Getting rid of toxic roommate when "GTFO" isn't as easy as it sounds?
August 17, 2016 10:25 PM   Subscribe

TL;DR: How do you get rid of a toxic roommate when they literally have nowhere to go, no one else willing to take them in, and no money to find a place of their own? IF it gets ugly, violent, I'll call my friend who lives in the complex and get help with immediate removal... but I don't want to make this guy homeless unless he becomes a real threat. I'm trying to think of clear ways to communicate boundaries and deadlines, such as giving X amount of time to save up deposits for a place of his own now that he has a job again. That's the kind of advice I need please.

So I moved to a different state the beginning of May, in part choosing the location because I had a longtime FWB in the area and we've been talking for years about exploring relationship potential. Less than 2 weeks later he informed me that he was still hung up on a woman he'd almost gotten involved with, and things ended in a way that left a question as to whether they were on a break and still had a chance or if it was over. He said he needed time to talk to her, get closure, and get over it before he could think about whether or not things might get romantic between us. He was okay with continuing the FWB option (of course he was), until or unless she decided to give him another chance. This came as a surprise, of course, becasuse despite our having talked constantly for years about how much we wanted to be together, and telling the other when we had someone nearby we wanted to explore with (since neither of us were interested in long distance), he'd never so much as mentioned her name before that day. I'd known about several girlfriends he had, but not her.

Over the months we discussed my moving to the area, he also started talking about how horribly he was treated by his housemates... A giant sob story that I bought into, somehow not noticing at the time that he was glossing over the fact that he was several months behind on rent, while going out for fast food, conventions, road trips, etc... Supposedly the roommates he had weren't capable of understanding that his minimum wage job barely covered his child support and left him next to nothing to live on. They were threatening to throw him out on the street even though he had a solid lead on a job worth twice as much as he was making, he just needed time to get through their interview and vetting process, then he'd be moving to the next city over (about an hour away) for work.

I invited him to come stay with me rent free, on condition that he cover the internet bill, help with groceries, and walk my dogs a couple of times a day while I was at work. It was supposed to be a month, maybe 6 weeks, until the next training class for this job he insisted he had locked in. I worked within walking distance to my apartment, so gave him free use of my car so he could keep the job he already had, and save up for the down payment on an apartment once he got this better job.

Fast forward a little, its obvious the job isn't happening, he gets depressed, randomly just stops going to work (yet still expects to have 24/7 access to my car for some reason), and spends the next 3 weeks monopolizing my couch and xbox to the point that I couldn't even watch an episode of something on Netflix. If I asked to watch something, he'd put on a youtube video instead of the movie or show I specifically said I wanted to see, or he'd say he couldn't save the game yet and keep playing until I gave up and put something on my laptop.

He reminded me constantly that we weren't in a relationship, while also being the only one to keep bringing up little suggestions of "if we were together we'd do XYZ" type things. I told him I was no longer looking at getting into a relationship with him, and started talking to other people. I even made a point of letting him know who I was talking to, because he was friends with the guy, and the guy himself even talked to him to make sure that us potentially getting involved wouldnt' be an issue for him. He said he was cool with it, encouraged it, and reminded me yet again that we were never in a relationship.

The FWB part of our arrangement slowly died out. Sex only happened on his terms, when he was in the mood and initiated it. If I tried to intiate anything, he would shove me away (often literally) and make snide remarks or accuse me of being too demanding. Due to the constant rejection and the fact that even when we did have sex, it was purely about his pleasure and I got little to nothing out of it, my libido left the building.

Coming home from work every day to find him still sitting on the couch playing games, my dogs still locked in their cage, the house a mess, and all the food I'd bought eaten... Yeah, of course we started to get into spats. He pitched in for groceries a couple of times so that I couldn't complain about him eating everything in the house, but when he ran out of money he expected me to feed him. Between this and in 2 months or so leading up to this point, I maxed out my credit card and blew through all of my savings. Made it clear that I could no longer afford to support myself, much less both of us, and that I would not be ale to come up with that month's rent on my own.

Fights intensified, any attempt I made to discuss finances, suggest he find a job, or try to figure out how to stop our constant fighting... only triggered more aggression on his part. He became volatile and erratic, one minute accusing me of trying to sneak into a relationship by doing favors and being nice to him... the next minute accusing me of constantly criticizing him by trying to force communication about how we needed to figure out how to get along if we were going to keep living together.

I stopped making any kind of affectionate gestures, stopped doing all the little random things I'd been doing to keep him happy and retreated into listening to headphones or being on my computer most of the time. He still sleeps in my bed every night, and gets mad if I sleep on the couch, despite the fact that he shoves me away if I even accidentally touch him while rolling over in my sleep. When I'm off the next day I stay up as late as possible so we're not in the same bed for more than a couple of hours, and "accidentally" doze off on the couch frequently.

The fighting has gotten to the point of his being verbally abusive. He criticizes me for every small mistake I make, if I forget the turn signal while driving I'm accused of being reckless and endangering both our lives... yet when he drives, he's constantly trying to play pokemon go or texting. If I get anxious while he's driving, he orders me to apologize for scaring him by jumping or gasping when he gets too close to another car or swerves into other lanes. (I have huge anxiety issues with careless driving after an ex attempted to suicide by car with me in the passenger seat, and have explained countless times tat the panic response is not something I can control as easily as he could just by driving more carefully and leaving his phone alone). He gives me lists of rules on how to attempt to communicate with him, how to behave around him, even in how to talk to others about him...

Any small argument quickly escalates into a multiple hours long screaming match, despite any attempt I make to avoid triggering his aggression he lashes out at me over the slightest thing. Examples, 3+ hours fight because I said no to him borrowing my car to go out to some place for pokemon stuff (we were supposed to go together but he decided he didn't want me tagging along and slowing him down, I didn't want him driving my car without me). 45 minute shouting match that started because I drank all of the soda that I bought for myself, leaving nothing for him to have on his day off and he was out of money so couldn't get himself more. 2 hours because I got a call for a job interview which interrupted his plans to use my car for the day. 3+ hours because I went to visit a friend who lives a couple of hours away, wasting gas and putting unnecessary wear and tear on the car, plus I didn't ask/tell him before I went so he was "stranded" at home with nothing to do. In that case he was also angry because he would hae wanted to tag along, and I had to bluntly state that he'd have been a third wheel on my booty call...

If I say no to something that he wants, he will badger and bully and berate me until I give in just to shut him up. Not for sex, of course, usually its the use of my car... he cannot understand why I was willing to let him use it however he wanted in the beginning but not now, despite the fact that I've explained repeatedly that lending my car to a potential boyfriend is completely different from me spending my day stranded at home while my roommate uses it to go out and have fun instead... Also, that whole thing where he will NOT leave his %"&$@ phone alone while driving, and I cannto afford to lose my vehicle or have him get a ticket for reckless driving. If he wants to go do something, he just grabs my keys and heads for the door without even asking, then flips out when I stop him. He's even done this when he knows I have to work. He feels entitled to my possessions, constantly using or taking things without a word.

Things got even worse a few weeks ago... when I spent 300 out of the rent budget to take care of some fines I didn't know I'd need to pay off before renewing my drivers license. He spent several hours screaming at me about how I put "our" apartment at risk, how I did this thing that affected him without discussion (I'd texted him wanting to talk about it but he refused to talk at the time), accusing me of being selfish and reckless with money... and since then has attempted to control how I spend anything. If I'm willing to go get both of us fast food, he approves, but if I only want to treat myself I get shouted down over how I'm wasting money that should be spent buying US groceries instead. This was the one financial decision I made without considering his needs, since he contributed nothing to rent I didn't feel it he had a right to decide what I should do anyway... I also had the money replaced before rent was due, so there was never any danger of eviction, yet he still beats me over the head with it at every possible opportunity. If I even hint at the fact that he still hasn't given me any money for rent, he flips out and starts yelling at me about how I "let" my small dogs bark, or other trivial issues that have nothing to do with the situation.

I could give dozens more examples, but I think those are pretty clear?

I've been putting up with the abusive attitudes toward me, hoping now that he's working again he'll start paying rent and helping out as promised. Still getting nothing but excuses and pity me stories. Until recently I had a job that didn't bring in enough to cover the bills (much less food or anything else) on my own, and desperately needed the help now that my savins is down to a jar of loose change... He tried to order me to go apply for foodstamps so that we wouldn't have to worry about budgeting for food..

