For the first six months or so of the mobbing, this was a real sticking point for me. Who could possibly do such a thing to another human being?
I couldn’t get past the enormity of what was happening to me, that other human beings that I had barely exchanged words with or hadn’t exchanged words with at all had conspired to throw me, a middle-aged woman and legal resident, out of my home in the liberal city of Seattle and in a democratic country that had long since stopped telling people where they could live. What was worse was the realization of months and perhaps years of planning that had gone into the effort. The opening blows in the mobbing were designed to make me uncomfortable and embarrassed over the information that the mobbers seemed to have at least improperly and most likely illegally obtained about me.
I remember harassers narrating to me their own skewed perspective of my family relationships, telling me lies about my family, interrogating me about my job performance and my reporting of time worked. I remember the harassers telling me what could be considered family secrets that were sheer lies or things they shouldn’t have known. I remember them telling me about my health history, describing what I looked like without clothes, and claiming to have talked to every lover I had had.
This is only a brief summary of the content of the harassment in the first months, which was designed to have such a strong impact that I would leave without looking back, that I would leave with no one the wiser.
And there was an impact on me. A great one. I still cannot believe that people would do such a thing or that they would go to such lengths to attempt to make someone out to be a criminal and in so doing scare them out of their home. And that they would do so when in fact they were committing felony after felony in their effort.
But this reluctance to believe that this was being done to me, this thing which is so very like something that would happen under Nazism or in communities where secret organizations like the KKK hold sway—this unwillingness to accept it continued for the first six or so months, until I finally had an emotional crisis that was frightening in its intensity, but that had me laughing when I realized that I wouldn’t be destroyed by people who could do something so hideous, no matter what they did, even if they physically harmed me.
And since that moment, there have been fewer and fewer times when I considered being bullied from my home.
I have spent time since then thinking about the people who were, and who are, doing this to me though. And in the months since that time, I’ve observed enough, and heard more than enough in the harassment, to have developed some theories about who these people are. Who mobs then? Well, I can’t name all of the people though the now continual harassment comes from the houses on either side of me. So depending on whether those who own the houses on either side paid for it or bought their houses with the intention of harassing out the single female renter in the middle, their involvement in the mobbing may be of a different nature. I’m pretty sure that in the eyes of the law, those who would conspire to invade someone’s privacy in an attempt to blackmail them out of their home, or who would pay for or give access to harassers hired by, say, a developer or real estate speculator—moreover, harassers who are committing felonies involving monitoring, stalking and cyber-stalking—would be considered to be one with the mobbers. That’s pretty much what I’m going by, anyway. They’re all mobbers to me.
So who mobs?
The houses on either side of me were bought by single men in their thirties. Single professional men with professional licenses that tend to make people appear above board in the eyes of society, and of the law. It’s as though professional licensure is some kind of “Get out of jail free” card, except it’s more like a “Get away with high crimes” card based on what these people seem to feel comfortable inflicting on the neighbor who apparently resides on property they want.
Both of these men immediately started a never-ending series of improvements. And while they were gone for long periods of time, there began a pattern of both of them having guests in the houses when they were gone. In fact, it became apparent as the mobbing got underway and as I found myself the target of projected harassment on both sides of my small house as I walked between windows and doors, that these houses that seemed eerily quiet were never empty.
But in the sedans, SUVs and trucks that have come and gone from the driveways of both houses during the days and nights over which I’ve been relentlessly harassed by disembodied voices that are clearly projected from the houses on my south and north, perhaps twenty people or more come and go late at night, early in the morning, some with plates from Oregon or California though I’ve also seen Idaho plates, which makes sense as a state with fewer protections for tenants in which developers might more easily get away with “clearing-by-smearing” style harassment like what’s being directed towards me. Some of them have changed cars as they’ve spotted me noting their plate numbers, and some cars have parked in the driveways of multiple houses that have participated or supported the mobbing, for example, the house of a local “captain” of the neighborhood watch. This, coupled with relationships I’ve observed and that are documented by public documents, including court transcripts, seems to confirm the conspiracy which would be required to put something like this into place on a public street, however, quiet it seems.
And who are these people?
The single male owners of the houses on either side of me are in their thirties, white men, privileged backgrounds so far as I can tell. And with roots in semi-rural or rural communities. Both men characterized themselves as something of a “redneck” in the first months here when I assumed that their presence would shut down the harassment that had seemed driven by one of the captains of the neighborhood watch in apparent cahoots with a developer. Within weeks, both men made it clear that I had something they wanted —more driveway space, more parking space, whatever. I had it, and they wanted it.
One of the houses has a decidedly younger and more obviously irresponsible presence than the other. One of the professionals has a girlfriend who, I was told when she moved in, came from money based on family ownership of a fast food franchise in the northwest. Many of the people who come to that house seem to be about her age, women in their twenties, some green-wigged Seahawks followers or women whose makeup could put a drag queen to shame. Young women who may still be in school and their boyfriends or friends of the owner, some including, apparently, professionals in law or medicine and their status-conscious vehicles, sun glasses, and allegiance to Crossfit and fitness trainers of the professional classes. It’s from this house that many of the comments come and came, even when they stood outside before the mobbing had started, looking at their feet and nervously declaring that I was “the wrong demographic.” As I have now gathered, the right demographic, is that of their own circle. It was this house early on from which I heard the owner telling someone that he wanted at least the driveway—mine. And this house whose owner also declared an interest in enlarging his front veranda to extend past the facade of my own residence and outward to the property line between our houses. The harassers whose disembodied voices usually sound like the real voices of those residing in that house tend towards an ethos something like, “You’ll never prove it and we’ll trash you in court” if you don’t get out. These voices love taunting, and petty threats and coercions are a keynote, chief among them the threat that if I report, they will call the police and say that I’m harassing them.
