It’s no new revelation that women often feel afraid and threatened in public spaces. But there’s something especially sinister in being made to feel unsafe in your own home. And that’s exactly what happened to one woman in her 20s who took to Reddit’s Am I The Asshole thread to recount her unnerving experience with her neighbours.
‘[I] recently moved houses (I live on my own)’ she explained in her post. ‘My new next-door neighbours are a middle-aged couple who are extremely religious…We’ve had amazing weather lately and I’ve been spending a lot of my time in my garden, chilling or working on my laptop, wearing shorts and t-shirts or summer dresses. Just normal clothes,’ she emphasised.
‘I haven’t even really met my neighbours until one day, the woman rang my doorbell. To my surprise, she asked me to start covering up [and that] she has a husband and growing boys and I shouldn’t be showing my body. [She said] that men can’t help but look and its our (women’s) responsibility to cover our bodies.’
As most people are aware, this view is massively antiquated: ‘I told her that no…men are perfectly capable of not looking,’ the original poster [OP] wrote. ‘Perhaps she should teach her husband and sons that they shouldn’t be creeps and I closed the door.
‘While I haven’t noticed anything earlier, now I was on high alert and whenever I was in the garden, I noticed someone in their house was often creeping on me through the window,’ she horrifyingly recounted.
‘One day I was coming home from shopping and saw the husband installing a camera FACING MY GARDEN,' she continued. 'I could see another one facing my living room. It was creepy to say the least and I decided to get my own camera because I wasn’t feeling safe.'
‘Well, turns out if was a good idea because the husband was a major peeping Tom,’ she revealed. ‘Turns out that whenever his wife left at night (I often stay up late), he would come and try to sneak a peak through my windows (mostly my downstairs bathroom).’
The OP then reported the husband to the local authorities for the cameras as they’re not allowed to face someone else’s property where she lives. Thankfully, the authorities made him take them down, which should have been the end of it.
But then his wife then became enraged and said she’d been lying to everyone and that she was a sex worker. Charming.
‘She claimed that it was a safety camera and I should’ve talked to them first and they would have sorted it out,’ the OP said. ‘But frankly, after the last conversation we had, I didn’t feel comfortable speaking with them.
‘I’m now considering reporting him for peeping as well,’ she continued. ‘But I am wondering, AITA [Am I The Asshole] for reporting them for cameras without speaking to them first?’
Let’s be clear, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, voyeurism (observing someone in a private act) is illegal in the UK. Although looking out of the window at your neighbour might not seem an overly sinister thing to do at first, repetitively staring and invading someone’s personal space is intimidating, uncomfortable and wrong.
Plus, investigators have said that murderers including Ted Bundy and Dennis Rader were peeping Toms in their teens before they became killers. So, as much as you might be able to downplay the crime in comparison to other instances of male violence, it’s really not something that should be ignored.
As one Reddit user put it: 'You don't have to give criminals a warning before reporting them. Report him for peeping. Very disturbing behaviour. Taking that together with his wife's odd insistence about you needing to cover up in your own property I am seeing massive red flags waving.’