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Being bullied and how to respond

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  • #423712
    DC
    Participant

    I am wondering if you could give me some advice.  I don’t reside in the USA so the laws are slightly different. (To retain anonymity, some of the details and names outlined below are changed slightly in this forum)

    We have a building administrative manager within a complex of just 4 units. The other units are dominated by a family – father, mother, daughter and son. So, the family controls the building administrative manager although, by law, they and paticularly the builidng manager are supposed to act fairly and equitably across all owners and residents.

    Over the years, being a minority of one, I have always been bullied by the family. They do this directly and via the building manager.

    I don’t cower down to bullies and in the past, have taken them to the tribunal for their actions and won.

    Recently we have this new building manager and again she attempts to bully –  either on instructions from the family or in an attempt to align herself with the family.  This building manager, call her Bella, asked for her contractor to go up to my unit because of a leak to a family unit below. I allowed her contractor to my unit and did not think more than that. Three weeks later, Bella give me a bill for $2,500 and said that I urgently need to pay the bill. No forewarning, nothing.

    I checked with the regulator and it is against the law for her to interfere with my private property, without my consent. I communicated this to Bella and she has gone all quiet. I think she realises now that she may have got things wrong and her bullying has backfired.

    I can always file a formal complaint against Bella and the regulator will investigate. This will be a mark against her.

    Question is this – should I? If I did that, I would put her offside even more. However if I did not do that, she may carry on bullying.  I would therefore appreciate any advice.

    Thank you for in anticipation.

    #423734
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DC:

    “This building manager, call her Bella, asked for her contractor to go up to my unit because of a leak to a family unit below. I allowed her contractor to my unit and did not think more than that. Three weeks later, Bella give me a bill for $2,500 and said that I urgently need to pay the bill. No forewarning, nothing. I checked with the regulator and it is against the law for her to interfere with my private property, without my consent”-

    – If there was a leak from your unit to an apartment below, I suppose the leak should have been fixed. Is the bullying you are referring to about (1) the contractor entering your apartment so to fix the leak, or (2) Bella presenting you with the bill?

    anita

    #423779
    DC
    Participant

    Hi Anita – thank you for this! Bella represented to me that her contractor would investigate and report! Instead, the plumber apparently, from the invoice, proceeded to fix it without checking with me first. I therefore could not get my own plumber to deal with it at a lower cost. Further it may not be what they say it is. It’s also against the law to just go into someone else’s property and then proceed to fix whatever you think is wrong with it. There could be corresponding damage.  To do that, then present me with a bill for all the investigation and plumbing costs is just wrong and utterly disrespectful. She has done that because she feels protected by “the family”.  She would not have done that to a family member.

    #423787
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DC:

    In your original post you wrote that you checked with the regulator and verified that indeed it is against the law for her to do what she did. In your 2nd post, you wrote: “It’s also against the law to just go into someone else’s property and then proceed to fix whatever you think is wrong with it… She has done that because she feels protected by ‘the family’.  She would not have done that to a family member“.

    In your original post you asked: “I can always file a formal complaint against Bella and the regulator will investigate. This will be a mark against her. Question is this – should I? If I did that, I would put her offside even more. However if I did not do that, she may carry on bullying.  I would therefore appreciate any advice“-

    – Based on my limited understanding, what I’d do if I was in your shoes, would be three things: (1) Do not pay the unlawful bill she presented to you, (2) File a formal complaint against her, (3) Move out…

    Unless she apologizes, offers to take care of the bill herself, and corrects any and all unlawful practices against you.

    anita

    #423831
    DC
    Participant

    Thank you v much again Anita for your kind advice. Appreciate it and hope you have a good week ahead!

    Cheers!

    #423840
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DC:

    You are welcome and I hope that you have a good week ahead!

    Before I answered your original post in your current thread five days ago, I noticed that we communicated in the 4 pages (Aug 31- Nov 13, 2021) of your first thread Letting go of injustice, but I didn’t re-read it until this morning. I will be doing so this morning.

    In your first thread, you shared that you were a member of Strata Committee (SC) which made decisions for the 45 owners who lived in a block of townhouses where you were one of the tenants, and the Treasurer of the SC “has been paying for certain repairs for his own unit without the permission of the SC”.

