Flatmate attacked me, not sure how to proceed

38 posts in this topic

I have shared a flat with a German guy for the last 10 years. We share the contract, as we took on the lease together (without really knowing each other - totally stupid - but that's another story).

 

For the last couple of years the situation has become very toxic indeed. Right from the start, in fact, I quickly started to find his behaviour controlling and territorial in many small but intimidating ways (for example, he would constantly move things of mine). However, I just let him get away with it for a long time for the sake of peace.

 

One of the main points of contention is that our kitchen adjoins his bedroom, separated only by double glass doors (he took over the former lounge as his room) and he's very sensitive to ANY kind of cooking smell (other than his own). He seems to feel that I should not only open a window wide after preparing food, but also from the moment I START preparing it or am sitting down to eat it, even in the depths of winter. This is obviously very unpleasant when it's totally freezing, and as a result I use the kitchen as little as possible. More on this later.

 

He also started to increasingly accuse me of being a slob, etc, and of cluttering the place even though his own habits were demonstrably far from perfect: boxes of his stuff all over the kitchen, tools stashed on the floor; very little cleaning at any point, and snot often left in the shower tub because he blows his nose when showering. Unfortunately I never thought to take photos of this.

 

There were further disputes about taking down the trash, and using the dishwasher 'fairly'.

 

After years of saying nothing, about two years ago I started to retaliate. Brought up the fact that I often found snot in the bath. Questioned him about constantly moving things of mine to a new location. One day, when he was sitting in the kitchen with a girlfriend and asked me to close the door to my provisions cupboard as I was preparing a meal, I told him that I had left it open as I knew I wanted to use it it again, and asked him why it aggravated him so much to see it ajar; he replied that he found the aesthetics of the open cupboard 'messy' and disturbing.

 

In the end this came to a head in late 2020 when he burst into my room, hysterical (LITERALLY burst in by flinging the door open), grabbed me by the throat and hurled abuse at me for my 'slobbish' habits. He's a really big guy and I'm relatively small, so it was worrying. He was extremely aggressive and told me that I was driving him insane with my 'filthy' behaviour. 

 

The next day, I sent him an email in which I basically let rip. I told him that he was so consumed with his perception of me and my 'mess' that he was incapable of seeing his own. I mentioned the fact that every corner of the kitchen was filled with bits of timber and plastic bags containing his junk; etc etc. I told him that I had had the sense for years that he was treating the space as his, and me as a kind of tenant, whereas the contract was in my name, too. And as a final point, told him I would not accept someone smashing their way into my room and screaming at me.

 

Surprisingly, he responded quite reasonably. He's a freelance conflict coach (!) and suggested we sit down and try to sort it out. I agreed.

We came up with a plan of some kind.

 

This has become a very long post, and I'll now try to cut it short. Probably a few weeks after our talk, I was cooking breakfast (including bacon) in the kitchen with a friend. It was January, minus temperatures outside, and I didn't have the window open while cooking, or as we sat down to eat, although of course I intended to open it afterwards.

 

Flatmate flung open his bedroom door and started screaming at me hysterically, accusing me of being a total slob and stinking up his room with my 'disgusting grease'. He was completely beside himself, and the friend of mine in question was totally shocked. 

 

(For context, the flatmate has quite often had girlfriends or women here in the flat, and on no occasion when preparing food together or eating together with his own guests has he opened a window).

 

I decided that I had had enough, that there was no point trying to communicate with him further and that I would simply avoid him as much as possible.

 

Forward to a couple of days ago. I had been roasting vegetables in the oven. My flatmate was out at the time, and I didn't open the window because it was freezing cold, I thought I'd just open it later. I heard him come in, and wrench the window open. 

 

Half an hour later, he again bursts into my room, this time completely out of control. He grabs me by the hair and drags me into the kitchen, screaming that I shit on everything I touch and that everything in the flat is covered in my shit.

 

I broke away, moved towards the front door for safety, then called the police. They came, questioned both of us briefly, told me that my flat mate had admitted that he had 'over-reacted' and asked me if I wanted to press charges. I declined.

