How do I Report Harassment?

I. Ong

Generally, harassment consists of unwelcome and offensive behavior that undermines an individual through persisting attacks. This negative behavior is calculated to demean, humiliate, or patronize the victim, usually as a play of power by the offender. Harassment is illegal, therefore it should not be tolerated or endured. To report harassment and have effective action taken, evidence must be gathered that this behavior exists or has occurred.

Teachers can be a source of child harassment.
Teachers can be a source of child harassment.

Harassment can come in many forms and may be difficult to recognize. Harassers tend to mask their actions under the pretense of jocularity or mere flirtation, and victims who confront the perpetrators can be accused of reading too much into casual statements. Avoid jumping to conclusions and making accusations before you are certain. A telltale sign of a harasser is that the actions do not stop at a single instance, and will gradually build up a pattern of repetitive behavior that will let you recognize it for what it is. If you are still uncertain, you can also discuss the incidents with eye witnesses that you trust to remain silent, and ask them if they observed the same nuances you did in the harasser's behavior.

School bullies may be a source of harassment.
School bullies may be a source of harassment.

Before you report harassment, first look carefully into the laws or company policies that concern harassment in your area. These will vary depending on the nature of the harassment, as well as the country laws or company policies that cover you. Conduct further research, or consult an attorney if necessary, in order to fully grasp the extent of the laws or policies and if they cover the harassment you are experiencing. Once you have ascertained that the laws or policies do prohibit the actions being inflicted upon you, you can proceed with the next step.

At any workplace, it's essential that all employees feel that any harassment issues will be heard promptly, fairly, and without retaliation.
At any workplace, it's essential that all employees feel that any harassment issues will be heard promptly, fairly, and without retaliation.

Documentation is your primary source of proof in order to properly report harassment. You need to record the time and date of each harassing statement or action, as well as the specific act of harassment itself. Take note of the location it took place, as well as any possible witnesses to this behavior. If there is more than one participant in the instance of harassment, make sure to log each participant's name.

Proof of stalking may need to be gathered to fill out a proper report.
Proof of stalking may need to be gathered to fill out a proper report.

Do not allow yourself to be left alone with the harasser, especially outside of public places. Not only can this contain an element of danger if the harassment is of a sexual nature, it also does you no good if you cannot produce witnesses. Keep people around you at all times to both ward off the worst of the harassment, as well as to be valuable witnesses if the objectionable behavior should persist.

Once you believe you have ample evidence to report harassment, request an appointment with the relevant authorities in order to make an official report. This would be the human resources department or your supervisor if the harassment has been taking place at work, or the local authorities. Keep the documents in a sealed envelope if you are worried about confidentiality, and request a private meeting. Despite the emotional upheaval the harassment may have wrought upon you, remain calm and focused when discussing the report as histrionics may harm your credibility.

When you have filed an official report, allow for a week's processing time and then follow up. If you do not receive proof by then that your report is under investigation, file your case with a higher authority. Time is of essence as your credibility can be damaged by a long delay between the instance of harassment and the time the report was filed. Additionally, eye-witness memories of the incidents may no longer be as fresh in cases that take too long.

Before and after you file your report, maintain a professional demeanor toward the offender. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into situations or conversations that may compromise your credibility. Restrict interaction with the harasser to the minimum necessary, and refrain from using the harassment report as a verbal threat. Certain types of personalities will only take this as a challenge and could be spurred to more extreme behavior.

Harassment is easier to report if there are witnesses.
Harassment is easier to report if there are witnesses.

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Discussion Comments


I have a property rental as an investment with a person (we'll call her Jill). Jill lived close by (on the same street). After Jill became involved in a relationship, she moved out of her unit and into another place. Jill then decided to rent out her former residence that she lived in before getting into the relationship.

This rental unit (we'll say no. 16) is a unit above another unit. On the last sub zero temperature day, one of the feed water line pipes burst in the unit Jill is now renting out, and it totally destroyed a lady's property in the unit below. My heart went out to the lady below and I'm truly hurt for her.

Unfortunately, the woman in the downstairs unit (We'll call her Linda) is now beginning to harass both of us.

Last week Linda took a photo of Jill and me eating together and said "smile for the camera!"). We both ignored her as she took her photo.

Today, I went with Jill to see the damage that was done to her old residence by the water leak. The insurance company gave us an estimate and Jill said four eyes are better than two, so she wanted us to look at the damage together.

Linda, whose unit is being repaired, came on the scene and accused us of entering into her home and threatened to call 911. At first I didn't understand what Linda was saying, but when I did finally understand, I said, "Go ahead and call. Let's do this now.” Linda then said I was threatening her and at least pretended to be calling 911. As I left, she followed and again said something about calling 911. I said, "Call. Call them now.” Linda at least pretended to be talking on the phone and said into the phone that I went into her home and then threatened her. So I had to call 911 to give my side of the story, which is that Jill and I were in Jill's unit to match the insurance estimates for damages and that I would never go into another person's home.

The police came out, but Linda left before they arrived. I explained the details to the officer. Also, I had a witness (the contract worker) who told the officer I never went into Linda's house.

Now I feel threatened. I'm a man, and I feel I am at a disadvantage when a woman tells lies and calls the police. I asked the police what I could do to protect myself. The officer said, never talk to her, never reply to her, and just keep moving if you pass by.

I'm thinking about getting an audio recorder device and wearing it for my protection against false accusations. Is this OK to do or am I breaking another law that I don't know about? What about legal help?


My neighbor across the street from me showed up at my door about two months ago at almost 10 p.m, in hysterics yelling at me in Spanish. The only things I understood were the long line of curse words and not much else.

I was at a complete loss. I have no idea what I have ever done to this woman. I keep asking but she doesn't speak English very well, or she is using language as a means of manipulation, and all I get is that I'm a bad woman and a whole slew of curse words.

I spoke to this woman once when she and her family first moved in for about five minutes because our children were playing together. I thought it was a nice conversation. But I guess she didn't like me.

Since she showed up at my front door, almost every time I go out side she's there yelling at me, taunting me and screaming at me in the middle of the street. It's continuing to get worse. And I have no idea what it's about! What do I do?

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