There are few social situations harder to deal with than being the target of harassment. It leaves the person targeted for harassment with very few options and the constancy of having to make very stark choices. The goal of harassment quite often is to extract a person from a situation. The harassers want either to see the person break, or more often to see them leave the situation, and harassment is the vehicle chosen to accomplish their intended goal. It may seem like there must be some way to reason with the people doing the harassing, and given the harassers it could work. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and many times the people doing the harassment either don't see what they are doing for what it is, or don't care.
As a result, often enough, the person treated to harassment has limited choices as to how to handle their predicament. One choice is to leave the situation altogether and essentially quit, and that is actually what most people that are targets of harassment do. In most cases, they just move on. If it's a job that can easily be replaced by simply finding another one, then quitting that may be the best way to go. There are many other situations also where it may be the most hassle free and easy thing to do.
However, that is not always the case. Simply getting up and leaving may not be the best option, easiest choice or really even most realistically doable alternative at all in any practical sense. In such cases, one can choose either to allow the harassment to continue and do nothing, or they can become proactive.
In many institutional settings there are resources or structures in place, there either exclusively for the purposes of dealing with discrimination, harassment, etc, or in others mechanisms within the system in terms of administration a person can lodge a complaint with, also capable of dealing with such issues. The right thing to do is to always file a complaint, however, that isn't always the step that makes the most sense for those intent on staying and trying to make it through the harassment. For those intent on weathering the storm, places that are supposed to be set up to provide shelter institutionally can in reality be places of last resort.
An example of why this might be, could be because filing a report means you are putting up your word against the word of the people responsible for harassing you, and when it's more of them than there are of you, typically that means it's just your word against theirs. The odds simply might not favor the person being harassed in that situation, and things can be made to seem like it's the fault of the person being harassed, though let it be known lodging formal complaints leave records that can be used if further steps, like a court case, are taken. There are alternatives to initial complaints. You don't hear about the alternatives quite often, as most advice is meant to kind of say, “seek help, report it, tell others” or to coddle the target of the harassment like a child with a pat on the head, instead of helping them marshal the steps necessary for soldiering through.
But, what do you do when everybody knows and just turns a blind eye? What do you do when people are afraid to do the right thing and lend a hand? Most people can only do so much, go so far and sacrifice so much of themselves to help others.
At that point, if you have decided to stay put for whatever reason or until whatever goal is reached, then, if you are the victim of the harassment, you need to formulate a plan to defend yourself and stay ahead and safe. This first requires assessing the situation. You need to study the person or persons doing the harassing and evaluate them. Write down your observations if possible, just make sure it isn't written somewhere those doing the harassing can access what you write. Think about those individuals participating in the harassment from all angles. Think of how they were when they started harassing you, and how they changed as time went on.
Ask questions and answer them. They most likely let it be known, one way or another, what they wanted out of the harassment when it started. Did they get what they wanted? Are you closer to doing whatever it is they want in terms of their main goal, or do they appear farther away from reaching it? How has that reality changed what they have done over time? Be honest about this – it's important.
Have they stuck to their originally stated commitment in terms of what they said they want to get out of the harassment, or have they changed and shifted their positions? Have they stayed at the original standard they set, or have they gradually lowered the bar as time went on slowly, fissuring cracking and caving to the pressure your refusal to budge or give in has caused in them?
How has this affected them in their everyday life? How has this affected those around watching the behavior? If there are those that are off and on participants, how has it affected them? Have they seemed to be as enthusiastic or have they grown weary at times and become fed up with the whole thing? When were those times? What happened to cause them to feel that way?
There are strategies they will employ in their attempts to get to you that they will often repeat – maybe with variations at different times in different circumstances, but the overall strategy being the same. Make notes of those. What are the typical steps in terms of those bigger picture strategies? What do they typically do?
Make your own counter plans and strategies to counter these things you list. Try them out, and see what succeeds and what fails. Don't give up, think of the long term rather than the short term. For example, say you plan to stay doing you what you are doing for twenty five years, just to throw out a number, remind yourself that you have time, and that typically their strategies rely on quick fixes and short term planning. That can very easily be used to the advantage of the long term thinker.
For the long term thinker that sticks to their plans and goals, it's time and pressure, not the quick bangs. Those happen immediately, but leave just as fast. Watch the way they implement their strategies and tactics and the way they succeed, or, as you start to catch on, how they fail. How fast does it take for them to wear off? When they start lowering their standards and lowering their bar for what success is, you are beginning to defeat them. Fact. The path to ruining them in that case has already started. Remember, harassers do what they do for no real deep down meaningful reason. However, this also means there is typically no compromise or coming to a sincere point of agreement with such people.
Any time they try to pretend this is the case, if you haven't figured it out, it will typically be a attempt to lull you into a false sense of security. You will probably notice this for yourself. Know what it means to you for them to have truly stopped. Let it be known. Don't make it something ridiculous, make it something easy for them to do that's basically cost free. How long it takes for them to break will just be a matter of how big their ego is and how much they are willing to drag all those around them through, in their vain attempts to assuage their own inner fears and insecurities.
In the end that's what it is. Remember that you didn't start it or want it. They did it all by themselves as all harassers do. Let them leave on their own as all harassers should. Commit to a lifetime, every moment of your life you spend dealing with this. That steadfastness will be your salvation and eventual path to victory. They will slip and reveal the keys to defeating them as time goes on. Just stick with it, if that's what you've resolved to do. It's possible no matter how insurmountable the odds, I know because I did it and won on more than one occasion - with academic precision and honor. Whether you are being harassed for your gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, lifestyle or whatever it may be in your case, it can be overcome. It's your body and your mind. Stick with that and break them from that point of view. Allow them the opportunity to gradually lower their bar for what it means for them to find success, until it's obvious to all watching there's no room to go any lower. At that point they've crumbled for all onlookers to see. It all starts with a list, so make one and good luck!
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.
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