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facing up to a bully

(38 Posts)
gracesmum Fri 23-Mar-12 13:33:44

I feel like the lion (?) from the Wizard of Oz - I can't stand up to bullies.I have just had an uncomfortable "conversation" with a neighbour who lives at right angles to our house and whose fence is in poor nick. Granted it was overgrown with ivy which I had not touched as we used to have shrubs in front of it, granted I have painted our side with preservative (brown) since stripping off the ivy last summer granted I did not "ask his permission" so to do.
But there is a thin patch which is turning into a hole and his very aggressive Staffie/Rottweiler (not sure which but scary dog) launches himself at it from time to time which might not be helping. Anyway, I went round to ask in the nicest possible way what neighbour thought about the state of it and got an aggressive and threatening tirade of how I was guilty of "criminal damage" to his fence by allowing the ivy to grow and then painting the fence afterwards, he would fix it in his own good time blah, blah blah!
I remained calm, but was glad we were outside the front of his house, not inside or in the garden, and just said I was sorry he felt that way and walked away. I have now come home and sobbed my heart out because I have been bullied and don't know how to stand up to people like him. I don't want a dispute as I feel he is bloody minded enough to replace the fence with a see through wire one if pushed. I do not feel I am in the wrong (maybe) but I am not used to dealing with such hostility from a man who is over 6' tall and so loud and scary. No witnesses alas, but I wish I had more courage in situations like these. It has also occurred to me that were his dog to break through into our garden I wouldn't give much for Grace's chances or- much worse - the grandsons. We do not live in a "sink" estate in downtown dumpsville, but in a "middle class" village in N. Bucks.Is it too late at 64 to learn how to stand up to a bully?

Anagram Fri 23-Mar-12 13:58:36

I have no advice about standing up to bullies, Gracesmum, as my knees turn to jelly if I am confronted with the likes of your neighbour!

But to be practical, could you erect your own fence, on your side? Do you know if the existing fence is a party fence liable to be maintained by both of you, or does it belong solely to him? I know you don't want to make things worse between you, but if there's a danger to your daughter something needs to be done. Perhaps a phone call to the CAB?

jeni Fri 23-Mar-12 14:06:10

If the dog is aggressive try the police!

petallus Fri 23-Mar-12 14:13:07

Getting the dog taken away/put down would not help gracesmum to stand up to bullying and would probably result in her life being made hell.

I don't think gracesmum should feel bad because she could not stand up to this man. How many of us could?

If he becomes intimidating it might mean bringing in the police.

As for the fence, if I could afford it I would get my own one put up just inside the boundary from his fence.

glammanana Fri 23-Mar-12 14:13:10

gracesmum Bullies !!! can't abide them this man knows he is intimidating you,why did he not mention any problem he had last year when you did the ivy? Its a pity you can't put up a 6ft wall and block him out all together.I do not know the position re party walls but am I right in thinking that you are responsible for fencing to the left as you look down your garden ? If any problems with the dog do not hesitate to call police. so sorry you have been upset flowers brew

numberplease Fri 23-Mar-12 15:08:01

Gracesmum, I know exactly how you feel re bullies, I can`t stand up for myself against them either, one of the reasons I took voluntary redundancy from work years ago, I was being bullied by someone I worked with. I agree re having your own fence, and also re the dog, making him get rid of it would only add to your problems in the long run, as his resentment would just build and build. Hope you find a satisfactory solution.

Annobel Fri 23-Mar-12 15:18:36

Of all the cases clients bring to us at CAB, neighbour ones are the most intractable because so rarely is there any legal redress on either side. It's always fences or trees! That's not much help to you is it, gracesmum? But you don't want to wait until that nasty dog forces an entry into your garden. If you do speak to him again, take someone with you as a witness (preferably large, hefty and male) as you might be able to 'get' him for threatening behaviour, though bringing the police into it would almost certainly exacerbate the situation. You could grow the thorniest shrub you can think of (berberis springs to mind) in front of the hole and the dog would get a nasty shock if it did break through.

Greatnan Fri 23-Mar-12 15:28:00

I am not physically brave but I usually find I have superior language skills to anyone trying to bully me and I can blind them with jargon! You can also try to imagine them naked or using the lavatory - anything that reduces their status. I find it helps to remain very calm and courteous, and just keep stating my case.
Do you not have any large young male relatives who could persuade your neighbour to be reasonable?

Nanban Fri 23-Mar-12 16:10:41

If you are fearful of the dog the person to contact is your local Dog Warden who will have a word with them without letting on you may have said. As for the fence - if you can afford to, perhaps you could offer to have it repaired/go halves etc

As for his bullying - the other people you could try are your Community Beat Officers but that might only inflame the situation and give him something more to shout about.

Take the moral highground - you are a nice person and he is not, your life must be nicer than his and will continue to be, his will not.

shysal Fri 23-Mar-12 16:15:27

It can be difficult to establish the ownership of fences, the rules vary. I think usually the side on which the posts are belongs to you, but checking the house deeds is the only way. I find being on polite terms with neighbours is always preferable, so you did the right thing and kept your dignity.
Obviously barricading the weak bit of fence is a priority. Garden centres sell rolls of brushwood or bamboo which are a cheap way of covering gaps.
I hope things die down and that you can exist in peace in the future.

Sook Fri 23-Mar-12 17:57:44

gracesmum As if you don't have enought to put up with at the moment. I have found the CAB very helpful in the past as we had an issue with a neighbour over a tree on his land which was uprooting our patio and neighbour wasn't willing to have it felled.

