Sons and Mothers–and Others: About My Senior Bullying Situation

Key issues to note about the Georgian Court North situation: There are videos, photos, and numerous emails and other documentation. Motivation seems to be twofold: 1) being gay, and 2) having voiced disagreement with the  financial policy due its being against Florida statutes. (e.g. paying board members & President performing management activities. Possible alleged cover-up: currying favor with gay couples, thus they have deniability about being against gays. There are similarities between abuse and bullying, ie. secrecy as well as the teaming with long-time friends who cover for the bullying and even participate at times. Some of these individuals may not fully realize the possible harmful effects they may be encouraging–especially as it escalates into physical violence. Although bullying, like other forms of abuse, often occurs in relative privacy, some of this bullying is done by their friends or cronies working together:

I retired to south Florida as I am the only caregiver for a hubby who’s had Stage IV cancer and is left with memory problems, etc. I needed to be around someone who could help me as I was wearing out, and sometimes I get sick and I needed my son to help at those times.  I moved to an over 55 place where many snowbirds come yearly. The Coop has 144 units and my son and his partner live upstairs, then I live on the south end downstairs of the same building.  (Over 55 complexes require 80% older and the rest of the population can be younger.)
Since we bought our small places, moving away isn’t a choice, as I spent our retirement on my husband’s cancer and we live on a close budget.  Besides, we feel like we shouldn’t let bullies drive us off. To explain, there is a group of unit owners who’ve owned here for several decades. They are in their late 70s and 80s, and have a very insular social circle (that means not including anyone not like them). They hate gays, obvious from the terms they use, as well as the comments that “they kill them in Russia.”  They turned against  my son and his partner several years ago when they stood up in the yearly owners’ meeting and clarified the need to comply with Florida law for coops by not paying any board members. For that these two young men were screamed at vilely and even had their life threatened and screeched at while being told to leave!
There are quite a number of state investigations ongoing. One in particular is paying the president of the board (illegal) and letting him manage without a license (also illegal). The State of Florida charged the Board President Mr. Edward J. Ryan with managing without a CAM license and being paid as a board member. He was put into a Senior Diversion Program wherein he continued to participate in a managerial way with the board members contrary to the terms of the case resolution.
There has been ongoing bullying against my son and his partner for almost 10 years when they moved here. Recently, when the investigations started the bullying greatly increased. (They probably think our family started the investigations but we actually did not.)  My son in law even got attacked in the laundry room. It’s so bad that I try to be with anyone who leaves their apartments of my family for any reason any time day or night. The people who bully don’t like having a witness so not being alone is important.
Much of this is hard to prove since they try to catch us alone. We have cell phone videos and pictures which would shock anyone, but when we tried to press charges the State Attorney’s office didn’t really want to do it, citing the age of the perpetrators, etc. etc. So even our proof didn’t seem to matter too much to them.
I should mention that my son was unable to walk for almost a year, making the bullying even more terrorizing even though he is a professional who works full time. We make sure to do our wash when all of us can be there so no one can be cornered in the laundry room. Even then, one lady declared how much she didn’t like my son, loudly and repeatedly. I showed up and guided her away, but these people are relentless. She lives in our building and one night he was making his way on crutches up the stairs, and she remarked, “Don’t worry, I won’t push you down the stairs.”  Hmmm.
Like all abuse and bullying, it works best in secrecy. So my self-assigned task has been to BE THERE and thus prevent much of the stalking  and hate-filled behaviors. Here are just a few of the incidents:
* Numerous abusive name-calling and yelling in laundry room (using expletives referring to gays, etc.)
* Standing behind our cars (my son’s and his partners especially) when they are trying to back out.
* One guy can ride a bike well, so he rode bike circles round & round in front of my son as his partner was bringing him home from a hospital procedure. The bike circles prevented my son from coming into our parking lot. When I was able to walk up in his line of vision, the bike-rider rode away.
* The same man walked a few feet from my sister-in-law, holding his phone to his ear and saying, “In Russia they shoot them. I’d be just fine with that.”
* Showing up wielding a golf club when my son-in-law went to get another bag of groceries from his car. (Bullies love privacy, so I’m committed to be there as a witness when at all possible.) 
* A few days ago I was in the parking lot watching my son-in-law return from the store. The same man who a few months ago tried to beat him up sped his car up and pulled beside him even though there aren’t two lanes in our parking lot. We got dash-cams but even with proof we don’t know if anyone will ever listen.
* Of course, I think I need to preface each of these items with the word “alleged” even though I see things with my own eyes.
Ways We’ve Tried To Help Ourselves:
After the physical attack in the laundry room, our family has instituted a Buddy System. No one goes out of their apartment without a witness. Usually the witness is me, since they haven’t targeted me yet. Police have been called several times by us and even by another couple of dissenters, but largely to no avail.  A restraining order is not a viable solution since they live in such close quarters, and besides, it isn’t always the same person who does the intimidation and bullying. 
This is my schedule for weekdays, with weekends being more varied: 
+ Early a.m. Walk to parking lot, scan it, then go upstairs to guard against the neighbor lady, then parking lot duty to enable going to work.
+ Do any needed errands early in the morning since most of the bullies aren’t out and around that early.
+ mid-day Same routine to allow others to go to store or dr. appt. etc. I always walk out ahead since the bullies sometimes try to stage events as we turn the corner, so I have to watch that area also. This involves my being in the parking lot for both the leaving and the returning, so close coordination is required–often by text messaging.
+ Evening –sometimes after dark–when my son returns from work after the long commute.
*Get to bed on time so I can get up by 6 a.m. and be fully dressed in time. Stay home and available, dressed, and ready to leave at a moments (or 5 minutes) notice to show up as a witness when needed.
+ Of course, I am the only caregiver for my husband. So I fix meals, look after him, coordinate medical appointments, and other numerous caregiver duties. At the same time, I deal with my own medical issues of glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, vertigo, and several other issues including low immunity.
 + Oh, and just to throw the bullies off, I take my cane, or sometimes an umbrella which doubles as a cane, and walk back & forth several times a day in the parking lot so the people who harass  won’t know when I’m meeting a family member and when I’m just walking. (It’s like a game of chess.)
* Be present at the mail area, laundry room, and trash bins when needed. The laundry room can take an extended portion of time, and seems to be a regular target for harassment.  A couple of times I’ve left for less than 5 minutes and something bad happens, so I’ve learned to stay there for the several hours needed to finish the job.
*Wear a head cam to witness, document and/or prevent acts of intimidation and bullying. This became even more important after the State filed a case and the witness intimidation increased.
As can be easily seen, this situation has been a significant drain on our whole family.  The constant stress has taken quite a toll on our health and daily life, as vouched for in letters from my doctor and social worker..  
However, I must say that even though the growing witness intimidation (since I was under subpoena as a witness for the State) would scare off an old lady.  Well it didn’t! It just motivated me more toward finding justice.
For a number of months I could — by acting as a witness and by always “being there” prevent or reduct most incidents of harassment.  When I couldn’t prevent I could document. Yet as the State’s case drew near, they began to target me.  This is when it got more difficult and challenging for us. .

About grantutor

Career educator in both public and private schools. Has tutored all ages. Writes about education, parenting, & seniors. Sings harmony with folk/rock group and a choir. Caregiver for spouse who dealt with Stage IV cancer. Happy person committed to nature and conservation of a green world.
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