I start a better job next week, where I'll be bringing in more than enough to support myself, and have repeatedly asked him to start looking for other living options. Sometimes he agrees, claims he's already looking, but most of the time its the sob story about having nowhere else to go. Which is actually true, most of his previous roommates from the area have contacted me privately to say I need to get him out as soon as I can, because his pattern with me is exactly how he's behaved with others, especially women. In the living situations that involved male roommates he wasn't verbally abusive toward them, but he did use and mooch off of them until they had enough and booted him. Unless he makes friends at his new job, he has no one in this city (or the other he wanted to move to) willing to offer so much as a spare couch.

At one point we had discussed the possibility of trading up to a 2 bedroom in the apartment complex, but I'm not interested in living with him any longer than it takes for him to save up deposits or find someone else willing to take him in. I'm tired of feeling like I'm in an abusive relationship (I know, I am, and without even being in an actual relationship...), I'm tired of the constant tension and being uncomfortable in my own home. I'm tired of being on edge and having to watch every word I say and everything I do in order to reduce the potential for fights.

Also, I've reached the final straw. A few days ago he threatened to kick both of my tiny dogs. When I say tiny, I mean... the fat one is 6lbs and a kick could easily kill or at least maim them. I'll put up with a lot of mistreatement toward myself, but not toward my pups. I gave him one warning, that if he ever even joked about something like that, he could go live in a homeless shelter because I will not have someone in my home who poses a danger to them. Since then I've repeated my request that he look for another living situation as soon as possible because I cannot deal with the hostility in my own home.

I don't have the money for a lawyer, and am not *quite* willing to call the police in yet. The friends I have in the area are all his friends, so I'm not certain that asking them to help me remove him wouldn't increase the drama... (Did I mention he's forbidden me from discussing our issues with anyone else, even my cousin who does't know anyone who knows him?)

I've considered talking to the landlord about posting an eviction notice for having someone living here off the lease, to claim it was a complaint from neighbors because of all our fighting, but I'm afraid that could backfire if the management here actually has an issue with people living in and not being on the lease... I have a friend in the apartment complex who says the dogs I can take refuse in her spare room if I start to feel that he might become physically violent...

I just... I don't want my attempts to get him to move out to escalate things to violence. A few months ago I'd have told you that he was the most amazing, kind, honorable guy I'd known, but since the arguments started to escalate I don't think I even know this guy... over a decade of friendship and several years of "benefits" and I have no idea who I'm living with, or what he's capable of.

How do I walk the fine balance between "I'd like to be friends again someday, or friendly acquaintances since we have all the same friends and will continue to see each other in social situations no matter how this falls out" and "Get out before you hurt me or my animals"

Everyone I've tried getting helpful suggestions from just repeats "get him out" and obviously I know that needs to happen, but no one is helping me figure out HOW to do that, with the least amount of potential for damage. Its my apartment, I neither want nor can afford to just pack up and leave. He has to be the one to go, but if I throw him out on the street he'll go to all our mutual friends and paint it so that I'm somehow the psycho in this scenario. I just moved here, I do't want to lose all of my friends just because they know him better and those who don't have personal experience with how he treats people he lives with.

The one thing I can think of right now... When he's around other men, the ball of rage instantly evaporates and he becomes the friendly, likeable guy I've known up until recently. I've considered talking to one of his close friends to see if they can sit down with him, but I'm afraid that will escalate things again... especially considering he's very adamant that I tell no one of our problems. If they don't 'handle' him properly when trying to talk to him about needing to move on to another place, he'll turn it around on me yet again. Everything is always my fault, no matter what, even if its a very clear and direct consequence of his own choices.

I cannot imagine how this guy has ever had a relationship in his life, if this is how he treats everyone he gets involved with.

Sorry I rambled, I started trying to list as much as I could remember about his behavior, and lost sight of the actual question. yes, I know he's potentially dangerous but I'm looking for a... gentler solution to getting him out? One that doesn't give him an excuse to lash out at me? One that doesn't risk pushing him over the edge and taking it out on me or my pets? I realize that I share fault in how out of control the situation has gotten, but I feel like I'm going to end up having to gnaw a limb off to escape the trap I've stepped into.
posted by myShanon to Human Relations (69 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, my God. This is not a toxic roommate, this is a scary abusive ex.

There is no reasoning with this kind of person, there is no "letting them down gently," there is no amicable overlapping future here. You cannot impose boundaries on him, the problem is not that you are not communicating them clearly enough--he thinks he owns you. He does not need you to do anything "wrong" for him to lash out at you, he will do it (is doing it!) anyway. He is literally driving you to foodstamps while trying to control your whole life, you do not need to worry about his well-being. I can assure you he does not give a single solitary shit about yours.

Call your local domestic violence support group to find out what specific steps you have to take to get him out. (There is some possibility that he may now be considered a month-to-month subtenant on your apartment, depending on the state, which may delay your ability to get the cops to get him out.) In the meantime, your dogs should stay with your friend and you should go about anywhere that will take you. Without advance notice to him. You should not wait. He is escalating to see how far he can go. He will be hitting you next. If you remain in reach, he will hit you. There is no right strategy to prevent it, except not to be there. HE IS A REAL THREAT, RIGHT NOW.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. It is not your fault. Please, please take care of yourself and your dogs.
posted by praemunire at 10:44 PM on August 17, 2016 [106 favorites]

I can't believe you've put up with any of this. I would team up with a friend or two, and tell him to be out within an hour. Or stay at their place overnight and tell him to be gone by morning. Or just pack and leave and change your number. Whatever happens, block completely. Best of luck.
posted by tillsbury at 10:48 PM on August 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

You really must try to stop worrying so much about this horrible, abusive, manipulative, freeloading arsehole, and just get him out of your house. I don't truly know how you do that where you are, but I daresay some kind of women's crisis hotline will know exactly who you need to call or contact to set wheels in motion.

If all his friends think he is so great, they will help him out. He is not your responsibility. He has behaved atrociously, from the very beginning with the nonsense about some other woman right up to his horrible ongoing abusive behaviour. Get him out, or get you out: this situation is NOT going to improve at all, ever.
posted by glitter at 10:48 PM on August 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

There is no technique, you kick him out, like, yesterday. The fact he has no one to take him in is not your concern, it's what you get when you're an abusive asshole. Call the police to help you then get a restraining order. I mean, how much worse are you wanting things to be before you act?
posted by Jubey at 11:18 PM on August 17, 2016 [12 favorites]

Glib answer: Kick him out onto the fucking street.

That said, kicking him to the curb is not always easy, legal, or safe. Take the advice of others in this thread who will have more useful practical advice for you, but I seriously doubt you will be able to get him out of your house by giving him a constructive deadline. He will take and take and take until you decide you don't give a shit about him anymore. Because he doesn't care about you. I've seen it happen a thousand times. :(
posted by stoneandstar at 11:19 PM on August 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

There's no magical solution here where you can get rid of him and he wont be a shithead about it. He's an abusive misogynist mooch. He'll mooch off you until you're done and then he'll move on to his next. You can't be friends with him. You may potentially lose some mutuals- that's too bad, maybe he can live with them.

Take advice from a domestic violence helpline, but get him out ASAP. (Make sure you arent giving him any prior warning- that's a frequent escalation point).
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:29 PM on August 17, 2016 [20 favorites]

Look, you say you realise how out of control the situation has gotten, but the fact is that you don't seem to. The reason your friends are saying "just get out" is because this is what needs to happen. I was you. I was in this situation when I was 20. It escalated quickly. If you have two small animals in your care, I would not chance this. Just because it hasn't escalated with his friends before, doesn't mean it won't start with you.

The domestic violence hotline is a really really good idea. *BUT* do not delay. Once you have made the decision to really get rid of him, he will feel it and things could escalate more rapidly.

Please be safe.
posted by frumiousb at 11:36 PM on August 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

Ugh. What a gaslighting, manipulative, abusive asshole. Yes, they are scary to excise.

