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Dear Wendy

Roommates' relative moved in, trying to force me out of the house

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  • #693736 Reply

    I live in Miami with, until recently, two housemates. They’re cousins, Jay is 23 and Anthony 26, and I’m a 20-year-old girl. I was friends with Jay for a year before I moved in, and got to be friends with Anthony after I did. I grew up in an abusive home life and was looking for somewhere to move to outside of visiting distance so I could get away from an increasingly toxic situation, something I’d discussed with him. He mentioned that their then-current roommate was moving out and asked if I’d like to come to Miami. I’d spent the last year in college but ended up dropping out, so I accepted.

    At the end of April, a few months ago, Anthony asked if we would be all right with his mom, Deynise, moving in with us. We live in a 3/2 house, so she would be living in the little front area by the front door that was technically part of the living room but was a step down from the rest of the house. No privacy, about an 8×20 space, but she claimed she’d be fine with that even though she’d never been to our house or met me or Jay. She said that she didn’t feel safe in the place she was currently living in and that it was making her health worse. She’d never been in his life until now but claimed that she absolutely had to move in with her only child, right away, and didn’t want to live anywhere else. I personally thought it was a load of bull but I said yes when asked if I was all right with her moving in since I didn’t really care.

    She was nice for the first month, and then her behaviour started getting increasingly inappropriate toward me and friends I had in the home. She invites people to live with us for up to a month at a time, asking Jay’s and Anthony’s permission but not even telling me. She uses my things without permission and has even stolen some that she refused to give back, screams at me that I’m a liar and a thief every time she misplaces something of her own. There was a misunderstanding where she thought I gave her my tv a few months ago, she’s verbally threatened me every time I ask for it back, and still has it because the only way I will get it back is if I take it while she’s gone. I do my best to always be respectful to her but she just about goes off the rails every time anything happens involving me. She’s yelled at and verbally threatened friends I have over, and raised her hand to one of them. She’s also tried to physically keep me from eating and threw away any food I bought for a period of about a month. She is essentially recreating the abusive life I moved to Miami to escape, minus the physical abuse, which she’s already threatened me with.

    Am I within my rights to ask that she be told to move out if she doesn’t stop treating me like this, or should I just leave myself? Most of it has been in situations where it’s her word against mine, and she constantly tries to make our roommates believe her over me. She’s refused all attempts by my roommates and I to talk with her about things, going as far as to get up and walk out of the house when we try. She’s got Anthony half-convinced that she’s right but Jay is firmly on my side. I keep a knife within reach whenever she’s at home because she’s threatened to hit me and one of my friends, and I’m afraid she’ll actually attack me. The rest of the post is details about the problems mentioned above.

    My friend gave me a lot of things around the beginning of May. I gave some stuff to my roommates and said other things were for all of us to use. But I said I’d be keeping the rest for myself and asked that they didn’t use my things without getting my permission first, specifically including things that Deynise had tried to get me to give to her a couple times, because I already didn’t entirely trust her at the time. I told her that I’d let her use them whenever I wasn’t myself, but very strongly stressed that I wanted her to ask first instead of just using them. She tended to borrow my things without asking, small stuff like lighters and cups. For clarification, these were things that I left in my room that I would find in Deynise’s living area. At the time, I hesitated to say it was stealing or call her out on it.

    I went back to my parents’ home the beginning of May to pick up some things that I hadn’t brought with me when I moved. I told Jay that Deynise could use my tv while I was gone but that she couldn’t keep it. I was clear on that point since she’d tried to get me to give it to her several times. Until then, it had been sitting in the living room. It only had a wall mount and I had decided to leave it with the other tv in the living room until I figured out if I wanted to put it in my room or the living room. Since I was going to be gone for the weekend, I told Jay she could use it until I came back, and that they could mount it on the living room wall if they wanted.

    When I came back home at the end of the weekend, my tv was mounted on the wall in Deynise’s room. I was surprised by that and made a comment along the lines of “oh you have my tv mounted in here, I thought it’d be in the living room”. She started getting defensive and almost yelling about how Jay said she could have it and helped her get it up there. I went to talk to Jay to ask him what was going on. He said that she’d told him that I’d given Anthony the tv, and that Anthony had given it to her. We realised that Deynise had decided it was hers now and believed she was within her rights to raise Cain if ever I wanted my property back.

