Have you ever had a landlord with emotionally abusive behaviour? Unfortunately, I met one a couple of years ago. Let me tell you my story:
The banging at my door was loud and aggressive. I was alone in my apartment. My roommate had just left. They knew that I was at home. I had no chance but to open the door. My landlord’s face was red, his wife was right behind him. He yelled at me right away, “Here is your written notice. I will get into your apartment now.” He pushed the paper onto my chest with so much force that I was thrust aside.
I tried to resist and told him that the law required a 24-hour written notice. Therefore, he would be able to enter the next day. His face turned dark red, “You do not have any rights. You are not even Canadian.” His wife who stood behind him threw her arms in the air and also yelled at me.
My intuition told me that there was a risk that he would be physically violent if I did not allow them in. I did not know anybody in this area. I had moved into this apartment just four months ago. I did not have my phone to call the police. I took a step back. They rushed into the apartment, constantly yelling. I cannot remember what they told me. I just tried to go through the situation without having it escalating.
After my landlord and his wife left, I phoned the only friend I had in Canada. This time, I was in tears. I felt horrified. I had just moved to Canada and this situation was not really what I had hoped for. She calmed me down and suggested to file a complaint with the tenants association, which I did.
The next day, I started to look for a new apartment. It had not been the first incident with my landlord and his wife. I had seen red flags before that day. I had addressed those issues with them. However, while they had verbally promised me to change, their actions demonstrated the opposite. They repeatedly ignored the boundaries that I had communicated. This environment was toxic for me and I did not want to stay there.
The day my landlord received the complaint, my roommate texted me that he had gone crazy. When I got home, I heard an incredible noise. The walls of the house were shaking. It felt as if he was throwing bowling balls onto the floor of the apartment above. We had a sense that the ceiling would be breaking. My roommate told me to phone the police. When they came they talked to my landlord but they also said that they could not do anything because it was his house. If he was invading our apartment, we should phone them again.
We spent that night in my roommate’s room. I feared that my landlord would come down into our room with a gun. The staircase that connected our apartments did not have a door. I wondered if I would be able to phone the police if he would really do this. I held a golf club in one hand and my phone in the other. The next morning, I packed my three cats into their crate and we moved out.
My roommate later stated that she would just have endured in this situation. I guess that I would have stayed longer when I was younger. In my late twenties, I was not able to recognize emotionally abusive behaviour and stayed in situations that were toxic. It was related to the fact that I grew up in a dysfunctional family and did not know where my boundaries were. During my healing journey, I re-created healthy boundaries. Emotionally abusive behaviour violates my boundaries and is damaging to my well-being. I believe it is an act of self-love to leave toxic situations. While I cannot influence how people treat me, I am responsible to respect my boundaries and take care of my safety.
If you struggle with setting boundaries or taking care of your safety, you are not alone. Growing up in a dysfunctional family or experiencing childhood abuse reduces our ability to have healthy boundaries. Therefore, we may consciously or unconsciously tolerate behaviours that aren’t healthy for us. However, you can choose to change this. Through counselling, you can recover and learn to set healthy boundaries. As a result, you will experience a higher level of personal fulfillment and joy.