Here is a possible plan of action:

First, start documenting everything he does, save texts and emails, record fights if you can. (Don't tell him about this, obviously). Give him a move out date next week. When you do this, tell him whatever won't cause him to twist it into a sob story for himself or get defensive. I don't condone lying, but I think in this situation it's justified. Say a close friend or relative is moving to your city and is in need of housing and you need him to leave.

If they day comes and he won't leave, or makes any kind of excuse or attempt to placate you, stay firm, and if he still won't leave, call the cops. I hope it doesn't come to this. Tell them it was supposed to be a temporary situation and he has gotten violent, and is threatening to harm you and your dogs. They will come, he will go. Once that's done, and you've filed the restraining order, move into damage control mode. Tell your mutual friends what happened. Maybe show them what you wrote. Anyone who doesn't take your side is (you guessed it) NOT YOUR FRIEND.

If he keeps bothering you, document everything.

I'm so very sorry you've ended up in this situation. I've been in a massively abusive relationship, so I get why you feel you need to still be gentle with this guy, and why you feel the way you do about the rest of it. But really, and please trust me on this, *it's not going to get you anywhere*.

I know this is so, so scary, and you feel like if you stand up for yourself he's going to do something horrible, but what's happening to you NOW is horrible, and it's not going to get better.
posted by ananci at 11:41 PM on August 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

Sometimes he agrees, claims he's already looking, but most of the time its the sob story about having nowhere else to go.

Soooooo not your problem. This guy is a leech and an asshole who is taking advantage of you. Kick him to the curb. In the absence of better advice from a DV hotline, I would personally suggest having some large, burly friends around when you do. And then change your passwords and locks, block him from your phone and email.

but I don't want to make this guy homeless unless he becomes a real threat.

You are already afraid of him - you say that you have started making plans in case he gets violent. That means he is a real threat, and you know it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:44 PM on August 17, 2016 [24 favorites]

If you have two small animals in your care, I would not chance this.

Yes, if you can't call for help for yourself, do it for them. You could come home from work tomorrow and find that they "got away from him while he was walking them," never to be seen again. Or worse.
posted by praemunire at 11:49 PM on August 17, 2016 [13 favorites]

If you absolutely, positively, want to assuage your guilt over kicking him out I suppose you could give him enough money for a taxi and a night in a hotel as is frogmarched out of your home.

I honestly wouldn't bother though, because I think "I'd like to be friends again someday" is off the table here. Oh, and tell EVERYONE what he's done. Why the fuck should you cover for his abuse of you?

(Other people have better advice, especially praemunire. I'm just extremely pissed off on your behalf. Get rid of him and shout it from the rooftops. Really celebrate the burning of that bridge. He deserves to be ashamed).
posted by Leon at 12:08 AM on August 18, 2016 [8 favorites]

I would try to get him out ASAP, but I'd also talk to a lawyer, preferably one that specializes in DV cases. With the amount of time that he's lived there, he may legally be considered a 'tenant'. I'd hate for you to kick him out for your own safety, and then have him turn around and sue you for illegal eviction.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:09 AM on August 18, 2016 [15 favorites]

I think you should treat this as a chance to start totally fresh. You've got a job, you can meet other people in lots of ways. His friends, well, they're his friends. He's very protective about his reputation (barring not mooching). I agree there's potential for drama there, but disagree that it's worth trying to hang on to those connections, I think you should write them off. In three months' time you could get to know totally different people just as well. If some of these people are ok, there will be the opportunity to meet (they'll get in touch). If you run into them, say hello. If you run into him, blank him.

You could write him a very legal-sounding letter informing him he needs to be out. (I bet you could bluff this, I doubt he'd be able to respond with anything real in return, legally. Probably good to research what you can say, just in case.) Set it aside. When he's not home, quickly, pack your computer, documents, sentimental things & other valuables, and rent a hotel room fpr two days, and a kennel space for the dogs. Leave the letter and let him read it and react to it however he's going to on his own.

In the letter, tell him that you're DONE, that he has two days to pack his things and get out, and that if he's still there by X time, you'll be calling the police. (I think you could probably get a police escort to come with you anyway?) If you give your location info someone will probably know for sure.

This guy is a mess, so sorry.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:15 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I strongly disagree about giving him time to pack by himself. I predict he'll steal what he can, and destroy everything else. You need to be present, along with at least two physically strong friends, while he packs.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:26 AM on August 18, 2016 [58 favorites]

How do I walk the fine balance between "I'd like to be friends again someday, or friendly acquaintances since we have all the same friends and will continue to see each other in social situations no matter how this falls out" and "Get out before you hurt me or my animals"

Everyone I've tried getting helpful suggestions from just repeats "get him out"
Girrrrrrl, this dude's "friends" already know he's a piece of shit. That's why everyone is telling you to get him the fuck out. Stop worrying about him ASAP and take care of yourself and your dogs. I strongly feel that if he continues to live with you he WILL get physical with you.

Today, this morning, as soon as you can leave the house, call a domestic violence support hotline. They can tell you what your rights are in the state you live in terms of kicking out a short-term renter. They might even help you get pro-bono legal assistance. They will also give you emotional support and make sure you are safe.


This is going to be hard, but you can do it. We're all rooting for you.

Please read this Reddit thread about an abuse victim who escaped a situation very similar to yours. If she can do it, you can do it.
posted by Brittanie at 1:08 AM on August 18, 2016 [60 favorites]

Where he goes, who (if anyone) he moves in with, how he pays for a place of his own --- NONE of that is your problem! He is a grown-ass adult who is capable of taking care of himself, but who would rather have YOU pay his bills because he's a lazy abusive jerk.

Not only kick him out as fast as you can, take back any access to your car immediately --- get your keys back, of course, but be aware he's probably made copies: start using something like The Club or some similar steering wheel immobilizer, some additional way to secure your car he does not already have access to.
posted by easily confused at 1:19 AM on August 18, 2016 [10 favorites]

Look up domestic violence organizations in your area; they should have free legal help and you may be able to get a protection from abuse order than includes eviction. At the very least, a counselor at an organization like that can help you talk through all your options. If you can't find local organizations you can call the national domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE

I'm sorry you are going through this.
posted by bearette at 2:26 AM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Yes to domestic violence helplines, but also, I hope you'll take seriously everyone's warnings that you are in danger here. In your question, you mention wanting to keep mutual friends, and remain friendly with your ex. Please focus on your own safety and not on your ideal future state where he moves out and everything goes back to the way it was. Be open to bigger changes like moving, even moving to a different town, getting a new job, getting a new circle of friends, etc. -- I'm not saying you should do these things, but when you're deciding what to do, don't rule anything out as long as it keeps you safe.
posted by chickenmagazine at 3:45 AM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

You are not in any way responsible if he "becomes" homeless. He is making choices here.

Also understand that there is no way that he will ever be friends with you again, not because there's no way for you to remove him from your home gently, but because the way he is able to go on existing without making real effort is by manipulating people - and he will need to present you as evil and unfair to his friends or potential next girlfriend if he wants to move in with them. And whatever he says about you will probably eventually get back to you - and YOU will not want to be friends with HIM. Even if you were Mother Teresa and gently guided him to a safe home of his own while pouring on the "It's not you, it's me" tonic, he would still badmouth you to others if the choice is between that and actually getting a job. You know this is true, because you heard him do it about other people - it's just that you always believed him.

Give him an ultimatum. Or start looking for a new place just for yourself.
posted by Mchelly at 3:58 AM on August 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

I agree this sounds awful. He has convinced you that you're responsible for his well-being, for his problems, for the relationship problems, and for causing drama. The truth is that HE is responsible for all of those things.

He is a grown adult and will either handle his own life, or he won't and he'll experience the consequences. He has a pattern of NOT handling his life well; his friends validated this. But he will survive. How he survives isn't your problem anymore.

You are not responsible for his lack of food, his lack of job, his lack of motivation, or anything else. I believe you already gave him a "chance" when you let him stay with you in the first place. The expiration date on his chance to get his act together is long past.

You aren't the cause of the relationship problems, and you won't be at fault if you bring up something that is reasonable and he makes it out to be a big issue. He is being unreasonable. That's not your fault. And the fact this all strikes you so wrong shows that you have a good sense for BS.

You aren't responsible for drama. In the same way a victim of a crime isn't causing drama by telling people about that crime, you are not causing drama by telling people what he has done. It's not like you're making things up. He has done these things to you, and you have the right to talk about them.