    At the time, I wasn’t using the tv myself anyway, and figured it would just make me a jerk to take away something that she was using and I wasn’t. She refused to acknowledge me when I tried to talk to her but there was no way she misunderstood what I said. I pretty much said “I let you use it while I wasn’t here, but I will be taking it back soon because it’s mine, not yours.” She wouldn’t talk to Jay or Anthony either. We decided to let it go for the time and revisit the subject at a later date when I actively wanted the tv back. She had always been nice and polite to me before then, so I assumed it was just a knee-jerk reaction, and things would clear up and we’d be getting along again.

    I was wrong. She started demanding that I go to the store and buy her things, sometimes offering to give me money but usually saying that she’d pay me back even though she never paid back anyone that bought things for her. I told her each time that I would pick things up for her when I normally went shopping but wouldn’t make specialty trips for her at the drop of a hat. I told her that if she invaded my private space without warning and refused to leave, I would not rush to do whatever it was she was demanding that I do. However, I also said that if she knocked on my door, came in with permission, and asked rather than ordered, I would be happy to obey. She chose to throw a temper tantrum, slam my door behind her, and tell Jay that I’d been rude to her and thrown her out of my room.

    She invited her two grandsons, five and seven, to live with us for a month. She informed me that she would have her grandkids over for lunch the day before they came, which I didn’t care about. She had asked for Anthony’s and Jay’s permission and lied to them that she’d gotten mine. Since they were not at all kids to be trusted with breakable things, when I found out they were staying for a long time, I moved a lot of my stuff into my room that I had formerly left in the kitchen or living room. Mugs, gaming systems, dishes, glass candles. Basically anything that a couple kids could break, since Deynise had told them that they didn’t need to ask before using anything in the house. Jay and I set them straight on that the day after they moved in, saying that they needed to ask before they used something that wasn’t their grandmother’s, and they listened to us.

    However, Deynise started taking things from my room and telling the kids that they were hers. They broke two of my mugs and one of my plates before I told them that they were not allowed to use any of my things unless they got my permission face-to-face each time. I was open with them that their grandmother had given them my things without my permission, and told them that I wasn’t angry at them for breaking my stuff but didn’t want them touching my things unless I was in the room with them. They were actually pretty cool about it, said they understood, and I had no more problems with them. I asked Deynise to replace what they’d broken and she refused.

    Me being honest with the kids just made Deynise even angrier with me. She cornered me while I was making myself lunch and told me that I wasn’t allowed to eat anything in the kitchen, and if I touched anything that she bought or made, there would be consequences. I pointed out that I had my own food in the fridge, and she demanded to know what was mine. I humoured her, thinking she just wanted proof, and went into my room to eat my food. By dinnertime, she’d dumped everything that I’d identified as mine out of their containers and into the trash can. I asked Jay about it, he said he didn’t know what was up but that he’d let me eat anything that was his.

    From then on, Deynise raced into the kitchen whenever she heard anyone in it. If it was Anthony or Jay, she’d ask him how he was doing and offer to make him food. If it was me, she’d get close enough that I often could physically feel her breathing on me, and watch everything I did. She would slam the fridge, freezer, or cabinets closed every time I opened them, took food I’d cooked from my plate, and a couple times even tried to hit the plate from my hands.

    I ended up having to ask Jay to come with me whenever I wanted to get food or a drink, because she never acted like that around witnesses. Eventually she dropped the act around him and refused to let me eat anything even if he was there with me. He ended up having to make food for both of us, going into his room to eat, and then texting me to join him. I’d sneak into his room and lock the door so she couldn’t barge in on us. My habit of locking the doors so I was physically able to eat led to her being very suspicious of me and constantly telling me I was a girl destined for trouble who was polluting Jay. I just didn’t answer her.

    Finally Jay and I lied and told her that we were together, which led to her tolerating me at times. She no longer yells at me or stops me from eating. However, she still takes small things. I found my lighter on her bed just last week. She’s started getting aggressive at times with Jay’s two cats, stuff like clapping her hands at them if they’re near her things, raising her hand as if she’d hit them, or running at them if they’re anywhere in front of her while she’s walking. I was due to get a service dog but cancelled my application because I’m concerned she would act the same way towards whatever dog I got.

    Last month I had a friend, Crystal, over for a few days a week. One night she showed up just after dark and asked if she could stay the night. Someone had been watching her house all day, and she was afraid that the person would break in as she lived alone. I told her that she could, and got one of my pillows and a blanket for her so she could sleep on the couch. Deynise had my tv on in her room and usually stayed up until about 9:30 or 10 PM, so we put on a movie of our own in the living room. We had to turn it up a little, but as it was, we missed maybe a word out of every ten because of how loud she had mine on, even though we asked her to turn it down.

