How do I report harassment?
Some background, some drama
There are different things you can do if you’re being harassed. Whether to report harassment or not can be a difficult choice. You may feel that what happened to you wasn’t that serious, worry that police won’t believe you or won’t do anything about it, or that, for a variety of reasons, you’ll face more harassment by engaging police than by just getting on with your life.
Do’s and Don’ts
It’s important to share and report harassment. Keeping quiet will only give credence to the crime and the harasser. The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts to guide and help you to report harassment.
- Document everything. Keep records of the harassment. This way you will have evidence if you do choose to talk to the administration or the police.
- Find spaces where you feel safe where you don’t have to worry about running into the harasser.
- Built a support network and surround yourself with positive people who want to support you. You don’t have to deal with this by yourself and it is okay to ask for help.
- Talk to a counsellor. Dealing with harassment can be very hard and it can be useful to talk to someone who can help you deal with the impact of what happened.
- Report the incident(s) to the police. Contact help centres to learn about bringing an advocate with you and what to expect.
- Don’t refer to abuse as an affair or a sex scandal or in any way that implies consent.
- Don’t downplay the severity of this crime; the long-term effects of which can be devastating.
- Don’t assume that you are alone; often it takes one person coming forward for others to share like experiences.
- Don’t let people blame you. It is not your fault. The abuser is solely responsible for this crime.
- Don’t hesitate to source experts in the field, such as advocates, lawyers and psychologists.
- Don’t use ambiguous or minimizing language when reporting the crime. Clarity and transparency will allow people to help adequately.
Reporting harassment can give you a sense of justice and empowerment. Further, it may prevent future acts of harassment or more severe crimes. It can help raise awareness about how upsetting and inappropriate harassment really is. It’s important to stand up to the harasser, so that you can move on and start your healing process.