Harassment makes you you feel angry. You feel justified anger about being treated in such an unhumane way. You may feel rage at the situation that you are in. Prisoners in unfair conditions often experience the same anger. Thoughts of revenge or violence against your harassers is not uncommon. A desire to make them feel what you are feeling, to let them know the pain and suffering you are experiencing is normal.
The first stage of harassment is shock and then denial. You You absolutely do not believe that you are being singled out for such behaviour, or that the situation is happening to you. You also do not believe that so many people could be so heartless, and to fail to understand what you are going through. It is complete denial, not because you want to deny the situation is happening, but because you cant believe that its happening to you.
Before the harrassment you may have been a fully in control person, who was cared for and even respected. You can not believe that people would treat you in such a inhumane and degrading way. You cant believe its happening because you should know how to handle the situation, you should know how to take care of yourself.
Some victims of harassment blame themselves for the harassment, or think if they just do this or that differently it will stop andd go away.Harassment makes you feel powerless, it makes you feel that the control of your circumstances and your surroundings have been take away from you. Some victims blame themselves for not confronting the harasser(s). Where rape is a physical assault on your person, harassment is a psychological and emotional assault. Many rape victims can not believe what is happening, the same way many harassment victims can not believe what is happening.
Harassment makes you feel degraded. Victims of harassment often feel demeaned, debased, devalued, degraded, humiliated and embarassed. Harassment is all about bringing you to your knees, not in the physical, but in the emotional. Most harassers know what they are doing. They are out to take away who you are, they want to rape and violate you on an emotional and psychological level. They want to make you feel weak and vulnerable, which starts by degrading you. Harassers will tell lies, make up rumours, defame your character, try to make you seem crazy, unstable or even incompetent to do your job. Putting you into degrading situations, saying embarassing things to you, or doing humiliating things to you. This is the first step in breaking you down. Prisoner of war camps also use such methods on captives.
When you are being harassed it causes you to wonder why you have been singled out for the harassment. Harassed persons often feel that they should be able to handle the situation or find a suitable solutiion to the harassment. When an harassed individual realises that the situation is spiralling out of control or that their normal coping mechanisms are not suitable for the situation, it can cause a great deal of doubt.
Being harassed can not only cause you to doubt yourself, but it can cause you to doubt those around you. The people that you once thought were your friends, family, or the people who normally support you, you may find they are not who you thought they were. The institutions that were there to protect you and keep you safe fail you, even the legal system might be called into doubt. You might even find that you have doubt in God, or your normal spritual mechanisms. Harassment can cause you to doubt and disbelieve everything you once thought you knew, including yourself.
Harassment has serious economic effects including: losing or quitting your job; demotion, quitting school (which has future economic conseuences); absenteeism; payment of legal fees or medical or consulting fees, it can affect your credit if your job loss causes you to fall behind on your bill payments or on your morgage. loss of credit can cause future difficulties as your record can take years to clear.
If you think that any of your actions contributed to the harassment you might feel deep guilt at having brought the circumstances on yourself. You might blame yourself and say if only I had not. If only I had reacted this way. Feeling guilty and blaming yourself only gives the harasser power. The harasser has an equal responsibility to cease and desist the moment you make it clear the words, behaviours or actions are amking you uncomfortable, or they are unwelcome. Blaming yourself and feeling guily will only go so far, then you have to move on.
Depending on the form of harassment you are experiencing the situaiton can leave you feeling isolated. You may not feel comfortable talking to family and friends. If the harassment is happening at school, at work and in your environment, you may wish to keep the situation minimalised by not sharing what is going on. If you are the only person experiencing the harassment, you might feel that no one will really understand what you are going through or believe you. You might have lost your ability to trust others early on based on their reactions.
Loss of Trust
Harassment undermines your ability to trust others, and even trust yourself sometimes. This inability to trust then has current and future repercussions. Trust is lost when a harassed individual fails to recieve support, affirmation, justice or even help to get the harassment stopped. Loss of trust can be geared towards individuals in the situation, the institutions themselves or even the society at large.
Harassment also undermines your ability to trust because so many aspects of being harassed are similar to being victimised or raped. This makes it hard to trust people again in the same way. This can lead to victims becoming further victims by internalising the experience, and isolating themselves from legitimate sources of support.
Need for Validation of Your Experience
There are three validation needs when you are harassed. You need to be believed, understood, and have the exerience validated. You want someone to confirm that yes, the situation you experienced was that bad, and that it did have a deep effect on you. When you are physically raped people can understand your pain and suffering, but when you are harassed they play down or undervalue the experience and the effects it had on you. Individuals have a tendancy to see it as over-reacting, or not really that bad. They want you to just let go and just get past it, but you cant, and you dont want to, because it was that bad. You want the severity of the experience to be validated for what it was.
Harassment victims live in fear of many things, but the main things seems to be the fear of not being believed or fully understood. You just dont think you will be able to find the right words to articulate how the experience made you feel. The last thing you want to do is share this experience thats impacted your life, with someone who undervalues or does not understand what you have been through. You dont want to see that lack of understanding in their eyes, or hear the devaluing of your experience in their words.
You want to share your story, and you long to tell your tale. You however want a safe effective format where you will be believed. You have a deep unabiding emotional need to be understood. You need someone to understand that it really was that degrading and horrible. This this just tore you apart and almost destroyed you. You need validation and understanding, its whats at the heart of this experience.
Harassment can and often causes a wide range of physical symptoms. It can cause stomach ailments, headaches, insomnia, lethargy, nausea, constant nervousness, poor appetite, over eating, weight loss, weight gain and other physical symptoms.
The main area that harassment affects is our psyche, and because of this there are several psychological symptoms that go along with being harassed.
Short term memory and loss of concentration. Decreased work performance and general productivty. Anti-social behaviours, anger or violent actions that are outside of your normal realm before the harassment began. Thoughts of suicide and extreme depression, uncontrolled crying, hyper-vigilance, hyper-awareness, hyper-sensitivity, irritability, short tempered, swearing and cursing more than normally accustomed to. Loss of sex drive. Extreme thoughts or rage. Loss of interest in usual pastimes. Stressed, feeling worthless, feeling guiltty, feeling angry, psychologically and emotionally raped.
Harassment can make you a social outcast. If you do nothing about the harassment those around you might sympathise, but they will in time learn to ignore it and treat it as a common day to day occurrence. If you take action against the harasser, school, government or place of employment, you might find that you are ostriacized, retailiated against in many unfair ways. Socially you might not be invited out to group or social activities, you might be shunned during daily school or work place events. People who associate with you will be singled out with peer pressure to stop the association. People around you will tell the most demeaning and degrading lies about you. You might find that your family and friends think you are over acting and fail to offer support at any level. They may even be the very ones who turn against you, if they become affected by the harassment through your job loss or dropping out of school etc. They may be angry at having to help you out.
While being harassed you might find that you experience a spiritual crisis. You get really angry spiritually and start to feel dead inside. You dont feel in touch with your spirit. There is a disconnection that goes along with being harassed. You might find that spiritually you stop or cease to do things you normally would do to touch base with your higher self, or a higher external spiritual source.
To numb the pain of dealing with harassment some people do turn to drugs, alcohol or medication. This is then one more thing individuals then have to deal with as part of their recovery process.
Harassment can be emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychologically taxing. To handle the pain and degradation our coping methods kick in, and we start to tune out the harassment. We however do not just tune out the harassment, we often tune out our school work, work, projects and work that we should be doing gets neglected. Social events that we should be attending start to be missed. Things that you had an interest in before start to be less desirable. You just start to shut down and tune out the things that you once loved.