    I am often the ‘unwelcome’ voice which calls out on such unethical behaviour. Most SC members would not call out such behaviour for fear of retribution… I find it hard to be involved and not blow the whistle on such unethical behaviour…I simply cannot ‘unsee’ things that I see…I continually go out of my way to see that perpetrators do not get away with misdeeds“, you wrote back then.

    As I often ask members, I asked you too about your childhood, and you shared that your father died when you were five, and your mother had an affair with a married man who “tortured and abused.. physically and emotionally” you (and your siblings) until your late teens.

    You shared this about your mother: “We were parented by a single mother, whom I came to realise is a narcissistic and toxic person. She has little capacity for empathy, is self centred, controlling, critical, etc. If you read about the traits of a narcissistic mother, she has all of them. To this day, each time I contact her (we don’t live in the same country), she would never ask about how I am doing but instead, focus on what she wants from me – in a very ungrateful and demanding way. It is very clear that it is all about her.  It is my culture to respect eldersI find myself wrestling with a dislike for her as a toxic person/parent, but a deep care for her because she is my mother“.

    On Sept 2, 2021, I wrote to you: ” I want to jump straight into what I’ll call The Core Injustice: the biggest and earliest Injustice that you experienced… I know that it is in your culture to respect parents (and) elders. Thing is, culture does not make an exception for very abusive parents or elders. Without such exception, culture teaches to respect abuse…. What kind of justice is it when a woman is allowed to hurt her children badly for years.. and she get away with it, no one holding her accountable as she keeps abusing them into adulthood: no apologies, no regrets.. no guilt, no justice… Your mother used and still uses her position of power to abuse you and her other two adult children. It is society and culture that give her this position of power to keep for the duration of her life, turning the other way when she uses her position of power against her children…  It is society and culture that instill in children this Guilt, a terrible pain of being a bad-boy (or a bad-girl) if you act to correct the injustice of parental abuse…  saying: well, look at your mother.. she is elderly now, harmless.. about to die.. don’t upset her now, take the non-physical abuse (as she is too weak being elderly.. to hit you herself or to have an affair with a man who will) for just a little bit longer.. okay? Good boy!”.

    Your response on the same day: “Your insights have enabled me to again revisit my childhood, and realise that maybe my preoccupation with justice, albeit a little trivial,  stems from what happened during my childhood – and to put in your words, perhaps my attempt to right the ‘core injustice’ that happened to me and my siblings all those years ago. Perhaps within me is an anger – a burning flame – that has never been extinguished“, and you asked: “to heal and move forward, would the way be to accept that all of us are flawed (including my mother), and then let go?“.

    I answered: “True: all of us are flawed.. but some people go out of their way to be repeatedly abusive, month after month, year after year, no regrets, no efforts to correct. There needs to be a distinction between being flawed and being abusive. To heal and move forward, do let go after you no longer avail yourself to your mother’s abuse… Many adult children of abusive parents, wanting to heal, insist (because of Guilt) on keeping contact with the abusive parents, figuring they can find a way to not be affected by the ongoing abuse.. it doesn’t work”.

    In your reply, you agreed with what I said but added: “I find it next to impossible to go no-contact with my mum. Sorry to disappoint. Instead, I think that I will write her messages to show that I still love her. She needs the assurances as she is now frail and elderly – and has health issues… Perhaps she does love me in her own selfish way. Or perhaps I really want to believe that. While there are tiny moments of love or kindness towards me, they are largely swamped by her abuse…. She is like that, perhaps because of her own childhood and biology. I don’t know that it is her fault“.

    In your next post, you wrote: “You have this gift of clarity and getting to the guts of things.  I really like that! (I copied and pasted this just now because it makes me feel good to read it). It is true that she could abuse us when we were kids as no one held her accountable. We were little and utterly vulnerable. No way to defend ourselves. Therefore easy for her to exploit within the walls of our house. Cane marks were hidden and I used to go to school with Elastoplast in several parts of my arms to hide those bruises. She hit us to vent her anger – not to help us be better humans. Perhaps she did not understand how else to release her own frustration“.

    On Sept 5, you asked me: “Why do you do this Anita? Why do you go into these forums and put in so much effort, time to help people like me? You are also unrelenting and unwavering in your support. Most people would give up.  I am curious as there are very few gracious people like you on this planet” (Again, makes me feel good to read this).