I agree he sounds very dangerous and I would be inclined to follow your gut on wanting to do this in a way that is less likely to escalate--not because escalation is bad in and of itself, but because he might hurt you or your dogs, and keeping yourself safe is a priority; you deserve physical, financial, and emotional safety. Earlier in the question I was going to recommend, starting now, no sleeping together / no food provision / no car / no money provision, even if you keep living together. He is not going to starve. Seriously! But now I agree with the other responders that you should contact a DV resource. It doesn't mean you've failed. Getting help shows you are resourceful and that you know when to call in support to deal with a problem *that you did not cause.* If you need to call more than one, do that. Perhaps go to a library and use the computer there so it doesn't show up on your laptop. Keep yourself safe from this person who is harming you.

I would be open to the idea of moving out and moving away. It's great you have your new job since you can use that to support yourself.

My guess is you will find some of his friends stick with you. If they don't, then they are not your friends and I believe you will likely find new and better ones. While you are figuring this out, can you pursue friendships with people who are fully supportive of you, your experiences, and the gifts you bring to the world? Those people are out there.
posted by ramenopres at 4:01 AM on August 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

Also, thinking about his friends--especially the ones who apparently know about this pattern and have seen him do it before, particularly with women--WHY are they still his friends? Looking just at these facts, it speaks poorly of their judgment. Another reason to strongly consider that, in the future, they will not be part of your life. (Because you will decide not to have them in your life.)
posted by ramenopres at 4:14 AM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

F it gets ugly, violent, I'll call my friend who lives in the complex and get help with immediate removal...

As ever, *please* be cautious in taking legal advice from well meaning internet strangers. I know the temptation to take the advice of people that tell you to just box up his stuff and tell him to get out is strong, but it's almost certainly not legal to do so, and if he wants to kick up a fuss he could go to the police and get back in (and very likely get you evicted in the process).

You need to be working with local domestic abuse organizations that can provide you with legal advice on how to get him out - anything else puts you at risk.
posted by Candleman at 4:15 AM on August 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

Actually, if you fear physical harm for yourself and your pets, as well as the fact that he has never contributed towards rent, you are well within your rights to just kick him out ASAP.
posted by kinoeye at 4:39 AM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

You need to get out, at least temporarily, with your pets, before you figure out how to remove him. It's illegal to just kick him without 30 days notice, even if he isn't on the lease and doesn't pay rent, if he's been there for longer than 30 days in most states. A skilled abuser will take advantage of this. Once you're physically out of the situation, you can figure out how to get him out of your apartment. Look up the eviction laws for your state online and follow everything by the book. Do everything in writing. Do not go to your apartment, do not take his calls. If he destroys everything you own (an unfortunate risk), you can sue him later. Things are not as important as safety. GET OUT. I'm so sorry you're dealing with this.
posted by possibilityleft at 4:45 AM on August 18, 2016 [13 favorites]

> the fact that he has never contributed towards rent

There's consideration on both sides, and a contract. I don't expect a dead-beat to take this to law, and personally I'd take that risk, but... yeah. Once again, everything praemunire said.
posted by Leon at 4:47 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Responding to kinoeye: as an earlier commenter mentioned, there can be higher risk of violence at the time when a victim is leaving or trying to leave. You can find more information on this by googling something like "domestic violence risks of leaving." I think this is probably why most of the commenters are advising to get in touch with a DV program.

OP, do you live in Utah? You can call this local hotline: 1-800-897-LINK (5465). Here's a link to a site. They will help you make a plan to keep yourself safe while taking the risks into account.

But, you are the one who knows the situation best.

The Reddit thread included a link to an article about building a Fuck-Off Fund, a store of money that no one else accesses and that you can draw on to get yourself out of a bad situation if needed. If you don't have one maybe that's something you can start now.
posted by ramenopres at 4:51 AM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

You moved to a different state for this guy. Can you move back to your original state? Do you want to stay given that there's no relationship future with him?
posted by bunderful at 4:51 AM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

How do you get rid of a toxic roommate when they literally have nowhere to go, no one else willing to take them in, and no money to find a place of their own?

The same ways you'd get rid of any other unwanted roommate. You can ask nicely or forcefully, neither of which is likely to work. So, alternatives... You can wait until the lease is up, and move out without renewing it. You can move out early, and deal with the fallout of a broken lease as best you can. Or you can research the eviction process and start filling out whatever forms are necessary. None of the viable options will be as painless as you'd wish, but they will work if you employ them. You do it by doing it despite the fact that aspects of it will suck.

But I don't think that's really what you're asking. I think the real hurdle is that you feel like he's your responsibility, and you don't know how you would live with yourself if you took the above steps. I know first hand what that feels like, and it sucks. Just as you have done, I bought into the narrative that the person I was caring for was helpless, and that I was responsible for them. In periods of crisis, friends told me over and over that I should just get out of the situation, that my problem person wasn't my responsibility, that the destructive relationship needed to end, just as they are saying to you here. And even though I could find no logical reason to disagree with their loving advice, I couldn't see a way to help myself and feel good about having done so.

So, here's my suggestion: Go ahead and feel bad. Help yourself despite the knowledge that it will feel bad for a while. This guy has woven a hammock for himself from the tatters of nice things that used to be yours. He's a jerk, but nice people like yourself don't enjoy dumping anyone -- even jerks -- on the floor. Having to do it sucks, but you have to do it. It's okay to acknowledge that it really, really hurts.
posted by jon1270 at 5:05 AM on August 18, 2016 [14 favorites]

Actually, if you fear physical harm for yourself and your pets, as well as the fact that he has never contributed towards rent, you are well within your rights to just kick him out ASAP.

In a justice sense, yes, but simply asserting something doesn't make it legally true. Different states have laws that can establish residency based on things such as receiving mail or being there for more than 30 days that can hold, regardless of whether or not any rent has been paid. Fear of future actions, no matter how justified, does not negate laws. This is why it's important to get qualified information on what needs to be done legally. If OP can't afford to have an eviction on her record, that gives the FWB leverage over her, and doing the wrong thing can just increase that.
posted by Candleman at 5:10 AM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Something I would do right now: Pack up a suitcase of your important documents, best clothes, precious mementos and anything else irreplaceable and store it with the friend in your complex. Don't tell him you're doing this. This guy sounds like someone who will destroy your stuff and I am very anxious about the idea of him being alone in your place once he knows that you are kicking him out. Honestly if you can think of a way to get the dogs to a friend without tipping him off, I'd do that too.

Don't worry about this dude. If he were a delightful guy and a little bit of a mooch, I might feel differently, but you need to bounce this dude for your own safety and sanity.
posted by Frowner at 5:28 AM on August 18, 2016 [20 favorites]

I'm so sorry. This isn't a 'toxic roommate', this is a dangerous abuser. I know you probably can't see it, but calling a hotline and talking to them might help you get clarity.

If you can move your dogs to your friend's place today, do so. Or put them in a kennel. That way he has one less thing to threaten you with, and you don't have to use your energy worrying about them.

Can you have some friends/relatives come stay with you for a few weeks as you get him out?

He needs to leave ASAP, but, yes, this is a dangerous time as he will, in his distorted mind, make it all your fault, and that you are the threat to his home/security. Please do call a hotline today.
posted by Vaike at 5:41 AM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, him 'saying' it is not a relationship, doesn't make that true. You share a bed, sex, food, going places, etc.
posted by Vaike at 5:44 AM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Although it is nice to know legal rights and operate within them, there is also the street smart way of solving the problem. Can he prove he is legally a resident and not some guy that occasionally slept over? Would he be the type to lawyer up or will he just move on to the next low-hanging victim? Then proceed with just getting him out. If he called the police - what proof could he show that he is actually "living" there - negate all of it.

