Handling harassment can be challenging, but there are strategies women can use to protect themselves and respond effectively. Here are some vital tips for women to handle harassment.

SEP 22, 2023

eight steps to handle harassment

“A shocking 81% of women have experienced gender based harassment."

8 Steps to Handle Harassment

Harassment is a distressing experience that can occur in various forms, from verbal abuse and bullying to cyberbullying and workplace harassment. It's essential to remember that you don't have to tolerate it. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into eight crucial steps to empower yourself, address harassment, and seek the support and justice you deserve.

1. Recognize and Acknowledge the Harassment

The initial step in dealing with harassment is recognizing and acknowledging it. If something feels wrong or uncomfortable, trust your instincts. Your feelings are valid, and you have the right to prioritize your safety.

Harassment can manifest in numerous ways, including offensive comments, threats, humiliation, or unwelcome advances. It is crucial to trust your instincts and acknowledge that you are not responsible for the harassment you're experiencing. Understand that what you're going through is real, and it's important to address it.

Verbal harassment and sexual harassment are both forms of unwelcome behavior that can create hostile or uncomfortable environments for individuals, but they differ in their nature and focus:

verbal harassment includes gaslighting bullying and intimidation

Verbal Harassment

Verbal harassment encompasses any form of offensive, abusive, or hurtful language or comments directed at someone based on their race, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other characteristic. It can occur in various settings, such as the workplace, schools, or public spaces.

Verbal harassment may include intimidation, gaslighting, insults, derogatory remarks, offensive jokes, name-calling, slurs, or threats. The focus of verbal harassment is on the use of language to demean, humiliate, or intimidate the target. It doesn't necessarily have a sexual aspect. 

sexual harassment by authority figure

Sexual Harassment:

Sexual harassment is a subset of harassment that involves unwelcome sexual advances, comments, or behaviors that create a hostile or uncomfortable environment for the victim. It is typically based on a person's gender or sexual characteristics.

Sexual harassment can take many forms, including unwanted sexual comments, requests for sexual favors, sexual innuendos, unwelcome touching, lewd jokes, or the display of explicit material.

The key element of sexual harassment is that it has a sexual nature or focus, and it often involves the misuse of power or authority, such as by a supervisor or someone in a position of authority.

set clear boundaries to address harassment

2. Document Everything

To build a strong case and maintain a clear record of the harassment, it's essential to document each incident meticulously. Create a detailed log that includes dates, times, locations, names of the harasser(s), and any witnesses present.

Additionally, keep copies of any written or electronic evidence, such as text messages, emails, or social media interactions. This documentation will be invaluable if you decide to take legal action or report the harassment to authorities.

3. Set Clear Boundaries

In some cases, individuals may not be aware that their behavior is causing harm. Politely but assertively communicate your boundaries to the harasser. Let them know that their actions or comments are unwelcome and that you expect them to stop immediately.

Sometimes, this open and direct approach can effectively resolve the issue by making the harasser aware of the impact of their actions and consequences that will come if the behavior does not stop.

document details of harassment incident

4. Seek Support from Trusted Individuals

Harassment can be isolating, so don't hesitate to reach out to friends, family members, or colleagues you trust and confide in them about your experiences. Their support can provide emotional comfort and practical advice. Talking to someone you trust can also help you process your feelings and regain a sense of control over the situation.

“Statistics show up to 81% of victims don't report workplace harassment.”

5. Report the Harassment

If setting boundaries does not deter the harasser or if the harassment continues or escalates, consider reporting it to the relevant authorities or organizations. Depending on the context, this could involve contacting your workplace's Human Resources department, your school's administration, or law enforcement agencies. Be sure to provide them with the comprehensive documentation you've gathered to substantiate your case.

report harassment to human resources

6. Consult with Legal Experts

If internal reporting mechanisms fail to resolve the issue or if the harassment intensifies, consult an attorney experienced in harassment cases. Legal professionals can help you understand your rights and the available legal options. Depending on the circumstances, this may include filing a lawsuit against the harasser or their employer.

7. Prioritize Your Well-Being

Harassment can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. Prioritize self-care by engaging in activities that help you relax and reduce stress. Consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor who specializes in trauma and can provide you with guidance and coping strategies to navigate the emotional challenges that arise from harassment.

bullying is a form of verbal harassment

8. Join a Support Group

Consider connecting with a support group or community organization that focuses on helping individuals who have experienced harassment or discrimination. Joining such a group can be empowering, providing you with a sense of solidarity and a platform to share your experiences, insights, and coping strategies with others who have gone through similar challenges.

Addressing harassment can be challenging and even feel awkward, but it's crucial to take action to protect yourself and seek justice. By recognizing the harassment, meticulously documenting incidents, setting clear boundaries, seeking support, and, when necessary, consulting with legal experts, you can empower yourself to stand up against harassment.

seek support groups for harassment

In summary, the primary difference between verbal harassment and sexual harassment lies in their focus and content. Verbal harassment is more general and can involve offensive language or insults without a sexual component, while sexual harassment involves unwanted sexual advances, comments, or behaviors that specifically target a person's gender or sexual characteristics.

Both types of harassment are harmful and can have serious emotional, psychological, and legal consequences. It is important to recognize and address both forms of harassment to create safe and respectful environments for everyone.

Your safety and well-being are top priorities. Choose the response that feels safest for you in each situation. If you're facing ongoing harassment or feel threatened, don't hesitate to involve the appropriate authorities or organizations that can help you address the situation effectively.

Remember that you are not alone, and there is a network of resources and support available to help you navigate this difficult journey. Ultimately, your efforts can contribute to creating a safer and more respectful environment for yourself and others.

Defense Divas® wants you to be equipped to defend yourself not only with a self-defense weapon, but also with the practical knowledge of safety awareness and prevention.

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