side. I.e. when it's dark out and your lights are on, people can see in. As a rule, if you can see your reflection, they can see through.
posted by daisyace at 6:53 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I realize that this may be a difficult conversation to have with limited German so in order of preference I would either
  1. go with a friend or an advocate from a German women's group or, if that is not possible
  2. ask for an English-fluent police officer if one is available.
Take someone with you, in any case, and don't just have this conversation over the phone. Ideally, go to the station where you and your witness can look them in the eye while you talk.

And then I would have another talk with the police using the template below as a model:
  • Start the meeting by taking obvious notes and writing the officer's name at the top of your notes.
  • Hello, my name is $name.
  • This is my (second, third, whatever-th) attempt to report this problem and I think it is possible that my previous efforts to explain my concerns have been misunderstood.
  • It is possible that the officer to whom I previously spoke believed that I was complaining because I accidentally saw my neighbor masturbating. While that would be distasteful to me, I recognize and respect that different cultures have different ideas about modesty and privacy. However, I believe a more accurate description of the situation is that I am having a continuing problem with a neighbor who is making repeated and unwelcome sexual displays towards me. This person obviously knows where I live. My previous attempts to bring this matter to the police's attention have been ignored.
  • Because of this person's deliberate campaign of harassment I do not feel safe in my home. I realize that German values are different than $your_nation's ones but surely it is not acceptable for a man to target an unwilling woman and involve her in a campaign of deliberate sexual harassment and intimidation for his own gratification.
  • Please tell me what you intend to do to deal with this situation.
  • If they tell you that they intend to do nothing, ask to speak with a supervisor.
Don't take "No" for an answer if you can manage and continually return to the fact that this is not an accidental glimpse now and then but a calculated campaign by your neighbor. Your goal is to get them to understand your concern that this is not just an unfunny joke from your neighbor but possibly something which could escalate.
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:55 AM on April 16, 2015

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