There are a few people of color who come to one house or the other. Those who are not workers are likely from equally privileged suburban backgrounds, the kind of backgrounds that some white kids come out of thinking it’s cool to be a gangster. From what I can see, it’s even cooler to be a “mobber.” Especially if your doting parents think it’s okay to play tricks on the renters!
Coolness may well be one of the appeals of this mobbing thing for those in this particular house. Maybe the girlfriend of the owner of this house has money and hired mobbers to help her boyfriend extend the house they share. After all, the week the mobbing entered my awareness, I was given a front-row view of the girlfriend as she and party guests carried on the pretense of having bought my rental house out from under me. In the May warmth, her words carried into my house less than ten feet away: “We think she’ll (me) be more comfortable if she leaves.” It could be that this supposedly monied girlfriend is or stood in for the “queen bee” of the mobbing, or that as someone who paid the mobbers, was given the option to “kick it off” by making a show of being the source of the harassment I was about to receive, by claiming the role of the person who was kicking me out of my home. But, based on the events that have happened, it could just as easily be that for this apparently privileged mid-twenties kid, the prospect of kicking someone out of their home is intoxicating in its power. It could be that someone like her would find a place in the crime that is mobbing, at least, that she would find a place so long as she believed that no one could ever prove what she has done. And a significant segment of the harassment goes to attempting to convince me that this is true—that there is no way that anyone will believe me or will prove the crimes that have gone on here in this quiet northeast neighborhood of Seattle. Their “mobbing” is rife with the stereotyped comments that people like them probably think might bother their victims. It’s kind of a Sticks and stones will break your bones and my words are so powerful that people should decamp from their properties kind of mentality. What’s most saddening to me about this is that people would even think in the way that they seem to do. The world of their minds must be a truly depressing place.
The house on the other side has a slightly older feel. The professional who owns that works out of town a significant amount of time and whether or not he is in town, others are always in residence. Some of these are women in their forties, or young adults. One of the most frequent is a woman I was told was a roommate, though given the harassment when she is in evidence, I suspect she may be a professional harasser. The owner of that house struck me as something of a bully months before the mobbing started, as someone one must be “careful” in dealing with. It is this guy who seems perfectly comfortable doing things that are illegal and severely harmful to me. He’s like that nasty guy who is beginning to bald, who has been divorced a time or two and has been embroiled in lots of disputes but who doesn’t care. Like some white man who thinks he should always get he wants, some white man who would lie in court to get it and doesn’t care who he hurts. This one cozies up to developers and real estate agents. I’ve seen him talk openly about “getting [me] out” and whine to others that I haven’t moved out despite being harassed. He’s the kind of person who would probably not think twice about subjecting someone to exactly what I’ve gone through in the last 16 months, and more.
The organization that is evident in the mobbing is what makes it look like whatever their professions, the men who moved in on either side of me may have come with the intention to mob. My theory is this, a certain developer and some in the local neighborhood watch were so intent to “get [me] out” that they ensured that the houses that were for sale on either side of me went to those who had antipathy towards renters, or who expected to get something in return for making me uncomfortable enough in my home so that I would leave. Why not? The same real estate agent sold multiple houses in this area and is with the same company whose regional manager personally called my landlords to infer that I was the cause of a real estate deal falling through. And I have heard the co-captain of the neighborhood association rush out to a prospective buyer of the house next door to her to tell them that I would not “be here”. So I believe that the buyers of these houses were selected or perhaps self-selected for their willingness to harass a legal tenant out of her home. And what’s in it for them?
This could well be the happy marriage of the interests of developers, and nasty neighborhood watch, and nearby neighbors who seek to enlarge their property before they flip their own houses.
Take, for example, the website “propertymob.” What better attitude for the former fraternity brother white guy who sees himself as an up-and-coming real estate investor? What better attitude than that of a “property mobber”? It’s cool and though it may well be criminal, so long as you do a good job it’s only criminal until you scare the renters out with some tricks and can then move into the role of getting the owners of the house to accept an offer that is *very* favorable to your own pocketbook.
Just look at propertymob.com, which entices the up-and-coming generation of scum-bucket investors with statements like Become a badass investor today and advertises itself as Real Estate Investor’s Most Gangster Site of All Time. This is the site where I saw tips about how to compel the sale of a house by reporting property violations and whines about investing in houses that were already rented. What if this whole propertymob.com thing comes out the recession? Remember, the recession was the first time for many men in construction that they could not find a job, the first time ever. Is it possible that this sort of no pity, cutthroat approach could have come out of or been exaggerated by real estate agents’ failure to sell during the recession, by out of work construction workers who might have found harassment a good second source of income? Or who might have been encouraged to help clear potential building sites as the recession lifted? Not to mention the fact that helping to mob someone out of their home could be a great source of free rent — after all, if they want you to harass someone all night they do need to put you up. And, based on what I’ve seen of some of the people in the younger house, I’d say it might be a good way of working your way through school as well. In my day at a liberal university, I was more involved in working my way through school by contributing to cooperative housing and food efforts. But it seems like times have changed.
Anyway, enough for tonight. I’m a woman living in a state of active mobbing. It takes a toll to tend a garden, keep a job, and write a blog while criminals in houses on both sides insult you, threaten you, and demand that you decamp from your legal home of years, especially when the neighborhood watch people who probably invited them into the neighborhood get frustrated that the target of the effort won’t leave and decide to resume banging their trash cans whenever you emerge from your harassment-ridden home.
But I’ll keep going. I just want to make sure I reward their efforts with the police investigation they deserve. One good turn deserves another, eh?