The roommate of my nightmares

How I survived living with a roommate who terrified me

More stories from Madeline Furstenberg

The Tator
December 12, 2018

Photo by Can Stock Photography

Safety is a priority when finding a new roommate.

Have you ever come to the conclusion that you just might have the worst roommate in the world?

Well, you’re wrong. Allow me to tell you why.

You can’t possibly have the worst roommate in the world, because she’s been living in my apartment for the last few weeks.

This roommate — let’s call her Jane — signed on as a subleaser at my apartment when my previous roommate decided to transfer. I have absolutely no idea where my previous roommate found Jane, but I only got to meet her once before she moved in.

Jane seemed nice enough, at first. She quickly made herself very comfortable in my apartment — taking my things, hanging Bible quotes on the walls of shared spaces, rearranging my furniture, almost constantly partying and leaving disgusting puke stains on my carpet. Relatively normal bad college roommate behavior, right?

The issues didn’t really start until her probation officer showed up at our front door for a “monthly inspection.” This was not something she had disclosed to me, so you can imagine my surprise when Jane later told me about her previous assault charges from when she attacked someone she “had a problem with.”

Upon looking up her record, I was horrified by the long list of criminal offenses. The worst part was written in the terms that would be considered probation violations: absolutely no access to alcohol, and no contact with… let’s call him John.

Did I mention Jane’s very scary boyfriend who was also practically living in my apartment? John.

When Jane first told me about John, she started the conversation by saying: “But don’t worry, he won’t hurt either of us.” That was probably the first red flag. She then proceeded to talk about how John sometimes hits her and threatens her. She told me the story of how John was expelled from his high school for hitting another student on the head with a hammer. I listened to the pair fight constantly and threaten each other with physical harm — sometimes at ridiculous hours of the night. Jane would oftentimes storm out of the apartment and leave John behind, without a ride home.

I was terrified. Absolutely mortified by the idea of possibly walking into my apartment and coming across a crime scene. I wanted Jane gone, but how could I tell her to leave without becoming the next person she “has a problem with?”

I talked to her probation officer. Turns out, the violations against her probation were enough to get her transferred back to her old county. Jane went into her monthly probation meeting earlier this week and never came back to my apartment. Imagine my surprise when I found out she was actually arrested when she reacted poorly to the news.

And this wasn’t even the worst of it. After speaking with my lovely former roommate — the one who found Jane — Jane’s friends found out that I had gone to the probation officer. Old roomie then proceeded to give my phone number to these furious friends. Thanks, buddy.

Thus begins the vaguely threatening phone calls and harrassing texts. They tell me they have Jane’s key and threaten to use it. Later that day, while I was at work, I got a message from my neighbors informing me that people had gone into my apartment. The police were called, but because Jane was still on the lease, and she had given them permission to enter, they were not technically trespassing.

Regardless of what these people told the cops, I still shudder at the thought of what might’ve happened if I had been home at the time.

This has been a terrible experience for me. All I wanted was to feel safe in my own home. I didn’t mean for Jane to get arrested, but her actions landed her in that position anyway. The feeling of getting texts from random numbers telling me how awful and heartless I am is a feeling that I would never wish on anyone. I am afraid to be alone in my own apartment.

Jane’s friends blame me for what happened, but I have to keep reminding myself that Jane is in control of her own actions. She knowingly and willingly broke some major terms of her probation. I didn’t make her do that, I just refused to enable her poor behavior — something her friends should’ve been doing as well.

The moral of the story is this: Do what you think is right. Your safety comes before all else — never let bullies try to take that away from you. Bad situations like mine will pass, so don’t let fear keep you from preserving your own comfort and safety. All things work themselves out in the end.

Until then, pray for me.

Fuerstenberg can be reached at [email protected].