Seeking a safe home? Beware of bullying!

Fall flowers

When we buy a car, we read objective reports and compare prices, when we buy a house, we have a professional inspect to be sure it is safe and sound. But when we choose what may be our last home, if we do not use care, we may move into a terrible, unsafe situation and then find ourselves with no way out.

In this article by Edie Stephenson, she gives insights into her experiences in a multifamily residence for seniors, where she is a target and victim of bullying. And she outlines some steps to take to assure safety in a new home. Edie Stephenson is our person in Missouri, where she is carrying on an energetic campaign to protect herself from bullying and mobbing where she lives and to advocate for protective legislation. Her initiative and leadership are a guide to all of us.—Jerry


For those or your loved ones getting ready to downsize and move into a community setting of multi family, please take heed. Whether it is independent; assisted; full care or subsidized housing, I want you prepared to avoid the world of bullying.


It is an area the average senior; elderly, and handicapped or their families do not think about. You see, any bullying and abuse can be initiated and practiced by management; and/or management staff; and/or management's tenant friends and/or from other tenants.

Your experiences as a target and victim will take over your health and your life.

I did not check out the facility

It has been hell to pay. The experiences of bullying I noticed, started out seeming simply mean, petty and small, but they grew. So did the number of bullies. The bullies are considered a gang more or less running the development. They are allowed and protected to mob fellow tenants and to make our very lives miserable. I learned the site manager, with approval of the owner, had appointed “the seven”—fellow tenants to spy on the rest of us to keep her advised. You surely can imagine the fear and the stress this caused. The site manager also dishes out the bullying to those who her friends do not like.

I was and continue to be one of the targets and victims.

No antibullying laws

Once you are in a setting of bullying, there will be no agency, no policeman, and no representative who will stop it or who will even help you. Attorneys will also refuse the case. I cannot even get a restraining order as bullying here is not illegal unless of course I am threatened or struck.

In Missouri what I and others in this horrid situation of bullying have experienced and seen, will never be corrected without antibullying laws. I am working on it with the help of Jerry and the Stop Bullying Coalition, but right now we have no legal protections. There is no protection for seniors, elderly and the handicapped in multifamily subsidized housing against bullying. This includes independent, assisted and full care in senior community living.

Here's how I should have checked before moving!

If there is inadequate or incompetent management along with weak and/or uncaring owners, you should probably move on. If management is not doing their job, the bullies can usually beat down any opposition. Ignoring the history can subject you or your loved one to a nightmare society you never dreamed existed.

The site manager could have a few years on the job for example and bunches of classes, but be assured, that does not guarantee competency, honesty, professionalism and fairness.

Talk to other tenants; go to the City; visit with Senior help groups; DHUD; check with the state’s Housing Development Commission as to if any complaints have been filed; check with your State Representative; Senator, the Governor; the Attorney General’s Office, etc.


.Your comment here,please

Be especially careful when evaluating a high rise senior citizen / persons with disabilities apartment building. This style of building is more likely to have problems, when compared to a low rise / garden apartment style complex. To properly evaluate the building, you'll need help from family and / or friends. It's a good idea for you and your friends to visit the building and its neighborhood many times, at different times of the day. Drop in on the local businesses. Introduce yourself to the neighbors who don't live in the building and ask about any problems that they have seen or noticed with the building and its residents. Ask your friends to help you by having them drop in on the local businesses and take a fly by the building. Pay close attention to people loitering near the main entrance (or just inside). That's arguably the favorite place for bully cliques to set-up shop. If you and your helpers notice that the same group of residents are hanging out doing nothing, the building probably does have a problem clique--and bullying. Also, is the building isolated? How easy is it for the resident to get to activities he or she really likes? The more isolated the building is, the more likely residents will stay close to home and socialize only with other residents, and that's not such a good thing.

Does the building have on-site management? Is the building manager's office near the main entrance? Having on-site management doesn't guarantee that the residence is bully-free--but it is less likely to have a problem than one with off-site management. A good on-site building manager is more likely to know the residents, be aware of conflicts arising between tenants and be aware of the gossip and not depend on residents for information about what's going on. You want a building manager who behaves professionally. I turned down a subsidized apartment in a very desirable (and expensive) part of town because the building manager refused to tell me what my rent was going to be, after I gave her all my financial data. (Different programs have different criteria for calculating your rent... so ALWAYS ask.) The building had gone through a change in management and the new manager definitely had 'I'm just doin' my job...' Attitude. I'm glad I turned down that apartment, for I have heard that that building is a pretty nasty place now and long-time residents are applying for subsidized apartments elsewhere.

You will not know for sure whether the building you are thinking about moving into has a problem with bullying until you are actually living there. I did a lot of homework on WM before I moved in. The building had a great reputation, but it changed, rather quickly.

Another piece of advice: ALWAYS have applications in for apartments in other developments. There is no guarantee that your bully free residence will remain bully free. All it takes for a building to have a bullying problem (when it didn't have one) is: a burnt-out, overworked building manager, management unable (or unwilling) to enforce the rules, bad policies, upper management crating unenforceable house rules, housing courts unwilling to evict tenants with long histories of gross house rules violations, a new resident who is a bully and who has friends in the building moves in, a resident moves in who is a pest--enjoys stirring up trouble--a real drama king or queen, a resident develops a health problem that causes personality changes, etc.. A building that has been well-run and pleasant to live in can turn bad fairly quickly. If you have applications for housing in and your current building goes bad (for whatever reason), you can take solace in the fact that it's a matter of time before you're going to be living somewhere else. Remember that you can always say NO and asked to be placed at the bottom of the waiting list.

To friends and family of seniors: the research is very clear on this point: very few seniors will volunteer that they are being bullied. It's usually family or friends who sense that something's not quite right with the senior. Senior citizen bullying (social aggression) is a real problem--and it is commonplace. The senior might tell you about incidents that might seem petty and childish (such as someone making a rude sound when one passes, saving seats when it's open seating, gossiping, unwanted touching, etc.) Please, take it seriously. Read up on the topic (see our links page). Speak up. Report the problem to management and hold management accountable (as best you can). Be an advocate for your senior relative or friend.