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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 contract.

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.

Reporting harassment.

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 otherwise.

So the sooner you make the report, the sooner you can be protected.

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 information.
  • 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 harassment.

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 safety.

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 day.
  • 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 are not.
  • 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.

Further Reading

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