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Subject: How to handle aggressive resident?
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Author Messages
VeronicaV
(Arizona)

Posts:14


07/13/2020 12:54 PM  
My term is up soon, and I'll be running again. I would quit, especially given my situation described below, but if any of my opponents (the vocal minority) get elected, they will destroy everything the current board has accomplished and create chaos again. I can't, in good conscience, not run.

One of these opponents is beginning to become a problem. He's set on being on the board but has been passed over four times already; once losing the election and thrice not being selected to replace a departing board member. I (more than forty years his junior) was chosen over him for the last appointment; he didn't speak to me for three months, despite being my immediate neighbor.

He's become increasingly hostile toward the board after his recall of the board failed. He has also slandered me several times on social media. What concerns me is that both he and his wife have been aggressive toward me in person. He plays security on a daily basis, one such incident resulting in a physical altercation that required police involvement. It doesn't help that he appears to be an alcoholic with an unstable temper.

Other than being confrontational and verbally aggressive with me, nothing else has happened. Nevertheless, I no longer leave the house without pepper spray and I will be installing cameras on my house (I live alone) before I announce I'm running.

Has anyone had to deal with such a person? How did you handle your personal safety?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/13/2020 2:20 PM  
Fortunately none of the residents I've dealt with have been this bad. The fact that this has escalated to a physical altercation is troubling.

Listen to your fear - it's there to protect you.

I understand not wanting to walk away from what you've accomplished. But in my view, no board member - ever - should put themselves in harm's way in order to serve their community. And what happens if you get hurt and have to step down? You'll be replaced anyway. And it sounds like the rest of the community has this guy's number, so he probably won't ever get elected.

Sadly, the news is full of stories about violent people who continue to escalate. Police reports and arrests don't stop them. Restraining orders don't stop them. Jail time doesn't stop them. Usually if they've been stopped, it's because they are either in prison for murdering someone, or their victim shot them dead (and may be in prison herself as a result).

In this situation, any upside goes to the association, you get only downside. In my book, that's a no brainer: walk away. But if he still doesn't stop the harassment, take steps to protect yourself. Hope for the best but prepare yourself to deal with the worst. (I had a stalker once upon a time, and found self-defense and martial arts training to be most informative.)



JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9678


07/13/2020 3:25 PM  
Veronica

Sorry for your discomfort but I do not see this as an HOA issue. My advice is to contact the local police and place a restraining order on him or just avoid him and hope he calms down.
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:623


07/13/2020 3:32 PM  
Cathy,
Wow you sure went straight to the worst case scenario there.

Veronica,
It sounds like the guy is a Jerk and may have other personal problems. It also sounds like the other Board members are aware of his issues and are smart not to appoint him to your Board. If he is aggressive during your meetings I would announce that because of past issues you want to record the meeting incase it is needed later. Also my first Board 11 years ago had a security guard sit in on the Board meetings because of a Board member with a very bad temper.

I would definitely get cameras for your Home. They pricing and installation has been made so simple and the security it will give you will be well worth it. If the guy ever does cross a line you will need evidence to support any charge you may have to make.
AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/13/2020 6:34 PM  
Document every altercation. Always call the police if this becomes physical. Consider applying to a court for a civil restraining order. Restraining orders can have a great effect.
JaredC
(Texas)

Posts:264


07/13/2020 9:44 PM  
When bad guy homeowners threatened to murder my wife and I... I got license to carry a gun. Arizona has great laws regarding personal protection. Pepper spray works a fraction of the time. Sorry about that. Yeah I was the president of the board at the time.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/14/2020 5:41 AM  
Posted By MarkM19 on 07/13/2020 3:32 PM
Cathy,
Wow you sure went straight to the worst case scenario there.
...



You betcha.

Threats and other verbal bad behavior is one thing, and unfortunately not all that uncommon. What I reacted to was the escalation to physical aggression. That's always a bad sign.

The news is full of stories about people who ignored warning signs such as this. And the consequences of under-reacting are much worse than those of over-reacting. In the latter case, you may feel a little bit silly - in the former case you could be injured or a little bit dead.

Sadly, women experience life differently from men. While there can be violent women and ones who stalk men, the vast majority of cases are the other way around. If a man, who is very likely to be bigger and stronger, is threatening a women, she should assume that her life is in danger until proven otherwise.

Is the OP's neighbor immediately dangerous to her? No idea, and aside from the escalation we don't have enough information. I may be thinking bad thoughts about a sweet ol' guy who is mixing the wrong medications and going off the deep end as a result (it happens). But even sweet ol' guys who are off the rails because of their meds can do bad things.

Most of the suggested responses, such as documenting the behavior, getting restraining orders, etc. do not actually prevent a violent confrontation or help the victim survive it. They only set the stage for successful prosecution after the fact. The person who was attacked needs to be alive and well afterwards in order to benefit.

For more information, read "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin De Becker.


GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/14/2020 5:55 AM  
Great post, Cathy - and, I think you are correct in your assessment of the differences in behavior.

