How do I deal with harassment?

Some background, some drama

There is no one “right" way to deal with harassers who behave in a way which makes you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened. Harassment can include violence, threats, abuse and damage to property as well as verbal abuse and name calling, offensive graffiti or posts and can be received via text message, emails or social networking sites. Harassment is a criminal offence. Report it, seek help and protect yourself.

Do’s and Don’ts

Tell someone if you are being harassed or know someone who is and if it is because of disability, gender identity, race, religion or sexual orientation. Don't be afraid to tell someone and suffer in silence. Contact a support organisation who can offer you advice and support.

The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts to guide and help you to deal with harassment.

Do’s

  • Name the behaviour and state that it is wrong. Make it clear that you consider the behaviour as harassment.
  • Tell the person to stop contacting you. If the person continues the bad behaviour, it might be time to break off contact.
  • Stop answering the person's calls, emails and other messages.
  • Delete the person from your phone and social media accounts.
  • Keep records of the harassment.
  • Talk to the administration at your school or workplace.
  • Learn self-defense techniques.
  • If situation demands call the police and get a restraining order.
  • Tell your friends and family what's going on for your safety. Going through this experience alone is dangerous, both physically and emotionally.

Dont’s

  • Don’t apologize for calling out the harassment or else the person might not get the message. Don't couch the accusation in sweet, friendly terms.
  • Don’t get into a dialogue with the harasser, try to reason with them or answer their questions. You do not need to respond to diversions, questions and threats, blaming or guilt-tripping. Stay on your own agenda. Stick to your point.
  • Don't publicize your location and daily habits on social media. Even if you deleted the harasser from your accounts, he or she might have a way of checking them through someone else's account.
  • Don't publicly say that you're going out of town or that you'll be alone for a certain amount of time.
  • Don’t attack the person, only his behaviour. Avoid cursing, name-calling, put downs and other actions that may escalate the situation unnecessarily.

Last words

Not everyone will experience bullying or harassment at home, at work, in education or in their social time. If it does happen, it is important you tell someone. If you do not think you can tell anyone you know, you can tell someone by using a self-reporting form or by reporting online. Every report is taken seriously and could help to stop you and others, suffering from harassment.

Sources and citations