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A Scary Neighbor

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answered 07:52 PM EST, Tue January 24, 2012
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My next door neighbor is a bully. He moved in with his wife and kids about a year ago and since he has been there I have never really felt at peace in my own home. He calls me insulting names, he has trained his dogs to bark and lunge at me and my wife. He leers at my wife and will sit in his yard and stare at her when she is working in the garden. He ties his dogs up some nights right at the fence that is under our bedroom window just so they will bark all night and annoy us. He has made not so veiled threats against what he would do to people who give him problems. He will take his guns out and clean them while staring at us across the fence. If we leave our curtains open he will use binoculars and watch us inside our house. I could go on and on.

I am not a big or a violent man. I am in my 50s and he is quite a large and aggressive man in his early 30s. I have no doubt who would prevail in any sort of fight – and I think he would really enjoy beating me if he could. I really think he is a sociopath. I would like to have him arrested because I think the sum total of what he is doing is definitely some sort of illegal harassment but he is smart enough I guess to never do any one thing that is overtly illegal or something I can prove he did (Our cat went missing and I know he did something to them but I can’t prove it).

I am at the end of my rope. I do not want to have to sell because the market is very bad and we would lose a ton of money. But other than selling out I am not sure what to do? Is there anything I can do to get this guy to leave us alone?

David Johnson Says...

I'm not sure this is the right place to get on this manner. I think you should talk to a lawyer and get some advice on your legal rights. Report any harassment or mistreatment or mismanagement of his dogs to the police. Keep a running log of the behavior so as to build a case for harassment including dates, times and photographs. You may also consider security cameras and a privacy fence. You will need a pile of evidence to prove harassment.

The other part of this issue is something you can learn to control. Right now, by paying attention to his behavior, you are playing into his hands. He is harassing you to get under your skin and he's succeeded. I suspect your behavior towards him has convinced him it's working so he does it all the more.  I'd suggest that you make some effort towards ensuring your security, perhaps like I suggest above and then do the best you can to ignore him. He can't harass you if you aren't paying attention. I know this is easier said than done, but it will be worth the effort. You have control over your reactions. Practice managing your thoughts and feelings about his behavior until you start feeling better about it all. 

Another strategy to consider is behaving towards him in a friendly manner. Say hi, comment on his garden, his guns, and anything else you can think of in a friendly engaging manner and a smile on your face. Laugh at his insults, don't respond in kind. Make light of it and demonstrate how entertaining his antics are. He will soon tire of efforts to harass since it's obviously isn't working and look for other victims. 

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Topics Covered by this Expert
Bullies Bullying Harassment PTSD Workplace Bullying

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