    My answer the next day: “Because to me, on the other side of my computer screen, I can almost see you: you are a real person, flesh and blood, thinking, feeling.. just like me. I know how you feel when you feel hope or sadness..  pain. You are just like me, so when I am helping you- I am helping myself, no difference. In yet other words: you are important, there is no person in the world who is more important than you. You matter, your experience of life matters no less than mine. You are therefore worthy of my effort and time”

    On Nov 13, you posted an update on the issue you presented in your original post 2.5 months earlier: “Managed to deal with the committee issue and exposed the dishonest behaviour within it at a general meeting of all owners. As a consequence, the treasurer resigned, which is an excellent outcome.  I have decided to relocate as it is not worth my while to be engaged in such toxicity.  I am sure that this is merely a short-term reprieve and there will be further undesirable incidents later down the track“.

    And as you predicted back then, there is currently a “further undesirable incident” about which you posted 5 days ago in your second thread (the current).

    My input today: (1) It is interesting that on both threads, I assumed that you are a man, and sometime along each thread, I was surprised to find out that you are a woman. I think that two of the reasons I did not even consider that you are a woman are that a– I assumed (wrongly) that your courage to fight-and-right-wrongs indicated that you are a man, a gender stereotype that I need to correct, and b–  because you were so kind and gracious to me in both threads, I assumed that you were a man.. Because of my personal experience, I learned to expect aggression from the female gender.

    (2) Injustice in the world is massive in magnitude, mind boggling.. almost unbelievable in extent, the extremes of it. Abuse of children and of adults is about the Abuse Of Power: political leaders/ people in the position of financial power abuse the power they have over millions and billions of people.., and parents in countless homes abuse the power they have over their children, and society/ culture at large.. allows it.

    If you’d like, we can talk more about any or all of this…?

    anita

    #423841
    Roberta
    Participant

    Dear DC

    Putting aside the assumption of bullying because of previous track record.

    There was a leak of water from your flat into the flat below.

    Do you in principle  think it reasonable for this repair to be done quickly to prevent more damage to the flats no matter who occupies them?

    An equitable solution could be is find out what your plumbers hourly rate is compared to the managers plumber and also check to see if the materials used was charged to you at a fair price. Then present these figures to Bella if there is a difference and pay that amount you have calculated if you had used your own plumber if you are liable for the leak.

    Kind regards

    Roberta

    #423894
    DC
    Participant

    Thank you Roberta for looking at the situation from that perspective. It is something that I did give heed to – except that the building manager could have phoned or asked me before going ahead with it. My view is that she was trying to satisfy the family, and disrespected me by just pushing ahead without even asking me. It is not that difficult to just ask – I have a phone, she has my number. But I do appreciate your different perspective Roberta. Thank you again.

    #423895
    DC
    Participant

    Dear Anita – Thank you again. And again for following up. My mother has just passed away – she died in June after fighting cancer for about a year. She was a fraction of herself – very thin, utterly helpless. I felt sad to see her that way.  As they say, nothing is permanent. Death is grounding for all of us.

    On your experience with the female gender, I feel disturbed by that. At the end of the day, it is their loss!

    I find you to be a very helpful, kind and gracious person who provides very direct and honest advice. I just want to let you know that I truly appreciate you, and all the kind advice that you have provided people on this site. It showcases the overwhelming good heart you have Anita!

    Kind rgds

    DC

    #424412
    anita
    Participant

    Dear DC:

    You are again welcome and thank you for your empathy, kindness and grace. The ways you’ve express your kindness and grace in 2021 and currently, are evidence to me that you have a lot of experience being as kind and gracious as you are.

    Oct 31, 2023: “My mother has just passed away – she died in June after fighting cancer for about a year. She was a fraction of herself – very thin, utterly helpless. I felt sad to see her that way”-

    Back in Sept 2021, you wrote on the topic of unethical behavior in regard to the Strata Committee (SC) and in general: “I am often the ‘unwelcome’ voice which calls out on such unethical behaviour. Most SC members would not call out such behaviour for fear of retribution… I find it hard to be involved and not blow the whistle on such unethical behaviour… I simply cannot ‘unsee’ things that I seeI continually go out of my way to see that perpetrators do not get away with misdeeds“.

    You shared back then about the major perpetrator in your personal life: your mother, “a narcissistic and toxic person. She has little capacity for empathy, is self centred, controlling, critical, etc… very ungrateful and demanding… it is all about her“, and that when you were 5 and all the way to your late teens, she had an affair with a married man who “tortured and abused.. physically and emotionally” you and your siblings. “When we were kids.. no one held her accountable. We were little and utterly vulnerable. No way to defend ourselves. Therefore easy for her to exploit within the walls of our house. Cane marks were hidden… She hit us to vent her anger“.

