Harassment can come in many forms, it may be verbal, non
verbal, physical, emotional and even mentally disturbing.
Being a victim of harassment can be a very traumatic
experience, not only for an individual or targeted group, but also for
their friends, family and colleagues.
Harassment is generally classed as unwanted attention.
Can include words or behaviour directed at an
individual (or group) that pester, annoy, threaten or that causes
emotional distress. Systematic, annoying and continued actions, which may
be written, verbal and physical.
A perpetrator of harassment is a bully.
We don't like bullying in schools, we don't like to see
children being bullied, so why allow it in our adulthood.
A bully seeks power and control. They seek to threaten
and demean, they seek to cause emotional turbulence, they get a thrill
from the actions that they take. A temporary high, which needs to be fed,
thus their behaviour generally does escalate, as it makes them feel
better. So their actions continue, and usually escalate.
Harassment at work.
Many larger employers have policy in regards to
harassment in the workplace.
You may find details of this in your employment
You may also be able to obtain information on how to
deal with harassment at work from your union or governing body. In most
cases, you should report your case to your supervisor, manager or where
that is not possible, go to the top.
There are laws (in the UK) to protect you from
harassment. You may think things will blow over, but things generally do
escalate. Around 80% of reported harassment cases are involving men being
harassed by women. Often this follows a relationship breakdown, divorce or
So the sooner you make the report, the sooner you can be
NEVER think you are to blame. Unless you actively
invited someone to behave this way towards you, you are NOT to blame.
What can you report to the Police.
- Any verbal or physical abuse in a public place which
may be classed as a breach of peace.
- Any written abuse in a public place.
- Any distributed material which discloses personal
- Unwanted telephone calls, text messages or emails
which are of a threatening, demanding or persistent behaviour.
- Any damage to your property or belongs caused by a
third party, this includes theft.
- Persistent Loitering.
The police can arrest and charge an individual for
harassment. Perpetrators can go to court and be imprisoned. They can have
restraining orders placed upon them.
Dealing with the effects of
We can take steps to reduce the levels of harassment. We
can change our email addresses, telephone numbers, move house, change job.
These measures that can be taken range from easily done to major change.
But we must also overcome the emotional and
psychological effects of harassment.
Harassment means any comment or behaviour that is
unwelcome, offensive, demeaning, humiliating, derogatory, or is otherwise
inappropriate or fails to respect the dignity of an individual.
When you find yourself a victim of any of this kind of
behaviour, it can knock your self confidence, self esteem and personal
What are the effects of harassment?
- You may find yourself feeling awkward in places where
previously you felt totally at ease.
- You may find yourself constantly looking over your
shoulder, being more on edge or anxious than normal.
- You may find yourself dreading certain days, events,
or even may find yourself feeling nauseous about going to work every
- You may find yourself fearful of answering the phone,
jumping every time it rings.
- You may find yourself afraid or cautious about
picking up your email or post.
- You may start worrying about what other people are
thinking about you.
- You may start to worry that you are to blame, that
it's somehow YOUR fault that you are being given this attention.
- You may be fearful that threats may be carried out.
- You may start doubting yourself and your abilities.
- You may hate to be alone
These effects may strengthen and weaken. Some days
you'll feel stronger than others. You'll feel better on days when the
likelihood of repeat behaviour are low, and worse on days when the
likelihood of additional behaviour is high.
Clarifying how you feel.
It is important to try to be aware which aspects of YOU
have been effected by the harassment. Only when you can identify the
effects can you take truly positive steps towards overcoming them.
- Does it make you feel unsafe?
- Does it make you feel guilty, even when you know you
- Do you worry about how others will see you
- Do you feel ashamed of something?
- Do you feel angry?
- Do you feel hurt?
- Do you feel betrayed or lied to?
- Do you feel stupid?
- Do you feel afraid to go to work?
- Do you feel afraid to socialise?
- Do you feel afraid to leave the house?
- Do you feel unable to do your job properly?
- Do you feel tired of the annoyances?
- Do you wish the perpetrator would just find something better to do?
- Has it changed how you feel about yourself/your work/others
- Has it changed your ability to cope?
- Do you feel humiliated?
- Do you feel offended?
If you answer Yes to any of the above questions, it is a
good exercise to then go back and expand on WHY the incident's have
changed how you feel, and specify exactly why you feel angry or sad. Then
look logically at what YOU need to do in order to feel safe, confident and
in balance again.
Often thoughts fly through our minds with such speed
that we feel a huge amount of different emotions to events and it really
can be beneficial to sit down and clarify each of those thoughts and
feelings in turn.
Being blamed for harassment
If you find yourself being wrongly accused of
harassment, this too can be a traumatic experience.
It is likely that the person accusing you of the
harassment has experienced something which has angered them to the point
of wanting some kind of revenge.
Remember: They will need some kind of evidence of the
harassment, and if you can keep all copies of communications that will
help too. Phone companies and Internet Service Providers can provide
information on emails and recipients and will provide this information if
required to do so by law.