Harassment: understanding & prevention

4 min read
Louise halimi

Harassment is a pervasive problem in our society, which takes a significant toll on individuals' mental health and well-being. Harassment can be defined as any form of unwanted and unwelcome behavior that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive environment. It can take many forms, including moral harassment and sexual harassment.

Moral harassment is any form of harassment that is not sexual in nature. It can include bullying, intimidation, verbal abuse, and other forms of mistreatment. On the other hand, sexual harassment involves unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Harassment is a global problem, and Europe and the United States are not immune to it. According to a survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in 2014, one in five women in the European Union had experienced some form of sexual harassment. In the United States, a 2018 survey conducted by the American Association of University Women found that 81% of women had experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives.

The victims of harassment can be anyone, regardless of their gender, age, or social status. However, some groups are more likely to be targeted than others. For instance, women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are more likely to experience sexual harassment. According to the same survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 32% of women aged 18-29 had experienced sexual harassment in the previous year. Similarly, a study conducted by the Human Rights Campaign found that 60% of LGBTQIA+ youth had experienced bullying or harassment based on their sexual orientation.

It's important to note that these statistics represent only a fraction of the total incidents of harassment and violence that occur, as many incidents go unreported due to fear, shame, or other reasons. Nonetheless, these statistics highlight the persistent and widespread nature of harassment and the need for continued efforts to prevent and address it.

Harassment can have severe consequences for the mental health and well-being of the victim. It can lead to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health conditions. Victims of harassment may also experience physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and stomach problems.

Fortunately, there are solutions available to help victims of harassment cope with its impact on their health. Seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals can help victims process their experiences and heal from the trauma. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for PTSD and other mental health conditions resulting from harassment.

Prevention is the best solution to avoid harassment. There are several steps that individuals can take to reduce the risk of being harassed, including setting boundaries, speaking up when they feel uncomfortable, and seeking support from their peers or superiors. Employers can also take steps to prevent harassment in the workplace. For example, they can provide training to employees on what constitutes harassment and how to report it. They can also establish clear policies and procedures for handling harassment complaints and create a supportive and inclusive work environment that values diversity and inclusion.

Fighting against harassment is a collective effort that requires the participation of individuals, organizations, and society as a whole. We can all contribute to ending harassment by speaking up when we see it happening and supporting the victims. We can also advocate for policy changes that prioritize the prevention and prosecution of harassment.

Harassment also poses a risk to companies. It can damage their reputation, lead to legal liabilities, and result in decreased employee morale and productivity. Therefore, companies have a vested interest in preventing harassment in the workplace.

In conclusion, harassment is a significant problem that affects individuals, organizations, and society as a whole. It can have severe consequences for the victim's mental health and well-being. However, there are solutions available to prevent, cope with, and fight against harassment. By working together, we can create a safer and more inclusive society where everyone can live and work without fear of harassment.

Photo by @amorfatilover