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I suspect my downstairs neighbor is being abused by her partner

CalicaCalica Registered User regular
edited November 7 in Help / Advice Forum
Around 2 months ago, I moved into a new apartment that is the top floor of a duplex. I've lived in apartment buildings before, but this is my first experience sharing a building with just one other unit. The ground level is occupied by a couple of 30-somethings - I'll call them Frank and Nancy - and their cats.

I don't intentionally eavesdrop, but the building isn't soundproofed and I hear things: their cats scampering around at night, their TV during particularly loud scenes, loud laughter and conversation if they have friends over. None of that is obnoxious, and none of it bothers me. But sometimes I hear Frank shouting at Nancy in what is clearly an angry tone of voice. Today, in a moment when I happened to not be making much noise myself, I heard what sounded like Frank angrily berating Nancy for something, followed by a loud impact, as if he'd slammed his hand down on a table or something similar.

I have good hearing and I know the difference between anger and abuse.

I've met both of them; they're both friendly in person. Nancy and I exchanged cell phone numbers because for several weeks the three of us had to coordinate parking in the driveway so no one would be parked in when they needed to leave. I don't have any contact information for Frank.

I am concerned for Nancy's safety, of course - but also for mine. If Frank is indeed violent, I'm not thrilled to be living in the same building as him. I was abused by a college boyfriend, and what I heard today reminded me vividly of that. I don't want to run into Frank. I don't really think I'm in danger from him, but I don't want to encounter him all the same.

I don't know what, if anything, I should do. I'm not going to call the police because 1) I have nothing but my suspicions, and 2) I don't want to endanger Nancy. Obviously I'm not going to talk to Frank, for the same reasons. I could contact Nancy when I know she's at work (and thus away from Frank) and voice my concerns, but I don't know what that would accomplish other than potentially getting myself involved in a dangerous situation.

I don't want to move out. For one thing, it's entirely possible that I'm wrong about what I'm overhearing. For another, I signed a 2-year lease, and I have no idea how the landlord would respond to "I think one of the other tenants might be violent and I want out."

Jedoc wrote: »
The GOP cares about babies until they're born, soldiers until they're in need of care, and families until they interfere with stockholder dividends.
Calica on

Posts

  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    You can make a noise complaint to the police non-emergency line, and when you do also mention that it sounded violent. A noise complaint is an easy excuse for the cops showing up regardless of what's going on. Other than that, maybe talk to the landlord. You know that specific person better than us, if you think they're the type to actually follow up on that, they're in a better position to do anything about it.

    There no need to directly insert yourself into the situation. I wouldn't contact Nancy, if only because it could make things worse. The loud noises could just be doors slamming or things being tossed around, but it's alarming none the less. You can mention you heard screaming and loud thuds when you call. The cops and the landlord probably have dealt with this more than once before, and that would probably be the extent of what you can do.

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  • CalicaCalica Registered User regular
    I don't know the landlord very well. I also don't want to call in a noise complaint when I'm the only person it could reasonably have been.

    Jedoc wrote: »
    The GOP cares about babies until they're born, soldiers until they're in need of care, and families until they interfere with stockholder dividends.
    Jebus314
  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    edited November 7
    It doesn't matter who called, and if they tried to confront you just remove yourself from the situation and call the cops again. If the response to having the cops called on them is to threaten you, that's illegal too. But you can also just.. do nothing too. Anyone can contact the police anonymously, and have them do a wellness check, not just you. Have a friend do it when you aren't home, and then you have an out if they do confront you, since it actually wasn't you.

    Landlords usually include noise level limits in the lease, so even if the landlord doesn't care they can still enforce it if need be. The landlord is probably around the property enough to catch it happening sometime too.

    Other than actually contacting those folks, the best you could do would be write down abuse hotlines and hand it to Nancy discreetly. That's all I can think of, really.

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  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    edited November 7
    You can make a noise complaint to the police non-emergency line, and when you do also mention that it sounded violent. A noise complaint is an easy excuse for the cops showing up regardless of what's going on. Other than that, maybe talk to the landlord. You know that specific person better than us, if you think they're the type to actually follow up on that, they're in a better position to do anything about it.

    There no need to directly insert yourself into the situation. I wouldn't contact Nancy, if only because it could make things worse. The loud noises could just be doors slamming or things being tossed around, but it's alarming none the less. You can mention you heard screaming and loud thuds when you call. The cops and the landlord probably have dealt with this more than once before, and that would probably be the extent of what you can do.
    You can call 911 for that.

    "Hey there is a lot of noise going on in apartment 102, can you send a squad car to make sure everyone is ok?"
    That is a perfectly valid 911 call. Because someone could be hurt, not even from abuse, if you trip and fall through a door, it makes a racket, and hurts like hell.

    Non emergency is like hey I was on road 30 and the street sign is coming loose, can you have someone from streets reatach it before it falls into the roadway?

    zepherin on
  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    I've called in noise complaints via non-emergency before, but you're right if it sounds violent you can call emergency lines

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  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited November 7
    It feels a little cold and terrible to not get involved, buts it is totally reasonable to understand that there are a number of risks to be the person who this guy knows where you live, your name, potentially your phone number if hes controlling enough to take her phone away. You also know that they occasionally have friends over and that she goes to work, so you aren't her only resource in the world.

    I would keep track of the things you heard somewhere and maybe use that as a personal measure. Are you hearing something violent every other day and its getting more intense? That sort of record will help you argue your case to a landlord if you need to break your lease. If you write it down and it happens infrequently and with months in between, you're probably right about the relationship, but you might not be in a position to provide meaningful help without considerable risk to your well-being.

    Personally, I've tended to wait until I've heard something that I had no doubt was call the cops worthy. Living in apartments for so long, and in cities like Baltimore, I've heard all manner of shitty relationships from the sidelines. I've generally had the benefit of a block of people who could have been the potential cop caller over me, but if you hear a prolonged amount of violent slamming or struggling, call the cops. If the couple approaches you accusingly, you thought there was a break in and were scared for your own safety.

    My last neighbors who were in this basic situation started locking each other out and calling the cops on each other, so I never had to do anything. I made a conscious effort to avoid them both, since it seemed like they both were happy to bang on other peoples doors and make a scene. Hard to know what you have on your hands sometimes.

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  • CalicaCalica Registered User regular
    Thanks all. Yeah, if I hear something that sounds definitely violent, of course I'll call the cops. It's not even a question at that point. So far I've only heard angry raised voices and what might have been someone striking an object. (Not slamming a door, I'm pretty sure; that resonates through the frame of a house in a way this didn't. If I seem overly confident, it's because this building is constructed very similarly to the one I grew up in; the soundscape is familiar.)

    I'm going to stay out of it for now. I will start noting when I hear concerning things, though.

    Jedoc wrote: »
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    CelestialBadgerZilla360
  • VeeveeVeevee WisconsinRegistered User regular
    If you want, you could let Nancy know you are there if she ever needs someone to call the police. You can frame it as you living alone and that if you ever need help you hope she can be a safe resource for you, and you're just reciprocating the request. Throw in as many winks and nudges as you're comfortable with, even if it's none. I'd recommend this as a minimum if you suspect abuse again, but I wouldnt hold it against you if you didn't. It's very scary to inject yourself in that kind of situation.

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