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Harassment: What Is It?

  • Published:
    21 June 2022
  • Updated:
    15 March 2024

In this article, we've tried to describe the essence of this phenomenon in simple terms.

Explaining Harassment in Simple Terms

Definitions of harassment differ depending on the region of the world:

  • Workplace discrimination (USA).
  • Violation of a person's dignity both in the work context and in their private life (Europe).
  • Sexual harassment (CIS countries).

Regardless of culture, the UN's official description of psychological harassment refers to any unwelcome behavior that creates a hostile environment, degrades someone’s dignity, frightens, or negatively affects him or her. Psychologically, harassment is not associated with the fulfillment of someone's sexual needs, but with a demonstration of power, and domination.

Most Common Forms of Harassment

Harassment can manifest both online and offline. Some of the most common forms of harassment include:

  • Verbal (comments, humiliating remarks).
  • Non-verbal (obscene pictures, images, memes, offensive sounds, whistling and obscene signs).
  • Physical (excessive approach to the individual, touching the body, hair, or clothes, stalking, kissing, assaulting).

Who Can Become a Victim?

The person responsible and the victim of harassment may represent any gender or employment status, casual acquaintances as well as partners of a long-term relationship. Typically, harassment implies quite significant, and repetitive actions (several incidents), but it may also be a single instance of serious abuse, such as an offer of intimate action.

Distinguishing Harassment from Flirting

The difference between flirting and harassment is the observation of the basic agreement principle ("a clear yes"). In case, one person not backing up with unwanted advances, but another person instead keeps on trying, it is a neglect of the other person's feelings.

How to Prove Harassment?

In order to prove harassment, you need to back up your complaint to the company’s management or to law enforcement with concrete facts: video recordings, audio recordings, photos, screenshots of social media correspondence, messengers, e-mails, and witness testimonies.

It is important to separate real harassment incidents from manipulations to glorify or reputational blows (phenomena of Cancel сulture). Guilt and appropriate punishment must be determined by a court, not by the mass media.

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