Why too should you have to worry that your grandsons and Grace are under threat from a vicious dog.

If he had an issue with you growing ivy up the fence then removing it before painting the fence he should have spoken to you then.

I would agree with shysal re the bamboo or brushwood as a temporay measure.

Most of all try not to let him upset you his kind just aren't worth it.

Mishap Fri 23-Mar-12 18:05:42

Oh, how I hate confrontation! - even with reasonable people, let alone this bully. So sorry you have this problem - not getting on with a neighbour is a real thorn in the side.
Well done for walking calmly away _ I don't blame you for the sobbing - I would have done exactly the same thing!
If you are really concerned about the GC's safety from the dog, you could put up something on your side and on your land that would ensure that the dog could not get through - or is the garden really tiny? Better to appear to lose a small strip of land than have the GC mauled.
Why do people keep these vicious dogs? It's really grim.

Carol Fri 23-Mar-12 18:16:43

I'm so sorry you have been treated like that Gracesmum. There is probably no reasoning to be done with this nasty piece of work, so why not repair it from your side and, as suggested, plant thorny bushes in front of it to prevent any invasion from the dog.

They say you should stand up to bullies - you did what you needed to do and got home safely before the impact hit you, and I can understand why you needed to release that tension with a good weep - I would have felt like doing that, too.

Hate bullies!

jeni Fri 23-Mar-12 18:20:10

I don't like confrontation either. I'll go a mile to avoid it! The exception is the grumpy old git next door! grin

wotsamashedupjingl Fri 23-Mar-12 19:35:00

I think patronising works well. You say something like "Oh, I didn't mean to upset you. Oh please calm down, you're going to make yourself ill", whilst looking genuinely worried and concerned for them.

I suppose it's a version of 'kind words turning away anger'. (but you're not really being kind, just taking the wind out of their sails).

I have a devious mind.

nanachrissy Fri 23-Mar-12 19:48:08

I like your thinking Jings. grin

FlicketyB Fri 23-Mar-12 19:49:53

Gracesmum, you did not give way to bullying, you behaved sensibly and strategically in a position where you were at a disadvantage. Indeed you held the high moral ground because what the man you faced wanted was for you to either get angry and shout, and then he would shout louder until you backed away unable to be as loud and as unpleasant as he so he knew he had won or he wanted you to break down in tears, yet again giving him victory, by doing neither, you did, as I have said hold the moral high ground. Keep doing that and as other people have suggested put a fence up on your own side.
A roll of chain link fence and enough stakes to attach it to shouldnt cost more than about £50, unless you have a very big garden then get a couple of beefy friends with large mallets to come and hammer the posts in for you and afix the fence with wire ties.

glassortwo Fri 23-Mar-12 19:58:33

grace he is weak individual to bully you [mad] I think shysal is right I am sure if the posts are on your side its your responsibility.

You could put some bamboo up over the hole then plant a berbiris or two and if the dog manages to break through his nose will come into contact with the thorns.

johanna Fri 23-Mar-12 19:58:57

No, wotsa, patronising does not work with bullies. It only antagonizes them.
" I did not mean to upset you," will go nowhere.This is empowerment to them.
Best thing for Grace to do , as posters above have said, put up a new fence within her own boundaries, or approach neighbour to suggest sharing cost of replacement.
If it were me I would go for the first option.

glassortwo Fri 23-Mar-12 19:59:41

angry not mad

wotsamashedupjingl Fri 23-Mar-12 20:11:11

It was advice on dealing with bullies that Gracesmum asked for. Not fence maintenance.

My suggestion worked for me the one time I needed it.

gracesmum Fri 23-Mar-12 20:11:53

Thanks all - I feel better now and even more so after talking to another neighbour who has told me how this man has made 2 other couples' lives a misery - or attempted to. In one case the other couple involved the police and he has an injunction against him! The fence is his and his contention is that I am guilty of "criminal damage" if I so much as put a nail in it, let alone treat it with preservative as I did last year. We have taken out a lot of shrubs and planted a herbaceous border so the fence is very visible to us but I saw this afternoon that he has moved his wire garden rubbish bin to the "hole" so at least his dog can't get at it. I have also been told it is just best to keep out of his way as he is a known troublemaker and physically intimidating as well as a shouter. 2 winters ago he apparently rang up the council and "reported" people he saw taking salt/grit from the bin on the corner of the road, accusing them of taking it for their own use. I took a wheelbarrowful so I hope he reported me as I then used it on the road from where it comes off the main road, round the corner past at least 10 houses and as far as ours. I though it was very public-spirited of me! Apparently I also did the right thing by walking away as he never backs down.

jeni Fri 23-Mar-12 20:25:46


Carol Fri 23-Mar-12 20:50:04

gracesmum you are magnificent! You have kept your integrity and learned that this man is a local trouble-maker, so you did the right thing to come away and think about how to solve the problem without having to deal with him again. He might not back down but he has realised he is on a sticky wicket if his dog gets through and causes any harm, so you've ensured he has done something about it, albeit temporarily.

I paid for the fence between me and next door, but they can do what they like with their sde - paint it sky blue pink with yellow borders - it faces their garden, so they have to live with it. You have to do what you can with your side of that fence, and if he doesn't want to put a new one in, you are perfectly entitled to make repairs and disguise the mess.

It's all about reasonableness - what would 'the man on the Clapham omnibus' do? What a nuisance to have someone like that living nearby. I hope you don't need to have any more dealings with him.

nelliedeane Fri 23-Mar-12 20:57:31

gracesmumflowers dont like bullies or confrontation eitherxx