Practical steps:

1. Put your pets into boarding or re-home them until this is over (tell him they are at the vets for tests)

2. Rent the smallest storage unit you can find that will hold all of his stuff asap and rent it for one month (in his name, preferably)

3. Choose a day you are off work and verbally agree to let him take the car (nothing in writing!)

4. Arrange to have a locksmith on standby to change the locking mechanism (not the knob itself) on all doors as soon as he leaves (and give a copy of the key to your landlord)

5. Pack his shit in garbage bags and call a cab to the storage unit where you drop it off

6. Return home and clean and make it seem like he was never there (no two place settings on the table, no extra toothbrush, one pillow on the bed)

7. Tape the key to the storage unit and the business card with the unit number written on it to the front door (better yet, just leave it on the ground in front of the door if you will be able to keep an eye on it while you wait for him to return). DO NOT WRITE ANYTHING HE CAN SHOW TO SOMEONE PROVING YOU MOVED HIM OUT. All he can show the cops is the key - which they have no idea if he got it himself. IF your name had to be on the storage unit paperwork and it get to the point the cops question that be honest and tell them you rented the unit because he had no id, but you had rented it for him a while ago (remember step two to rent it ASAP!) and he moved his stuff there from another unit... his stuff had never been in your apartment

8. Wait outside for him to come home with your car. As soon as he is home and out of the car (get the keys off him if you can, but like others said assume he has already duplicated them), hop in the car and drive off

9. Respond to all txts with your new narrative. Him:"My key doesn't work" You: "You don't have a key to my home" Him:"I can't get in our house". You:"I am not at home. I don't know what you mean by our house. I am the only one who lives there. I'll call you the next time I want to see you." Him: "My stuff is in our house" You: "None of your stuff is in my house. I don't want you in my home when I am not at home." Him:"What is the storage unit business card and key?" You: "I don't know what you are talking about but I am busy. Can you please stop hanging around my front door - it will make my neighbours nervous"

10. If he calls the cops, return with a friend for moral support (someone who knows the whole story and is on your side and will keep up the story). He is just some guy that slept over occasionally, became scary abusive so you broke up with him, and you don't know why he is acting like he lives in your apartment. Bring your lease and have the landlord on standby (let him know some crazy guy is claiming he lives with you).

Good luck with whatever path you choose.
posted by saucysault at 5:51 AM on August 18, 2016 [19 favorites]

How do I walk the fine balance between "I'd like to be friends again someday, or friendly acquaintances since we have all the same friends and will continue to see each other in social situations no matter how this falls out" and "Get out before you hurt me or my animals"

You really, really don't seem to fully understand what's going on here or this guy would've been gone long ago. I'm not saying that to blame you--he's a manipulative abuser and you seem to be a pleaser and a mediator type. But, the fact that it's gone on this long, and that he's been this abusive, and you're still worrying about how to stay friends with him is concerning. You need to take the warnings of people here seriously. Call a DV place for advice, get your dogs out of there ASAP, and make a plan to get yourself (or him) out ASAP.

Also, I am a lawyer, but not your lawyer, and I have no idea what jurisdiction you're in. But, if he's a savvy abuser with a history of taking advantage of people, he may know more about his rights than you do. Packing up his stuff, changing the locks, etc. might be against the law in your jurisdiction. The fact that he's an asshole, without a restraining order, may not be enough to legally justify a self-help eviction. (Morally is another story, and maybe his other victims can tell you how they handled it and how he reacted. If others have locked him out successfully and he went off with his tail between his legs, then great.) Talk to a DV place before you take any advice in this thread.
posted by Mavri at 6:06 AM on August 18, 2016 [23 favorites]

While I know everyone is trying to be helpful in offering up "Do this!" advice, please please please trust your own instincts about what is safe for you to do. Remember, you know this man and we don't.

As others have said, the advocates and counselors at your local domestic violence agency are a great resource for talking you through possible scenarios, your legal options, and safety planning. The National Domestic Violence Hotline's website and blog may give you more ideas or things to consider, too.
posted by lazuli at 6:07 AM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

This is a toxic person with no rights to your space. Their problems are theirs, not yours. If they have a friend's couch to crash on, they can go there. If you feel really generous, you could give them a week's hotel rent somewhere else.

Also if you contact your local police department (via the non-emergency line), and explain the situation, they can sometimes as a welfare check (or perhaps different term) have an officer present for them moving out. Contact the landlord too, and pay to change the locks if needed. If you need to file a restraining order, that can also emphasize your point.
posted by nickggully at 6:12 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

The National Domestic Violence Hotline's Path to Safety safety-planning pages might be particularly helpful.
posted by lazuli at 6:17 AM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Calling the cops will be hard but you need to document that this guy is scaring/threatening you, so if you need to call again they have some background, tell them about what he's said about your dogs, about his history with women. If you seriously fear he will hurt you, your dogs, or your stuff that is a situation for the police to be involved with. It's sad but he is not your friend anymore.

I was in a similar situation (ex not paying rent, I was trying to help him by letting him live with me, and he was being shitty/had issues that I couldn't help with), and I had to call the cops to get him out. Hardest thing I've ever done but my safety and sanity was worth it. Once he saw I was willing to call the cops he left. FWIW I was informally told by people at the police station I was talking to about an order of protection (I'm in Canada) to just change the locks. My landlord was amenable to just me living there but didn't know what to do.

You need to set the groundwork for a restraining order or order of protection, seriously, talk to a crisis hotline/domestic violence person or call the local police department. Tell the people telling you to kick him out that you'd like to kick him out, and would they be willing to look after your dogs while you do so. Would a few of those men be willing to come over to "help" this guy pack his things up and leave? That's what you need. If they won't, you need to go to the more sneaky plans listed above, the one involving the storage unit is genius, but also call the cops and let them know you've been having trouble with this guy and are worried he'll retaliate when you bar him from your home.

If it means breaking the lease/hurting your reputation, do so. Your fear of what people will think (and it sounds like they won't hold this against you, really) is keeping you in a toxic situation. You can do this, stop engaging in discussions with this guy and letting him influence your emotions.
posted by lafemma at 6:53 AM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Before calling the cops, call the DV to find out what the local force's typical response is actually like. I have been present when a very angry man told the police office that he would kill his wife and children (his exact words that he had also said previously to the wife while throwing a bureau at her - which was in pieces on the floor and he admitted to the police he had thrown it at her) and the two police officer's response was to tell the wife that "she shouldn't worry", "stop being so emotional" and "he was just blowing off steam." And of course the police then left. Don't assume the police will be on your side.
posted by saucysault at 7:04 AM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

saucysault's "Street Smart" advice would be a great way in some jurisdictions to lose your apartment to this guy and end up owing him money. Please do not take legal advice from strangers on the internet. Please call your local DV hotline, and/or an attorney (and often the DV hotline can put you in touch with a pro bono attorney who can give you some advice to start you off) and find out, based on the laws and customs in your jurisdiction, the best way to get this person out of your life as quickly as possible and with the least possible risk to you, your pets, and your property (in that order of importance, of course).
posted by decathecting at 7:51 AM on August 18, 2016 [17 favorites]

There may be legal provisions for breaking the lease due to domestic violence. If you can get another apartment, you moving (WITHOUT letting him know beforehand) may be the easiest option.
posted by Sophont at 8:05 AM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm echoing the general ideas of saucysault. But I personally wouldn't go to all that trouble for this guy. You want to know how to get him out? Just do it. On a Wednesday, have your big beefy friend come over. Tell your roommate that you are leaving until Monday and he must be out by 2:00 pm on that day. Tell him any personal belongings left in your apartment at that time will be put on the curb. This is not a conversation, so don't listen to anything he says, just say it and leave. This arrangement will appease your conscience, and is more than fair for him, as he will have more than FOUR days to make other arrangements. Go complete "no contact" for those days.

Come back Monday at 4:00 with your beefy friend and a ton of trash bags. Make an appointment with the locksmith for 4:00 to be there to change the locks. Hide your car so he can't find it. Methodically start packing up his shit, and CALL THE POLICE if he objects in any way. Don't engage, don't talk to him, just pick up your phone and call them. When they get there, you and your friend just tell the police a few short sentences with specific details. "He threatened violence against my pets." "I am afraid to stay here in my apartment with him."

This is not a negotiation. This is you planting your feet, taking a deep breath, and telling him how it's gonna be. And then making sure it IS that way, because it's your life and you deserve to be in control of it.
posted by raisingsand at 8:17 AM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

most of his previous roommates from the area have contacted me privately to say I need to get him out as soon as I can, because his pattern with me is exactly how he's behaved with others, especially women.

Can you reach out to one (or more) of these previous roommates and ask for help with *actually* getting him out? They were all successful at it before, AND they reached out (I'm assuming of their own volition) to try to warn you. I think it is fair to assume that at least some of them will be willing actually help with the practicalities of it (especially if you have a specific ask).