    My phone started to die, so I told Crystal I was going to go charge it in my room and then come back. Deynise invited herself into my room and started yelling about Crystal being there. She was maybe ten feet away from her, so of course Crystal heard everything. She came over and asked if she’d done anything wrong, introduced herself by name and as my friend, and apologised if she’d done anything to bother her before Deynise had even acknowledged her. At the apology, Deynise gave her a dirty look, turned to me, and said “I won’t talk to a person like that.” Deynise’s tone of voice made it pretty clear that she was referring to Crystal being black. Crystal asked her what she meant by that and pointed out that she hadn’t intentionally done anything to bother her since she’d gotten there an hour ago.

    Deynise turned around, raised her hand like she was going to backhand Crystal in the face, swore at her, and told her not to speak to her. She said that this was her house and that she could make Crystal leave if she didn’t want her here, and that it didn’t matter if she was my friend or anyone else’s. That immediately got me angry. For one thing, it wasn’t Deynise’s house. She paid no more rent than I did, and had been living there less than a quarter of the time. Mostly it was that she clearly had no problem with hitting her. I told her to get out of my room and that I would call the police on her if she hit either one of us. She started screaming at me so loudly and so fast that I couldn’t tell her words apart, but she woke up the entire house since it was about ten at night and Jay and Anthony had been asleep. They told her that I had every right to have a friend over and not to harass either of us. Her behaviour toward Crystal was worse after that, and she basically treated her the same way she treated me until Crystal was afraid to come to my house if Deynise was around.

    At the moment, she’s generally indifferent toward me besides constant dirty looks. Most of it now is just petty stuff. She’ll steal little things she asked to borrow. I’ll find evidence she was in my room but nothing will be missing. I brought home a cookie jar that she took into the kitchen and filled with coffee grounds, which she uses to make coffee sometimes, and refuses to give back to me. She also still has my tv, and has the volume up loud enough that she’s asked to turn it down at least twice a day because it’s loud enough that I can’t hear music playing in headphones. I revisited the topic of getting it back, with Jay helping me, and Deynise threw a tantrum. There’s no other word for it. At this point, the only way I’m getting the tv back is if I steal it off the wall while she’s gone, but that will lead to far more drama than I want to handle.

    In the last three months, Deynise has managed to put me into a worse place mentally than I’ve been in two years. She’s influenced Anthony to the point that we’re no longer really friends, and has strained my relationship with Jay as she almost only talks to him when she’s complaining to him about things I’ve done or she wants him to think I’ve one. Between her being my elder and constantly saying she feels ill, I’m hesitant to mention to Anthony and Jay that I want her out asap. I have the money to keep paying bills, but not to move out to a new place. So if things don’t resolve, I’ll be stuck living with my parents, which is just worse enough than the current situation that I don’t want to. I’ve done everything I can to resolve things, but gotten nowhere. What do I do?

    #693739 Reply

    Alright I read for a while but this is 20 paragraphs. I counted. Move out. After a bunch of my TV, knife in hand, etc that is the answer. Perhaps I missed some other essential info but just move.

    #693740 Reply

    Does one of your roommates own the place or are you all renting? If it’s the latter, I’m sure this probably violates the lease. Though I’m not sure getting someone’s mom forced out would really make your environment much better.

    Your options are her moving out or you. Since the former is unlikely, you probably need to move. Can you find other roommates that would keep your rent low? I guess if living with your parents is your only option and it’s truly worse, then save up money so you can move as soon as possible.

    #693742 Reply

    I’m assuming there’s no lease, and no landlord? Then you really don’t have any options except to move out. Crazy Mom isn’t going to leave, and the guys aren’t going to throw her out. She’s family.

    It’s time to think of other people you can crash with for awhile, until you find a more permanent living situation. Back at the town where you were going to college, maybe? There are always people looking for roommates in college towns. There are lots of colleges in and around Miami, you might even find a “roommate wanted” situation there, if you like the city.

    I know you moved in with these guys because you needed to get out of a bad situation, so you didn’t have a lot of choices. And I get that your finances don’t let you be real choosy, either. But aim for a situation where there’s a proper lease. That gives you the protections you don’t have in your current situation. There are laws that landlords have to abide by, and leases set up rules that keep messes like the one you’re in now from happening, and give you some legal rights if they do. Right now you’re living at the whims of these people, and it’s just not safe for you there.