I usually set aside social media posting as mentioned, but even these are leading indicators.

Any kind of in-person "confrontation" by a neighbor - especially a male neighbor to a female, is concerning. Sure it might just be someone mischaracterizing an interaction, but ... I look for flushed face, pacing, very movements, loss of control of words, etc ... all signs - and, did the male neighbor go out of their way - cross the street, walk across lot lines, turn directly and walk rapidly straight at the target - all signs, as well.

I'm not an expert, but I have been around men attempting to bully and intimidate.
AugustinD


Posts:3683


07/14/2020 6:28 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 07/14/2020 5:41 AM

Most of the suggested responses, such as documenting the behavior, getting restraining orders, etc. do not actually prevent a violent confrontation or help the victim survive it. They only set the stage for successful prosecution after the fact. The person who was attacked needs to be alive and well afterwards in order to benefit.
I appreciate your points. But your bottom line seems to be that the victim do what the perpetrator wants: Resign from the board. Maybe move out of the neighborhood. The OP will have to judge for herself. But in my experience, an order, at a hearing with the accused present, from a magistrate to stay 50 feet away from a person is stunningly effective. The order goes on public record, of course. Judges can refuse an application for such an order.

I do suggest the OP be "armed" with a cell phone that records and have this ready anytime she expects an encounter with this guy. People do change when they know their actions are being documented, especially with an audio-video recording.

I guess every situation is different. The OP will have to weigh it all.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1120


07/14/2020 8:00 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/14/2020 6:28 AM

... But your bottom line seems to be that the victim do what the perpetrator wants: Resign from the board. Maybe move out of the neighborhood. The OP will have to judge for herself. But in my experience, an order, at a hearing with the accused present, from a magistrate to stay 50 feet away from a person is stunningly effective. The order goes on public record, of course. Judges can refuse an application for such an order.

...

I guess every situation is different. The OP will have to weigh it all.



I agree that it's unfair that the victim has to make such decisions or limit her choices because of it. But those who don't obey the rules will always have an advantage over those who do.

One of the helpful things about taking self defense classes is that the person conducting the classes (often a police officer) will discuss strategies for staying safe, including which ones work better than others. Even an older person who may not be quite as able bodied any more can benefit by being better informed.

From what I know about restraining orders, they're a mixed bag. They may not be effective if you're dealing with a determined offender. Some years back, a woman in a nearby community was shot and killed by her ex-husband who was subject to a restraining order - he stayed the required distance away, the bullet did not. On the other hand, we have a couple in my community who are well known to the police because they often verbally harass their neighbors. However, their behavior patterns have been consistent for years, they've never escalated to physical confrontations. I don't consider them a serious risk (and now that I'm off the board, they're downright cordial). If they do start to escalate, my assessment will change.
MarkW18


Posts:1290


07/14/2020 12:15 PM  
I am going with Jared.
MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:5


07/14/2020 4:28 PM  
Please seek out the Harassment Laws of your state. In Minnesota the law is very clear and covers obscene, harassing telephone calls, or harassment via letters, telegram, or package. Our Association has brought this law and placed turned it into a rule in our Rules and Regulations. Even with this the Board will need to agree on plan of action towards the Owner. Legal may need to get involved early in the process. Send a clear warning letter which should explain the consequences that will follow if the homeowner continues to violate the rule. As a Board make sure, that if you ask for legal counsel you know who will pay the costs. Hope it ends.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1529


07/14/2020 8:38 PM  
Veronica,

Don't resign from the board if you think it will restore a relationship w/ your neighbor. That relationship is ruined (and it's not because of you).

Second, it's fully within your rights to consider this man and his spouse as "Dead." If you give the attention, they'll take it and bully you.

Third, the next time they accost you, call the police. Seriously. Tell them what these people are doing, your fears and let them handle the situation. They'll understand nutty HOA people. Odds are the abusers will want to tell "their side of the story." That's fine but don't listen to them.

Fourth, if they're slandering you on social media, consult an attorney to rattle their cage.

At this point, they're not inclined to go away unless you freeze them out of your life completely. No acknowledgement.

While I've never, in my experience, reached a level of a verbal harasser - linked to my HOA duties -turning into a physical assailant, I've endured regular harassment from individuals that was solved but telling you'll never speak or deal with them again.....and mean it.

You are a single board member of a multi-director leadership structure. This person needs to fight w/ the board...not you personally. By the way, have you noticed how your board colleagues have allowed this to happen where you absorb one person's anger at their entire community?
MichelleC8
(California)

Posts:45


07/15/2020 7:54 PM  
It is an HOA issue because if this person wasn’t on the board, this wouldn’t be happening right?
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2902


07/16/2020 8:40 AM  
I don't think this is an HOA issue - because there is nothing the HOA can do in cases like this.

If the fellow was on the Board, he should certainly be voted out of any officer position by the Board and voted out of the Board by the membership.
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