Suggestions for a friend who's having a rough time with neighborhood kids? (LONG)

"For the last 6 years I’ve been the target of the children of the
neighborhood. I don’t really understand why. They call me freak lady and throw things at my house. It started harmlessly enough, lunch leftovers, snow balls, mud. Then it was snowballs and I started to go out and tell them not to do that, that it could result in broken windows. So I guess I inspired them because the aim got more deliberately at my windows and then
it was rocks, spark plugs, wrench sockets.

"Well by then I was calling the police who would come out and be patronizing with the freak lady and do nothing. As in childhood the advice I keep getting is either to ignore it or get violent. Well violence is anathema to me, I won’t go there, not for anything.

"I know from childhood that ignoring them means they up the ante until it’s destructive enough you CANT ignore them. So I put up acrylic on all the windows. When they smashed one acrylic sheet I bought a heavier one. Then I put up a high fence after finally
saving enough, last summer, hoping it would cut down on my attractiveness. Then it was a molotov cocktail thrown at my house shortly after 9/11 and the police finally realized this was serious. I put horrible ugly metal grates on my windows that keep me from opening the windows. It’s awful. I hoped it was over and soon I could take the grates off and live normal again… besides, the little fu!!rs were finally getting older and would have more important things to do, right?

"So today there’s thumps on the side of my house again. I look out and watch these 3 girls throwing snow lumps at my house as if it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. I go out. “Why are you doing that?” They had no answer. I tried to keep my tone unthreatening and kept asking for a reason. The taller girl seemed to mumble something, it might have been “just wanted to meet you” or “just fun to …something” I don’t know for sure. I asked her to repeat it and she said she didn’t say anything. I just couldn’t get anywhere and finally told them it’s not cool to throw crap at my house. I pointed to the metal grates and said “This is what it means to me, I hate those grates, I had a firebomb thrown at my house, I don’t want to be mean and get you in trouble, I just want to be left alone!”

"I went back in and looked out. They kept standing there! I went back out and told them to move on. I watched and they started walking, holding more snow lumps and looking back to see me at the window and throw the lumps instead of at my house at the sidewalk.

"It was extremely weird. I finally called the police to ask exactly what am I supposed to do. They said just call them, every time. I don’t have much faith in that.

"WHAT am I supposed to do? This is a frightening thing. It’s terrorism and I am being more and more tightly isolated into my house and yard trying to avoid being seen and noticed and wanting to just be forgotten. This is a whole new generation though. They hand it down from generation to generation and I can’t afford a house in any other neighborhood except worse ones.

“I don’t want to keep living like this. I’m 38 years old, this crap was supposed to be over in high school. I just want to live my life quietly, I’d like to be a help and a member of the community, not some scared lady hiding behind grated windows and a tall fence. I want it OVER. I don’t want any advice that involves hurting them. I can’t identify them because of my face blindness and the fact that I don’t know any of the families in this neighborhood. Because of my autism I can’t go get socially involved in the community. I tried that my first year and it may well have been the cause of all this. I dont’ socialize correctly, I say all the wrong things and come off looking like a flake,
freak, weirdo or psycho. This is a very real problem that has stopped me from even keeping a job. I am a gentle caring person, I’m fun, I’m interesting, I don’t deserve this.”

This from an email (basically the entire email) from someone who’s on my bullying support list (support for people who are survivors, or current sufferers of, bullying). My first thought was to get a big dog, but evidently this woman (she’s identified herself as such previously, I believe) doesn’t have enough of a yard for one.

The only thing else I can think of is to get rid of everything she has protecting the house, because obviously the kids think of it as a sort of challenge. Anyone got some good advice for her? Thanks in advance:)

I think a dog would be a bad idea because it would give the little turds something else to torture.

My suggestion is to get a video camera and document this abuse. Then go to the police with the evidence and force them to handle this situation. Contact a lawyer if they refuse to act.

Hope things get better for her.

My first thought is “video camera”. Would it be possible for her to borrow one so that she has a record of exactly what was done and her face blindness isn’t going to be a barrier to identifying those responsible?

My second thought is short-term housemate. Is there anyone who could stay with her for a little while (preferably someone with enough balls to kick the local police into some kind of action), not just to reassure her, but also to communicate to these little hooligans that their behaviour is totally unacceptable?

Finally, encourage her to keep written records of every incident and every single cent she spends in either trying to prevent or restoring damage. Then when the culprits are identified hit their parents for the costs (and take out restraining orders etc).

These fuckdrops are committing crimes and they need to be treated like criminals.

Your support group sounds like a wonderful resource. I’m wondering if there is a health worker of some kind (social worker, doctor, trauma counsellor) who can be encouraged to put pressure on the police to take decisive action before your friend’s life is totally destroyed.

You’re being a great friend punha. I hope this works out for your friend, and I hope you’re proud of yourself for giving her the support she so very much needs right now.

Best wishes to both of you. :slight_smile:

If she can’t afford a video camera, jsuta $5 disposable camera might work just as well: as soon as she hears thumps she can go outside and start (very visibly) taking snapshots. If the kids ask what she is doing, she can say “This is what the cops told me to do.”

This is a bit odd, but if that dosen’t work, she could also try sending out a letter like this:

Dear neighbor:

My name is XXXX and I have been living here for XXXX years. Small neighborhoods being what they are, I am sure you all know that I suffer from severe mental problems. As a result, I seem to have become a target for local children (describe, history escalating violence, focusing on property damage, not steps taken to stop it)… I know that mental illness makes kids nervous, and that the natural reaction is to torment me. however, I can not live like this. As a result of my mental illness, I do not have the ability to follow children home and address their parents: I can not function with strangers. Therefore, the only option I have when children (list specific behaviors here) is to immediatly call the police.

One thing I have noticed is that amoung the groups of children who harass me, there tends to be one ringleaders and several kids who are being egged on (this is becasue it’s easier for parents to believe there kids are being “led astray” OYU have to give them a graceful way to begin thinking that it could be their little angel). Please talk to your children and explain to them why (specific behavoir) the neighborhood crazy lady is wrong. Give them the tools they need to resist bullys who egg them on to torment me, and make it clear that this behavoir is unacceptable.

I feel like I’m living in To Kill a Mockingbird and I am Boo Radely. I understand that the children are curious. But they are making my life a living hell.

Thank you,

Blah Blah

This may seem a bit harsh on your friend (“neighborhood crazy lady” makes me cringe), but I think this serves a couple points: To the very stupid, it suggests she might be dangerous, which can only help (hey, if you can’ t fix ignorance, use it) , to the more intelligent is says she’s ill, and deserves consideration, and to everyone it shows she’s not inhiman, she has a sense of humor, and that increases the over all empathy she will inspire.

But this is a weird thing and I would only do it as a last resort.

This group is a fabulous resource, reprise:slight_smile: They were basically my SDMB before I had the SDMB. I have emailed my friend a link to this thread and told her she was free to post here if she likes, or simply read the thread if that’s what she wants.

It’s kinda funny. If she were on opposite terms with the neighborhood, with all the stuff she’s put up, it would make a really fun haunted house:D