Fear Thy Neighbour – How Trust Can Be Dangerous

January 18, 2017

One of the SheBrisbane team has recently been left with a feel of unease & unrest. Actually she was down right scared. It all started when she moved into a new neighbourhood and was greeted by a new neighbour.  The SheBrisbane team is a friendly bunch of women, always smiling and thinking the best in people.  Which in this instance put our team member in a very vulnerable situation…

On moving day for our team member a friendly middle aged male neighbour across the road came and introduced himself.  A few words of welcome were exchanged, the offer of help in passing and then back to daily business.  

That afternoon she was invited by the new neighbour across the road for a drink, being friendly and thinking the best in people she accepted the offer.  Accidentally leaving her phone behind she went across the road for what she thought would be a friendly drink in the backyard of the neighbours property.  Instead, she was hurried into the house, where all the lights were off and there was no one home. Already alarm bells started to ring. She was then scurried into the bedroom to be shown the bath tub that overlooks the leafy green back yard as the first part of the tour of the house. Alarm bells started to ring even louder.  

The bedroom first? Really? Thinking the best of people she kept her cool, smiled and continued the tour of the house. The neighbour led her to the rooftop door which led out to an outdoor rooftop bar area, she went to open the door and the door was quickly slammed with the words muttered, ‘don’t go out there, we can’t have the neighbours talking and gossiping, no one must know you have been here, you can’t tell anyone’.  Laughing that off she started feeling even more uneasy about being there let alone not having her phone with her.

Not wanting to alert or alarm the neighbour she went with the flow and proceeded down the stairs of the house as he ushered her down in front of him into the kitchen area. With all lights still off the only light coming in was from the kitchen window which looks out onto the road.  Offering her a glass of wine, she remembered that you should always ask for a drink with a bottle top in case there has been the opportunity for the drink to be drugged. Thanks year 12 life skills! This is where her fear started to grow and she looked at her watch. He noticed this and asked if she had somewhere to be?  To this she pretended she had a dinner date with her nanna to get her out of there faster.  He insisted on her sitting for a chat and gave her a bottle of beer from the fridge.

Questions were asked if she had a boyfriend, when are you planning on sleeping in the new apartment, where do your family live, how old are you? Then comments such as a pretty girl like you and no boyfriend, I don’t believe it all while touching her arm every now and then to make her known that he was there and listening. To deflect the conversation to him he started with his life story… He had just become a divorcee, his wife had cheated on him.  His daughters had all finished school and were either working full time or in university studying.  All she could think of was, I am going to be murdered, no one is going to know where I am, I have no phone with me.

With the conversation continuing on himself, another big glass of wine poured into his glass and the conversation of his three attempts at suicide it was evident that she needed to leave as this was a very lonely man who needs help. She insisted she had her dinner date with her nanna and she needed to leave.  At this stage the house was pitch black with only light coming in through the kitchen window. She commented on the lighting and he turned on a light on the stairs so they could make their way up the stairs to leave. Then weirdly turned it off so no one could see anyone walking out of the house.

The conversation of ’you mustn’t’ tell anyone you are here or you came here, no one must know’ was exchanged again and this made her want to shout from the rooftop that she was there!  He insisted that if she needed anything to let him know as he is just across the road.

Ah… buddy she is never going to want anything from you except to stop being so creepy!

Needless to say she ran into her place, grabbed her phone, got in her car and drove away and rang a friend and freaked out!  Talking it through with the SheBrisbane team it was thrown around that maybe she was overreacting. There were raps across the knuckles for going there in the first place without her phone and putting herself in that position. How dare she be a nice person and think the best in people, what was she thinking!  And then a thought crossed everyone’s mind.  Was this just a lonely man who is in a terrible time of his life, having just been cheated on, divorced and now crying out for help?  Sure, but the way he made her uncomfortable isn’t acceptable. Don’t be a massive creep and leave your lights out when inviting someone over for a drink and don’t show them your bedroom first…Come on! That is horror movie material.

A couple of days later after our team member had just started to get over the situation she received a phone call from an unknown number. Sure enough it was from her neighbour, shocked, she said she was very busy and unable to talk. This had crossed a line. He had gone out of his way to find her contact number. She now felt unsafe and uneasy going home so she didn’t. She started to feel scared arriving home and leaving so she didn’t stay at her new apartment for a few nights due to not wanting to run into him again. Another phone call was received, a few more feathers ruffled, and then she decided that enough was enough and she wouldn’t play the victim in the situation.  She sent a text thanking him for his call and if she needed anything she would let him know.  Very matter of fact, no niceties to get him off her back.

People see the fault in both sides of this story, she is stupid for going over there in the first place without her phone and putting herself into a vulnerable situation…Why? Because she sees the best in people and didn’t think about what the consequences would be of going for a friendly neighbour drink.  Sad that she has to think that way, however she will be thinking like this from now on. Still his story felt like a cry for help and you can’t help but think that he needs some support, however this is not her problem.

No one should make you feel unsafe or uneasy and you shouldn’t let them.  If anything this is what our #SheBrisbane team member has learnt. If you are ever feeling unsafe call your local police station and alert them of the situation and be sure to tell a friend.

A new app called Companion is available where you can choose people to alert where you are and if you feel unsafe. Not that that would have helped our gal pal who didn’t take her phone. The app has been downloaded by the whole team today for us to test drive.

We also found this website helpful when looking into what steps should be taken if you find yourself in the same situation.  Don’t risk it.


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