 

I realise the next day that he had pulled out clumps of hair, and that I have big bruises on my arm and lacerations on my legs. Nothing major, but injuries all the same. I inform friends, just in case anything further happens. One of them tells me to go to a hospital, and have the injuries documented as a report, which I do.

 

I see the flatmate in the kitchen and, despite feeling nervous, tell him that if he ever touches or threatens me again he will end up in court, and that I have informed others in case anything worse happens. I say to him that if he finds my presence so toxic that he is reacting now by physically assaulting me, perhaps he should take steps to prevent himself ending up in really serious trouble. 

 

Perhaps that was not ideal timing, but I felt I had to say it just to try to protect myself and make it clear that I wasn't going to let him bully me.

 

I sensed that he was again getting aggressive. He accused me of playing power games with him, and told me that I was sick in the head. He once again stated that everything in the flat was shitty because of me. He tried to goad me  - 'you see what you're doing; I can see what you're doing'.  He told me that a judge in court would sympathise with the fact that he had simply retaliated against my provocations.

 

I left the flat.

 

Some of my friends told me that I should definitely file an Anzeige. Others told me that, if I was afraid for my own safety (which of course I am - I don't even have a lock on my door) legal steps could be taken to remove him from the flat. Some were not convinced: said that this could take time or may not succeed, and could provoke him further.

 

In any case I have absolutely no idea EXACTLY what would happen if I did go ahead with filing a charge.  If I knew that there was more or less a guarantee that he could be legally compelled to move from the property, I think I would go ahead (although would still be nervous in case he decided to wage some kind of vendetta).

 

Obviously the 'best' solution is to move out myself, but I've made a few attempts over the last year to find somewhere else to no real avail, and also feel really strongly that I shouldn't have to go through that if there's any other way to ensure that I can be safe.

 

 

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Why did'nt you just switch bedrooms 10 years ago.

I find you slightly annoying just by reading your post.

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35 minutes ago, RAMBO said:

Why did'nt you just switch bedrooms 10 years ago.

I find you slightly annoying just by reading your post.

Because he specifically chose the far larger room himself despite its location next to the kitchen and refused to swap with mine even when it became clear that this was a problem. It seems pretty obvious, too, that he finds me far more 'annoying' than you do. But I'm trying to find out is if anyone has any concrete information as to how/if I can take legal steps to prevent a possible further assault simply because he really doesn't like me very much. 

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Extractor fan needed, and yes, you should open a window. Other suggestion-  re-assess your  meal preps  and ditch the garlic!^_^

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2 hours ago, coeurquibat said:

 But I'm trying to find out is if anyone has any concrete information as to how/if I can take legal steps to prevent a possible further assault simply because he really doesn't like me very much. 

You expect a piece of paper is going to protect you in the heat of the moment?

 

Are you married to him?

Do you own the flat together?

Do you have kids together?

 

Then whats stopping you from just leaving? 

 

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You should file charges (should have already done this in 2020) and what you can also do is go to court and ask for a restraining order against him for your own safety. If granted, it will force him to move. I don't care how annoyed he is, he shouldn't be physically attacking you.

 

We have had a few posts here where roomies are in the situation that one wants to leave and if you are both on the rental agreement as tenants, it can be difficult. You are both equally responsible so if you go to the landlord and ask to be taken off the lease, your landlord may not agree. You would then be in the position of moving out while still being responsible for this apartment that you no longer live in. Same with if he has to move. The landlord may not agree to take him off the lease and he continues to be responsible for the apartment which he is no longer living in.  You may want to consult a lawyer about this mess or the mieterverein.

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This is so beautifully written and a perfect text book case of controlling behaviour it has Sherlock wondering if it is not just click bate to get things moving on TT again (sure as hell needs it).  

I sincerely hope you are not for real.

Leon s advice spot on as usual. 

Dies anything more need to be said ?

Spring just round the corner. 

Friday some days hence.

