Blocking: Harassing Neighbors

Blocking is the constant harassment of neighbors that can, in the worst case, lead to serious psychological consequences for the person who has been the victim of the harassment.
Blocking: harassment of neighbors

The term “harassment or harassment” is present in many areas of everyday life. Younger children suffer from bullying at school or another educational institution. A person can be harassed even at their own points among their own family members, and in addition, many encounter harassment or workplace bullying, or mobbing,  at work by one or more co-workers.

As we can see, hostility and aggression or violence between people become apparent in the daily lives of many. A similar phenomenon can also be found in a neighborhood called the English word blocking . This is harassment by one or more neighbors of someone living in the same neighborhood or block. Blocking is not limited to problems of coexistence alone, but this type of bullying often results in constant and repeated harassment of a neighbor.

Because of the harassment, the victim begins to suffer the typical psychological consequences that can usually be seen in most victims who have been abused. Some of these manifest psychological symptoms may include low self-esteem, constant fear and anxiety, feelings of despair, depressive symptoms, and even thoughts of suicide.

At present, continuous and repeated harassment of a neighbor is designated in the Finnish Penal Code as a violation of domestic peace and may result in a fine or even imprisonment.

Blocking, or harassing a neighbor, can, at worst, lead to serious psychological disorders for the victim

Different stages of blocking and harassment

Blocking consists of several different steps. Ideally, the victim should never wait for all these steps to happen, but report the situation as soon as the signs of harassment listed below begin to appear.

  • Conflict phase. In most cases, neighbor harassment begins to form when a cohabitation problem or conflict is not resolved in a timely manner. An example is a neighbor’s dog who spends most of the day barking and howling, causing other neighbors to become irritated by the noise the dog makes.
  • Onset of harassment. One or more parties to a conflict embark on a series of different strategies designed to bully the other party to the conflict who has been harassed. These strategies include, for example, not greeting in the elevator or even commenting on a person in a low voice behind this back. At this point, it is still common for both the victim and the neighbor or neighbors to prohibit harassment. This denial is due to the avoidance of reality and if this use is not stopped in time, it will cause constant and repeated harassment.
  • External intervention. Harassment becomes apparent and various external factors seek to contribute to solving the problem.
  • Exclusion, absconding or exclusion from the community. In the final stage, the victim may feel compelled, for example, to move out of the area or even sell their house. In situations where, for one reason or another, the victim is unable or unwilling to move out, he or she may have to move around the community in hiding so that he or she does not have to meet a neighbor, for example on stairs, in the elevator, in corridors or at the entrance. In the long run, this leads to the complete decay of the victim, as he can no longer feel comfortable even in his own home.

What can be done about it from a psychological perspective?

It is very important that both the victim and the bullying neighbor themselves seek psychological help. From this perspective, it is essential to conduct exercises that improve communication between the two parties as well as calm but determined perseverance in relation to the situation. 

For example, if a neighbor has a dog that barks around the clock and the other neighbor constantly complains, it is very important that both parties are able to find a consensus on the situation. The neighbor who owns the dog may be the first to apologize and try to avoid a recurrence of the situation or, for example, train the dog himself or through the dog school so that it no longer barks for days.

On the other hand, the complainant neighbor – who would probably end up disturbing the neighbor in a situation where the conflict is not resolved in time – tends to be more flexible and accommodating, realizing that neighbors have pets they simply cannot reject because they happen to disturb another. in addition, the neighbor should also understand that normal noise must be able to tolerate when it is not exaggerated.

The key to resolving conflicts between neighbors is mutual communication and empathy

Possible outcomes

If a consensus is found on a situation where the other party increases flexibility and tolerance where the other party seeks to resolve the problem, it is very likely that the harassment will not progress and the situation will calm down. On the contrary, if one or more of the parties go on the defensive line, it is more likely that the situation will start to develop in a more serious direction and end much worse than it has begun.

Once the harassment has already taken place, it is essential that the victim receives professional help for the situation, which is able to improve the victim’s sense of security and raise their self-esteem. The victim may be urged to isolate himself or herself from the behavior of his or her neighbors, to avoid opening up conversations and, above all, not to react to the insults or humiliations of the bully or bullies. This, of course, whenever harassment is limited to verbal interaction. It is clear that in situations where, in addition to verbal insults, the victim is physically accessed, the victim must immediately turn to the police. In some cases, ignoring a neighbor’s disturbing behavior can eventually also cause the disturber to get tired.

If none of the above means work and the harassment has lasted for a long time, moving out of the neighborhood may be one option. However, switching off should be the last resort in these situations. In addition, in the new home, it is important that the person who has been the victim of the harassment does not fall into the same situation again and introduces himself to all the neighbors. In addition, it is important that he kindly inform his neighbors that he has a dog or that he has a habit of playing the piano in the afternoon or that he has a small baby who often cries at night. This is how new neighbors know what to expect.

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