    Why am I repeating this.. is it disrespectful of the dead? Should I not close the topic with the standard I-am-sorry-for-your-loss and let it go?

    My answer (to my own question): NO. Because what you wrote about yourself back in Sept 2021 is true to me too: “I simply cannot ‘unsee’ things that I seeI continually go out of my way to see that perpetrators do not get away with misdeeds“.

    The great majority of abusive parents all over the world get away with their misdeeds when they are young (the excuse, paraphrased: they didn’t live long enough to.. be held accountable), when they are old (the excuse: they lived too long to be held accountable) and when they are dead (…the dead are not to be held accountable and if we hold them accountable, we are judged as rude, petty and .. bad people), and so, many millions of abusive parents, generation after generation, are never held accountable.

    It is my culture to respect elders, so all my siblings just give in to her whims and wishes. She is getting older now, and those demands are increasing” (Sept 2021)

    It is our world culture to respect (to not resist, to not condemn, but to excuse and to tolerate) abuse by parents. And in turn, too often, abused children become abusive parents, or we become parents who are blind to our children’s emotional experiences, and in so, passing abuse to the next generation, and to the next.

    “Maybe my preoccupation with justice, albeit a little trivial,  stems from what happened during my childhood… perhaps my attempt to right the ‘core injustice’ that happened to me and my siblings all those years ago. Perhaps within me is an anger – a burning flame – that has never been extinguished” (Sept 2021)-

    – May the burning flame in you continue to be about righting wrongs. Notice about anger: your mother hit you and your siblings to vent her anger (“She hit us to vent her anger”). This is where her anger went: to do what’s wrong and unjust. Your anger goes to righting wrongs, to promote justice.

    My mother used to hit me too, during my first decade of life, my second, and then.. my third. I was 20 something when (I remember) her running toward me. She was only a few steps away.. but she needed to run to me. It was passion in her heart that made her run those few steps.. but it wasn’t passion to hold me gently, to take me in her arms and tell me she loves me, that she is there for me.. No, it was her passion to cause me physical pain and as quickly as possible.

    I reacted that time in a way I never did before: instead of cowering, I held my arms straight in front of me and as she reached me, I grabbed her hands in mine, so she wasn’t able to use her hands to hit me.

    Next, I stood there and she stood there, no one moving (I extended just enough force to counter hers), and then.. she withdrew, quietly. That’s all. Nothing happened. And I was livid, thinking: this is ALL it took all these years, for me to not be hit..? Why, I should have done this years ago!

    In my mind, all those years, I thought of her as Strong and Courageous, someone who will not back away with the slightest, real-life resistance. All those years.. I gave in to a coward.

    And this is my point about abusive parents: most if not all, abuse their children- into their children’s adult years (in one way or another)- because they easily get away with it.. no real resistance, not from their children (who love them nonetheless), and not from other adults, neighbors, etc.

    I haven’t been in contact with my mother for ten years. I imagine she is dying, or soon. And I love her so much. I always loved her. All through my life, I would have given anything.. everything to make her happy. I would have easily given away my life to make her life worthwhile. And in some major ways, I did (But all in vain).

    When I used to feel any kind of love for her, I used to also feel confused; I needed to feel anger at her, not love, so to protect myself from her, so to not resume contact with her. Fast forward, I can feel love for her without the confusion, without getting scared about the possibility of resuming contact with her. (1) My responsibility, my duty is to the child that I was, the child that I still am.. to be the one whose passion is not to cause her pain, but to hold her in my arms, love her and protect her. (2) The love I feel for my mother, an early-life, natural, instinctual love of a young child to her mother.. that love was never an indication of who my mother was as a person, but an indication of nature: an automatic love every mammal feels for their mother. (3) The love I always felt for her was an unrequited love. It was not returned. I only imagined there was love in her heart for me because I needed there to be love for me.

    Back to what you wrote yesterday: “As they say, nothing is permanent. Death is grounding for all of us“- let us not die before we do what we can do, in any possible way, to hold our parents (young, old or dead) accountable for the real abuse that they perpetrated against us, so that we can open our eyes to what really, truly constitutes abuse in our current lives and in the world at large, and then- right those wrongs, in any way that’s possible for us.

    anita

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