I am an internet stranger, but if I were local to you, I would be offering to: call the DV hotline on your behalf, research local landlord tenant laws, find out your landlord's policies on lock changes, coordinate with locksmiths as necessary, take in your dogs for a few days etc, etc. These are all things you can do, but are also things that it's harder to do when you are in the middle of this kind of a stressful mess.

He has to be the one to go, but if I throw him out on the street he'll go to all our mutual friends and paint it so that I'm somehow the psycho in this scenario. I just moved here, I do't want to lose all of my friends just because they know him better and those who don't have personal experience with how he treats people he lives with.

Practicalities aside: I just want to point out that any "friend" you "lose" because of this wasn't a real friend to you. You're better off finding that out now before you invest any more time pursuing those "friendships."

You might also want to consider the extent to which people will actually believe that you are a "psycho" based on this guy's words, given that you have had contact with multiple people who know his ways.

Good luck, OP. Please check in if/when you're able.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:28 AM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

This behavior is very like that of my ex husband before he put a gun to my head.

You say you know you need to have him get out, but I don't think you understand that you need to /leave/. Even if you like the apartment, even if it's the best apartment ever. He has escalated to physically threatening your animals. It is not that much longer before he escalates to physically threatening you.

When is your lease up? Is it soon? What is the penalty for breaking the lease? Is it achievable? Can you crowdfund it if nothing else?

Do you live near a city with a large Mefite population? I feel like this is one of those scenarios where if you need help moving, the community would be happy to come together. If you live near me, I will drive to where you are and help you get your stuff out. This situation is untenable.
posted by corb at 8:30 AM on August 18, 2016 [15 favorites]

Also, seconding reaching out to his previous roommates and asking how the hell they got him out and what safety steps they engaged in.
posted by corb at 8:31 AM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

"Street smart" folks: unfortunately, there are a fair number of abusers who are real rules lawyers. They are adept at exploiting any situation that might give them some power, especially if the system has some built-in slack based on a presumption of good faith by its participants. If this guy were an actual "toxic roommate"--say, someone she found making meth in the bathtub--the "street smart" solution would probably be the way to go, simply because that kind of person's top priority would not be asserting control over her. Based on what OP has written, this guy's top priority will be. If he happens to be smart as well, he could easily decide to exploit any legal missteps on her part, and then the situation could end up significantly worse. That's why it's really important that OP get some advice from people who know the law (and are familiar with police practice) in her state. If she is, in fact, in UT, it looks like she will probably meet the requirements to get an order of protection, which would allow her to exclude him from the home regardless of tenancy, but she really needs locally informed advice (not to mention moral support in this horrible time, and connections to other resources that may be available to help make it easier for her).

OP, I really hope you will be able to post soon letting us know how things are going. You may be feeling a little overwhelmed by everyone putting the situation so starkly, but people are really concerned about you and your dogs. Once again, that an asshole skilled at manipulation has taken advantage of your kind and generous nature is not your fault. Don't let a sense of shame prevent you from being safe.
posted by praemunire at 8:47 AM on August 18, 2016 [22 favorites]

Bring a man with you, pack up any valuables and electronics. Go stay somewhere else for a few days.

Cancel the Internet and any other service you pay for to coincide with your "vacation."

Inform this person with your male friend present that he must move out immediately, when you come back in the morning (with your male friend) tell him he needs to be packed up and moved out.

Come back to check with male friend. Make him pack and leave while the two of you supervise.

Change locks. Done.

Alternative: have your male friend sleep over and you guys sleep in the bedroom and give this freeloader one day to pack up and leave.

There are more legal routes, but I think bringing in another male presence to displace this guy will do it.

No. You will not be friends with him in the future. I think you should consider moving apartments, too, just to break all ties.

Make sure he did not copy your car keys.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 8:48 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Coming home from work every day to find him still sitting on the couch playing games, my dogs still locked in their cage, the house a mess, and all the food I'd bought eaten... Yeah, of course we started to get into spats.

At this point, it was clear that you were saddled with a total loser and jerk. Then you went on for nearly 20 more paragraphs. Paragraphs which made clear he isn't just a lazy, selfish, entitled jerk, but abusive -- to his benefactor, no less! -- into the bargain.

You have been more than tolerant and fair to someone who hasn't deserved it from you for some time. It's sweet of you to not want to make him homeless, but I'd bet he can finagle himself onto someone else's couch, "temporarily" at least. In the meantime, his abusiveness raises genuine alarms.

Get your friend with you, and kick him out, immediately, no negotiation. Change the locks, and block him completely. You do not need this person and his toxic stew in your life at all, and you're doing him no favors anyway by enabling his video-game-playing sloth. Good luck.
posted by Gelatin at 8:50 AM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

One other thought... a lot of people here are treating this as a case where he may turn violent at any moment, and this is DEFCON-1 and you need to bring in the big guns. And they may be right.

And it's possible that except for threatening your dogs, he's never been violent, so you're reading those responses and feeling even more overwhelmed because The Internet Is Overreacting Again, but where does that leave you with your small interpersonal issue?

So I just wanted to say that let's say the reverse is true, and he's the kind of guy who mouths off but would never actually hurt anyone... even if that's the case, that's still what Domestic Violence services are here for - they are set up to help you get the resources and have the conversations you need to extricate yourself safely. You don't have to say you're scared for your life, or that he is violent. Just bring this post question, or tell them what you wrote here. It's enough.

You can get the help you need to get him out of your home and your life, without having to say things you don't believe. This isn't about him. It's about you.
posted by Mchelly at 8:58 AM on August 18, 2016 [16 favorites]

have repeatedly asked him to start looking for other living options. Sometimes he agrees, claims he's already looking, but most of the time its the sob story about having nowhere else to go.

You have asked him, but you haven't TOLD him. He's taking advantage of the fact that you don't yet seem serious. Hopefully this thread will emphasize how serious it really is.

Do you feel safe clearly and unequivocally telling him he MUST move out, no compromises, no negotiation, no ifs ands or buts, by X date? And that if he does not do so, there will be X consequence (i.e, you will change locks, call police, whatever you feel safe saying and would actually stick to)?

How did his other victims get him out? Would you feel safer if you fibbed and said someone else is moving in on X date so he has to be gone?
posted by kapers at 9:08 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I understand that you want to negotiate a soft landing, one that won't make him mad and scary and burn bridges. Unfortunately I do not think there is a soft landing here. This guy is bad in a way which makes negotiating an amicable split unlikely verging on impossible.
posted by hungrytiger at 9:35 AM on August 18, 2016 [9 favorites]

I'm so sorry you're going through this. Lots of good advice upthread about running this all through your local DV resource, to make sure you stay within the letter of the law. I suspect this is going to mean you end up being the one to have to move out, even if this means breaking your lease, but that's still a far cry above the alternative, which is either litigation with this asshole, or physical violence from him after a confrontation.

One things leaps out at me from your question:

If he wants to go do something, he just grabs my keys and heads for the door without even asking, then flips out when I stop him. He's even done this when he knows I have to work.

This, right here? Sounds an awful lot like car theft to me. Does that pale in comparison to all the awful other shit he's doing? Yes. Will it resonate with the local police department when you report it, in a way that calling in a domestic violence incident might not? Yes. If it were me looking for an opportune way to get out without risking a confrontation with him, I'd call my car in as stolen, and have friends standing by to load up the car while he spends the night explaining why he was driving a car registered to the person who reported it stolen. Future dealings with law enforcement can also then be predicated on "This guy who stole my car is still harassing me" rather than "my abusive ex is harassing me." Which, admittedly, is a horrible indictment of the police, but is probably the surest way to make sure you get the attention of law enforcement.

Like I said, though: run this all by the DV hotline, and make sure you're within the letter of the law. Don't worry about burning bridges, just worry about getting you and your pets out safely.
posted by Mayor West at 9:41 AM on August 18, 2016 [20 favorites]

You know what, the plan outlined in that Reddit post is golden. Will your landlord let you end your current lease? Can you move to a new place, with a new lease, to which your ex has no rights at all? It might cost you some extra money (30-60 days of rent while he "subleases" from you, maybe some annoying security deposit stuff), but this seems small compared to what he's put you through.
posted by the_blizz at 10:04 AM on August 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

I haven't read all the responses, so this has probably come up already, but-

I'm really, really, really sorry to tell you this, but you have to be the one to move.