    Good luck with finding someplace else to live that’s pleasanter and safer and more stable. 🙂

    #693749 Reply

    Untill you are able to move out, get a dooknob that locks with an actual key for your room. Since it’s a rental, keep the old one and put it back on when you move out.

    Other thoughts – elder or not, you don’t have to tolerate anyone treating you like this. You do not need to “obey” her even if she asks nicely. Don’t ever go to the store for her unless she gives you the money up front. Dump her coffee grounds in the garbage (or a zip lock bag if you can’t bring yourself to toss it) and put your cookie jar in your locked room. Feel free to do the same with your tv.

    Also, maybe record one (or more) of her tantrums on your phone. Especially if you ever again agree to let her borrow something so you have a record of the of the agreement since she probably won’t sign a written agreement.

    #693771 Reply

    I also couldn’t finish reading this, it’s way too long. I got about halfway. Yeah, your choices are you get her kicked out or you leave. Have you tried sitting down with your other 2 roommates without her and laying out that one of those 2 things needs to happen, and asking them which they prefer? Either way, if you’re renting from a third party you need to read your lease carefully and talk to the landlord. There could be penalties for leaving, and you want to get those waived if at all possible because an unauthorized fourth person has moved in and made the living situation unbearable.

    You also need to get a lock on your door ASAP. Seriously. Keep the original doorknob to put back and get a key locking knob until you move out. Do you have a friend living elsewhere who would be able/willing to hold a few boxes of your valuable stuff until you get a new place/ this woman leaves? Can you get a safe to keep things in in your room as well? Also keep a written log with dates and times of when you have issues, what was said, what was stolen, etc. You may need that to give to the landlord or your roommate as an accounting of everything that needs to be given back or paid to be replaced before you leave.

    #693773 Reply

    She knows she is mentally ill and wants to be with just family, because she is afraid you will report her and she will be involuntarily committed. Her family is sort of caring for her and giving her a place to stay. You have no part in this and it will only get worse until your roomies have no choice but to have her committed for a psych eval. You are in danger and need to move out pronto. No point talking to the roomies until you are loading up to leave, that can only lead to conflict. They know they have put you in an impossible situation. MOA as fast as is humanly possible. Sleep at a friends place until you find a place. Sleep in a shelter, if need be.

    #693774 Reply

    Also i agree with Redessa. There is no need or reason to obey her or engage with her in the meantime until one of you leaves. If she demands you go to the store, buy her things, whatever, answer with a cheerful “no, sorry. I can’t do that right now”, “oh I’m sorry, until you pay me back for the other items I’ve bought for you i can’t afford to pick up any more things for you”, or a simple “no I can’t let you do that/borrow this/ take that/ go there/ come in right now/ whatever. Maybe another time!”. Repeat ad nauseum no matter what her response. If she tantrums let her tantrum. If she “tattles” to her son then let her. If he comes to you with her complaints then remind him of your talk about her moving or you moving and say this is an example of why you are moving out/ you agreed she would leave by X date (whichever you agreed on). Stop engaging. Stay calm, especially in the face of her crazy. Think of her as a unique alien life form you are observing. Keep all items and food that you can under lock and key in your room. Hell, get a lockbox for the fridge too. If she screams or complains or makes accusations, simply say “oh I’m sorry you feel that way” in a neutral tone and walk away.

    #693907 Reply

    Oh my god – you did not have to write paragraph over paragraph over paragraph justifying your position. She stole your stuff. She threatened you. It’s his mother. MOVE OUT. It’s. His. Mother. You’ve known him a year.

    Get a place with other roommates if you don’t want to move back home.

    #693913 Reply

    You need to move out. Move out now, go stay with friends until you have something else lined up.

    I don’t know your financial situation, but sounds like you shouldn’t move home either. Miami is a big city though, I’m sure at the very least you can find a temporary sub-let on Craigslist until you figure something more permanent out.

    #693916 Reply

    Holy crap this woman is batsh*t nuts. There is no suggestion that can be made to make this living situation even remotely tolerable. You cannot reason with this person, she and this whole situation are beyond toxic. Get out of there. NOW. Crash on a friend’s couch if you really have to. Heck, if I were you I’d rather sleep in a box, because just about anything is better than dealing with this insanity for another day.

    #693926 Reply
    Dear Wendy
    Dear Wendy

    I got as far as you sleep with a knife within reach. Honey, it’s time to MOA. Seriously, NONE of the other details matter. You sleep with a knife within reach because you are afraid of someone you live with. Why haven’t you moved out yet? Jesus, MOVE OUT, MOVE OUT, MOVE OUT!!!!!

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