Ask Kari: My neighbors are harassing us. What do we do?

Dear Kari,

We have had a long history of drama with the neighbor who lives behind us. It all started with a boundary line dispute when he suddenly claimed about 6 feet of our back yard. My husband and I thought things would settle with a survey and a fence, but drama continued. He pointed profanity-laced signs toward our house, out of the view of other neighbors, that expressed his displeasure with us. He stood behind our house saying threatening, foul things at the top of his lungs; aimed strobe lights and work lights at our bedroom windows; and a rock was thrown through one of our windows. His behavior worsens whenever my husband is out of town, so I wonder if we are being watched. We have not engaged with him since the survey, no matter how annoying his behavior is, as we do not want to escalate the situation. Do you have any better suggestions?

--Longing for Peace

Dear Longing for Peace,

It sounds like you and your family have been through a lot with your neighbor. I am sorry it has been such a struggle to have peace in your home. I recommend you continue to do what you are doing, documenting what goes on but not engaging personally with your neighbor. I would use police interaction as needed. You do not know the mental status of the neighbor and whether they have the capacity to make good decisions. It’s best to avoid personal encounters with historically unstable people if possible, as there are just too many unknown factors and chances for a poor outcome.


As published in the September 2020 issue of Connections.

About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.

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