He's not going to move. He's not going to leave you alone if you "kick him out." He could, and probably will, sue you and/or get the police involved for kicking him out as it's likely to be illegal. He most assuredly will at least berate you, and you will look like the mean and unreasonable one for kicking him out on the street to almost everyone, even if they know how bad he is.

You have to move. It's the only safe and reasonable thing to do. I know you don't think you can afford it, but if you go crying to your apartment complex and explain things, they WILL let you break the lease. (Don't do this until you have a solid alternate living plan in place, since the apartment complex will probably tell him.) Just explain to them that they can't get blood from a stone, so suing either of you over the contract is a waste of their time and money when they could be getting a new better tenant. Explain that you really have no choice and need out. They will let you break the lease. Believe me, apartment complexes really, really don't want screaming matches, domestic violence, and cop cars in their parking lot. Very bad for business. Unless they are utterly desperate for business, they WILL see the light and won't insist on you paying the rest of your lease once they know the situation. They may make you pay another month's rent, or something, but they'll let you get out. I promise you this is like 95% likely to be how this plays out with them.

You NEED to move back in with your parents, or a friend, or a women's shelter, or a new place. That's really your only safe option. Do not tell him where you live, obviously, but expect him to try to find out. Having a roommate may be safer for a while, while he nurses this grudge.

I don't want to be alarmist, but seriously, the period after breaking up with a guy is extremely, extremely dangerous for women. The guy who already had violent tendencies now has nothing to lose and a lot of rage over his lack of control. Be safe.
posted by stockpuppet at 11:14 AM on August 18, 2016 [20 favorites]

I just want to pop in and say that you do not need to let this man drive you out of your home (forever). It is your home, you are on the lease, he does not pay rent, etc. etc. etc. A tactical "vacation" so he has a chance to get himself out without you having to deal with him is one thing, breaking your lease is another.

You certainly don't need to leave your new city because of this loser. The fight to keep your home is a fight that you can win (and will win).

To the extent that he would be dangerous enough return to your home to hurt you, he would also be dangerous enough to hunt you down whether you might try to start anew.

As a survivor of physical abuse in my own home, kicking the bum out* was absolutely the right decision for me. Hold your ground.

Here are the logistics that worked for me (they may not for you): after a fight (he was drunk, he didn't get physical, but he did threaten and I was done with that shit), I drove to the police station and told them that my abusive boyfriend had threatened me. They offered to drive me to a shelter, but I insisted that I wanted him out of the house that I owned. It's possible that their decision to arrest him was based on a previous arrest for DV (yeah, taking him back *that* time is a decision that I regret), but either way I got to sleep in my own bed in my own home that night.

The next morning, I got a call from a local DV shelter (the police had given them my contact info, which I appreciate now because I was far too prideful to admit to myself that I needed help with my DV situation), and the case worker walked me through the steps of getting an order for protection. I went to the county courthouse and filled out the paperwork. I was alone, and it sucked. The case worker had offered to have someone there for me, but again, pride.

Anyways, in the case of my asshole ex the Order for Protection (and general fear of prison) was sufficient to keep him out of my hair (I never had to enforce it). He said any number of vile things about me to our mutual friends (I am married to one of them now, if that tells you anything about how well that strategy worked out for him). He moved back in with his parents. I used our network of mutual friends to keep vague tabs on him (so I'd know if he was back in town, etc.) until he died (not my fault, btw).

For some abusers, in some jurisdictions, OfPs are not worth the paper that they are printed on. But honestly, this guy sounds like a coward, and the paper may be a powerful enough talisman to keep him away. But you know him better than I, and the DV resources in your community know better than any of us how well OfPs (or the local equivalent) are enforced.
posted by toe-up, afterthought heel at 11:55 AM on August 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

Also, OP - I don't think you can take his somewhat amiable/non-violent reaction to being kicked out by multiple, united, presumably able-bodied men as anything predictive. Being kicked out by one physically weaker and isolated woman who he's slept with in the past is COMPLETELY different. It sounds like he has a lot of resentment towards women in general (like over the child support thing; there's a story there) and there's a first time for everything. You don't want to be the one he snaps with and makes it physical.
posted by stockpuppet at 12:40 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Just wanted to add organizations that can get you in contact with your local resources to force him out of there.

* National Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Live Chat
* loveisrespect Call 1-866-331-9474 (24/7). Chat online with loveisrespect (7 days/week, 5:00 PM to 3:00 AM EST) or text loveis to 22522
* RAINN. You can Live Chat with RAINN 24/7.
* Crisis Text Line: Text SUPPORT to 741-741 (24/7)

Everyone I've tried getting helpful suggestions from just repeats "get him out" and obviously I know that needs to happen, but no one is helping me figure out HOW to do that, with the least amount of potential for damage.

That's what those organizations do--they help you figure out the HOW.

Good luck. Stay safe.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:49 PM on August 18, 2016 [10 favorites]

Previous commenters have offered much wisdom, so I'll address just one aspect of your situation:

Here's some advice about why and how to get your pets to safety (so, as Vaike says, you have one less thing to worry about):

* Establish ownership of the pets: obtain an animal license, proof of vaccinations or veterinary receipts in your name to help prove who owns the pets
* Prepare the pets for departure (collect vaccination and medical records, collar and identification, medication, bowls, bedding, etc.).
* Ask for assistance from law enforcement or animal care and control officers to reclaim the pets if left behind.

And the Humane Society has a state-by-state directory of programs that provide safe havens for animals belonging to people in domestic violence situations.

Many, many people are hoping that things turn out OK for you. Please stay in touch and take care of yourself.
posted by virago at 5:53 PM on August 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

Are you waiting till he breaks one of your dog's legs or kills one of them? Or are you waiting till he hurts you?
He is abusive and dangerous. He has no respect for you. He has been abusing and disrespecting you for months, and he believes you are weak and malleable. He is a leech with a monstrous sense of entitlement. Every day, every hour, he spends in your space makes him harder and harder to get rid of and feeds his expectations of your servitude.

Have a locksmith on hold and your cousin and several of their largest friends with you, and then tell the abuser he has 1/2 hour to pack and get out.

Immediately tell him that the friend who is visibly holding the phone will be dialing 911 for police to remove him if he argues or attempts violence. After one half hour, if he isn't ready, tell him police will be called and they can help him out.

Don't give him ANY warning before you do this. Delete the information from your hard drive so he won't find this post on your hard drive. Same with emails, text and phone.

Have one of the people with you bring, and be the one to hand over to him, some cardboard boxes, tape,
a roll of large plastic garbage sacks, and an envelope labeled cab fare: $20. You want him to know you have the physical and psychological support behind you to do this. If you have one smigion of guilt, that cab fare should more than take care of it. You owe him nothing!

I don't think you realize how bad this has progressed and how many excuses you have made for him. This guy is more than toxic, he's manipulative and extremely abusive. I really hope his laziness wins out over his desire to stalk you afterwards. Please be careful. This is really ugly right now, and has the possibility to be horrific.

After thinking this through, if you have the gut sense any part of this scenario could go wrong, remove yourself from the situation, and have authorities handle it.

Seconding those above who are telling you to contact some sort of abuse help group. You really need the support and to be able to figure out why you were positioned to let this happen. It wouldn't suprise me if you develop PTSD afterwards.
Stay safe.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:59 PM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Mchelly, controlling behavior and emotional abuse are still abuse. He doesn't have to hit her for it to be abusive behavior.
posted by Brittanie at 1:16 AM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

An update sure would steady my nerves here.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 7:10 PM on August 19, 2016 [17 favorites]

He has to be the one to go, but if I throw him out on the street he'll go to all our mutual friends and paint it so that I'm somehow the psycho in this scenario. I just moved here, I do't want to lose all of my friends just because they know him better and those who don't have personal experience with how he treats people he lives with.

Seriously, you are better off kicking him out. Do you really want to be running into him via your mutual friends later?