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I'm so sorry you're going through this.  It sounds like your flatmate is a classic abuser.  I see you're in Berlin, so I imagine finding affordable housing could be difficult.  The first thing I would do is put a lock on your bedroom door (assuming the landlord approves).  Next, you have to press charges next time he lays a finger on you.  Document all injuries and damages inflicted, and be sure to take photos of anything and everything he does that vexes you.  It sounds to me like you've allowed this abuse to go on for much too long, and your flatmate has the idea that he can behave like this.  It's not acceptable, even if you were just a "tenant".    

 

I was actually a little triggered reading your post.  It reminded me of our former landlady who, thankfully never physically threatened or harmed us, but made our lives pretty miserable, nonetheless.  We did end up suing her, and we prevailed, but it was a long and aggravating fight.  I wish you luck in dealing with this situation.  It must be hell. 

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4 hours ago, LeonG said:

You should file charges (should have already done this in 2020) and what you can also do is go to court and ask for a restraining order against him for your own safety. If granted, it will force him to move. I don't care how annoyed he is, he shouldn't be physically attacking you.

 

We have had a few posts here where roomies are in the situation that one wants to leave and if you are both on the rental agreement as tenants, it can be difficult. You are both equally responsible so if you go to the landlord and ask to be taken off the lease, your landlord may not agree. You would then be in the position of moving out while still being responsible for this apartment that you no longer live in. Same with if he has to move. The landlord may not agree to take him off the lease and he continues to be responsible for the apartment which he is no longer living in.  You may want to consult a lawyer about this mess or the mieterverein.

Thank you. I was told by a friend I could ask for a restraining order, but there's obviously no guarantee it would be granted and I'm sure he'd see any attempts of mine to pursue this as highly provocative.  I didn't know about the joint contract thing - bad news, potentially - but I have a feeling the landlord would agree. You're right: these things are never clearcut, and I obviously need to consult a lawyer.

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2 hours ago, knotheadusc said:

I'm so sorry you're going through this.  It sounds like your flatmate is a classic abuser.  I see you're in Berlin, so I imagine finding affordable housing could be difficult.  The first thing I would do is put a lock on your bedroom door (assuming the landlord approves).  Next, you have to press charges next time he lays a finger on you.  Document all injuries and damages inflicted, and be sure to take photos of anything and everything he does that vexes you.  It sounds to me like you've allowed this abuse to go on for much too long, and your flatmate has the idea that he can behave like this.  It's not acceptable, even if you were just a "tenant".    

 

I was actually a little triggered reading your post.  It reminded me of our former landlady who, thankfully never physically threatened or harmed us, but made our lives pretty miserable, nonetheless.  We did end up suing her, and we prevailed, but it was a long and aggravating fight.  I wish you luck in dealing with this situation.  It must be hell. 

Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I should have tried to confront the things I found uncomfortable right from the start, but I had no suspicion that they would escalate so crazily. It was stupid of me.

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6 hours ago, RedMidge said:

Extractor fan needed, and yes, you should open a window. Other suggestion-  re-assess your  meal preps  and ditch the garlic!^_^

We talked about an extractor fan some time ago, and I can't remember the outcome, but I think he said it was not possible to build one in? In any case, that option was shelved, and maybe that should also have been a warning flag. I'll look into it again, but in all honesty I think it has now gone too far. I totally accept what you and others have said - yes, I should open a window and avoid garlic etc to avoid provoking him, but it kind of gets absurd. At this point I think I risk being attacked for cooking fish or a curry or such like. I'm convinced that, from his point of view, the only real option is for me to not use the kitchen at all or boil eggs. He cooks himself from time to time - fries food - but doesn't like the smell of anything I prepare, because it's a smell I 'make'. Yes, at least this conversation clarifies how absurd the whole situation is, and moving out, or finding a way to DEFINITIVELY get him out is the only solution. As others have suggested, I will talk to a lawyer.

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5 hours ago, LeonG said:

You should file charges (should have already done this in 2020) and what you can also do is go to court and ask for a restraining order against him for your own safety. If granted, it will force him to move. I don't care how annoyed he is, he shouldn't be physically attacking you.