You can always make new friends via the usual ways people do when they move someplace new.

edit: Also, he probably won't be homeless if you kick him out -- you say his friends don't know what he's like to live with. Well, if they think he is so great someone will probably be willing to help him out. In fact he might already have prepared for getting thrown out, he probably has a friend who he's been telling stories about how you are abusive to him, and he's scared and maybe if he has to leave in a hurry one day he can come live with them for "just a week or two".

You might well end up being friends with some of his friends later even if you loose them for a bit. He sounds like the sort of person who ends up having to make new friends a lot.
posted by yohko at 7:26 PM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't know if this will work for you, but I was once in a shared house with a friend, and a guy who was pretty unpleasant / dangerous to live with. My friend went to the letting agent and explained the situation. After a bit of negotiation they let us break the lease we had, on the agreement that we'd sign for a different property for another year, which seemed like a good solution for everyone.
posted by Ned G at 7:55 AM on August 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I hope you are able to get yourself and your dogs to a safe place and get this rotten scumbag out of your life however possible. If an early frost kills him in the harsh streets, so be it. His problems are not yours.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:33 PM on August 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I still exist.

Douchebag is still here.

Still working on the situation.

I haven't been on my laptop since the night I posted this, because he's always sprawled on the couch and tries to 'accidentally' sit in a way that forces physical contact (like playing with my dogs in a way that lets him shove his face almost into my lap, wtf).

I got him to pay rent by telling him that I had no way to come up with the rest of the money, none of my friends will loan me anything so long as it involves helping support him (mostly true).

I got him out of my bed by moving into the closet. No, really, I have a walk in closet big enough to fit my full sized bed, with just enough space for a fan. Its actually quite a glorious little nest, and even once I get the place back to myself I may well keep it in there... Until then, its a haven of solitude.

He whines constantly because I pull away, because I've made it overwhelmingly clear that the sex train is permanently closed, that I no longer consider him a friend.

This week I've started taking opportunities to suggest relocation options for him. Until then, every time I asked him to leave was during a fight. I'm making a point of always saying it while things are calm, and in a reasonable tone of voice.

He's trying to ingratiate himself (which in this case really just means that there's occasionally a day or two between outbursts) by offering to buy me food. Mostly when I'm driving him to fast food, rather than letting him borrow the car.

I do not let him use the car, and have told him in no uncertain terms that he is not welcome to use it. I keep the keys in my pocket or purse, and have told him bluntly that I'll report the car stolen if he tries to take it without asking.

I still run him to and from work, because I don't trust him not to quit his job in a tantrum over having to ride the bus. I've made it very clear that this is an unwelcome burden and I'm doing it because I don't trust him to remain employed if he can find any excuse to be lazy again. I've also made it clear that should he quit, and not have a new job within a week, he's out the door.

I've made it clear that should he ever even "jokingly" threaten my dogs, his is out the door and will never be welcome back.

His brilliant suggestion to my repeatedly telling him that I need my apartment back to myself, that I want to be alone, etc, is to offer to switch to an overnight shift so that we won't see each other as much and it will be during hours he can take the bus more easily. I pointed out the fact that he only works 3-4 days a week and is always home on my days off won't change the problem of being in the same place.

Last month I meant to set aside his rent money to return to him at the end of the month so that he can move out. Realized my car registration was up last month rather than November as I'd thought, and needed the money for inspections and such (his disappointment at the car being pronounced in good health aside from the need of a new serpentine belt, that was priceless... I pointed out he has no leg to stand on for his attempts to convince me its not worth keeping and should be sold to him).

I've spoken to his former roommates and several friends who are willing to support me (his former roommates want to come dump all of his belongings into my apartment complex's swimming pool, hah).

Unfortunately, I've had to run a slow campaign. I've gotten to the point of not giving a fuck if he is inconvenienced, but I'm afraid of the confrontation that will come when I do finally tell him officially to get the fuck out.

I've been looking at local laws. Him not being on the lease doesn't mean I can just change the locks and throw him out. Squatters rights. I can try to give him a 30 day notice, but that requires getting through 30 days of occupying the same space, him being in the house while I'm at work, etc.

Without actual proof of abuse, the police cannot get involved. Any kind of protective or restraining order also requires proof of abuse. No one has ever witnessed the way he treats me (barring one grocery store incident where other shoppers watched him yell at me, but complete strangers and it wasn't enough of a scene to even alert staff).

None of our fights are loud enough to alert the neighbors or result police intervention for domestic issues.

My landlord will not evict him for me... any eviction would include both of us, as I've been letting him live here in violation of the lease. They're looking into whether I might be able to move myself into a different apartment (bonus, smaller and cheaper) without having to pay another deposit and such... and since he works 12 hour days, I can get friends to help me shift over while he's at work. Then, since he's not on the lease, and I wouldn't be moving him with me, he would be considered a trespasser.

I may have mentioned earlier, and excuse if there's ramble now...

While legally I could write him a 30 day notice to vacate, that would still involve living with him and things potentially getting explosive in the meanwhile. I still feel safer trying to get him to leave on his own. Being constantly late to pick him up from work, not letting him use the car, isolating myself from him, and responding negatively whenever he brings up the idea of moving up to a 2 bedroom or any other scheme that involves him living her long term... They all appear to be having an affect, and he's said repeatedly that he's afraid of me throwing him out.

My plan this month is again to set aside his rent money to return to him at the end of the month, so that he can buy a bus ticket away.

I hate that it has become this huge manipulative thing, I hate that I feel so uncomfortable in my own home. There was an explosive (yet still non violent) fight that resulted in me leaving the house with the dogs for several hours, crying inconsolably as I wandered around my apartment complex not wanting to go home. He slept on the couch, and that night I moved myself into the closet. That was my breaking point. Its clear that he realizes this was when my "don't give a damn" switch flipped on... and I may have told him plainly that I only let him stay out of guilt and pity and that's run out.

Yes, I know that I should just cut the cord but my credit is shot enough that finding another place I can afford becomes increasingly difficult. I don't consider packing up and moving out to be an option, but hopefully the apartment management can help with my plan to take the smaller unit.

I had more to say, but lost track, so sorry. I'll try to check back in sooner!!
posted by myShanon at 10:10 PM on October 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

I am so, so glad to read your update. I was very worried about you and kept checking back here regularly to see how things were going. Don't give up hope or stamina. You're doing the right thing.
posted by Brittanie at 11:21 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

hopefully the apartment management can help with my plan to take the smaller unit

Make sure the apartment management knows not to say where your new unit is. If your immediate neighbors ask where you are moving to, name somewhere far away. Life will probably be easier if he doesn't come bother you in the new place. (edit: sounds like it would be a problem for them to know he's living there, but when you are moving you could mention you are trying to keep an ex who keeps coming around and bothering you from knowing about the new place)

If you can manage to put your car somewhere else for a bit, or trade cars with a friend whose car he doesn't know, that will make it harder for him to tell where you went.

Consider what you will use for your mailing address. You might want a PO box. If you get one at the post office, they will want to see proof of residence like a lease. You might want to get one secretly now, so your current address will be the one on file.

Also, do what you can to protect yourself from identity theft. He might have a lot of your info. He could well have a copy of your car key, so consider having the door locks changed.
posted by yohko at 12:52 AM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

You do not owe him repayment of whatever pittance he's given you for rent: he has lived there, which means yes he owes a share of the rent: keep that money! (He's fucked up your finances enough that even if he didn't owe it as rent, he damn well ought to pay you for emotional distress.) He's also cost you car usage and gas money, none of which I'll bet he's offered (let alone actually paid you for), and of course the food he's eaten and things like your internet I'm sure he's used as if he has some sort of right to them.

Take care of yourself; the plan to move without notifying him is a very good one.
posted by easily confused at 2:41 PM on October 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Glad to hear you are OK as this Ask Metafilter question has haunted me for a while.

What jumps out to me is, have you tried getting in touch with a place that offers resources for people in your situation? Just because you can't charge him right away with a crime should not exclude all the other choices for seeking an intervention.

I would think a crisis center would love to help someone in your situation. You have every right to cut off this dude completely and it does seem worrisome that you're still having to drive him around and waiting on him to make decisions.

Another thought, if he's afraid of you throwing him out, maybe he's such a coward that he won't bother pushing for squatters' rights to get back in, but will just fold and crawl off into the night forever? A lot of bullies just fold under pressure.
posted by johngoren at 11:32 AM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

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