 

We have had a few posts here where roomies are in the situation that one wants to leave and if you are both on the rental agreement as tenants, it can be difficult. You are both equally responsible so if you go to the landlord and ask to be taken off the lease, your landlord may not agree. You would then be in the position of moving out while still being responsible for this apartment that you no longer live in. Same with if he has to move. The landlord may not agree to take him off the lease and he continues to be responsible for the apartment which he is no longer living in.  You may want to consult a lawyer about this mess or the mieterverein.

Can anyone suggest a (preferably English-speaking) lawyer who would be able to help with this? Thanks.

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10 hours ago, RAMBO said:

Why did'nt you just switch bedrooms 10 years ago.

I find you slightly annoying just by reading your post.

This

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1 hour ago, coeurquibat said:

Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I should have tried to confront the things I found uncomfortable right from the start, but I had no suspicion that they would escalate so crazily. It was stupid of me.


Please don’t put yourself down.  You are certainly not the first person to try to ignore bad behavior to avoid things from escalating.  My husband and I both did that with our last landlady.  All it did was embolden her and put off the inevitable meltdowns and attempted Kaution extortion.  
 

When it comes down to it, you’re not at fault when someone is being abusive, especially when they put their hands on you.  Instead of berating yourself for what you didn’t do, focus on the future and changing how you will respond now and in the future.  You can’t change the past, but you can change the future.

 

I’m rooting for you.

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3 hours ago, coeurquibat said:

Yes, I should have tried to confront the things I found uncomfortable right from the start, but I had no suspicion that they would escalate so crazily.

 

Many of us are pre-set with a 'live and let live' default setting, and are then horrified by the escalation with those who are more empire-building in their approach. It is not your fault - this situation would have simply occurred earlier.

 

Mieterverein, kind friends, lawyer. Hope it works out for you.

 

You couldn't possibly have known how awful it would get, if you are the kind of person who assumes other people are not bonkers. Sadly, this guy is, and it's not your fault.

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4 hours ago, coeurquibat said:

Thank you. I was told by a friend I could ask for a restraining order, but there's obviously no guarantee it would be granted and I'm sure he'd see any attempts of mine to pursue this as highly provocative.  I didn't know about the joint contract thing - bad news, potentially - but I have a feeling the landlord would agree. You're right: these things are never clearcut, and I obviously need to consult a lawyer.

 

It sounds to me that he views you living there as being highly provocative.  What do you want to do?  Just stay in your room?  If you do, next he might have a problem with you using the bathroom.  You have to do something whether it's moving out or standing your ground.  IMO, do ask the landlord if you can get a lock on your room and report all violence to the police.  Even the police talking to him might help.

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I know it's easy to say it but I would move out asap if there has been physical violence. There is a time for standing your ground but you don't know your flatmate's psychological history. There was a tragic case in Ireland of a guy being murdered by his flatmate - I knew the victim from my university days and it was just a real shock to read the story a few years ago. 

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Oh dear. Seems like you are for real. I am sorry.

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2 hours ago, LeonG said:

 

It sounds to me that he views you living there as being highly provocative.  What do you want to do?  Just stay in your room?  If you do, next he might have a problem with you using the bathroom.  You have to do something whether it's moving out or standing your ground.  IMO, do ask the landlord if you can get a lock on your room and report all violence to the police.  Even the police talking to him might help.

You're absolutely right. I don't want to feel like I can't do anything but stay in my room, but of course that's been happening more and more. However, I also want to stand my ground - partly because finding an alternative, long-term flat will probably be very difficult indeed (not to mention impossible for what I currently pay, but hey). What's more, I just don't want to be bullied out of my living space by a thug - it feels so wrong. However, I equally don't want to end up with a broken arm or worse. I will get a lock for the room as you suggest. I guess I thought there might be an easy solution along the lines of 'if this has happened you can definitely have him removed from the place' or so on. I know that several qualified lawyers/experts sometimes add to the discussions here, but as several people have pointed out, I really need to speak to someone professional. Which is not to say that I don't appreciate all the advice given so far; I really do.

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