Coping with Harassment

“Any person who, without lawful authority reasonable excuse, by any means including by the use of telephone, harasses another by persistently following, watching, pestering, besetting or communicating with him or her, shall be guilty of an offence.”Non-fatal offences against the person act. 1997

Coping With Harassment
What Can You Do?

Coping with Harassment

Harassment is unwanted pattern of behaviour that can leave you feeling intimidated, scared, annoyed and/or humiliated. It can take many forms such as:

  • rude gestures
  • touching
  • following or watching
  • damage to property and/or vehicles
  • name calling and/or taunting
  • phone calls and voicemails
  • notes and/or letters
  • emails and/or text messages
  • rubbish being thrown on your property
  • loud noise or music from neighbours
  • Tweets, Facebook comments, YouTube videos; and other online posts

A major difficulty is the persistent and on-going nature of the harassment. While any one incident could be regarded as a ‘minor’ event, it is the cumulative effect of living day after day with the behaviours or incidents that really affect most people.

Another difficulty is that there is often no evidence that harassment has taken place, and this means that the Gardaí may find it difficult to take any action, even though you tell them exactly what is happening.

If you are a victim of harassment you may feel:

  • That nobody is taking it seriously, and that something terrible will have to happen before you are really believed
  • That you have no option but to move out of your neighbourhood or leave your workplace
  • Afraid to answer your phone or look at your text messages
  • Afraid to go away from your home in case damage is done while you are away
  • Anxious and afraid any time you leave your home
  • Worried about the effects on your children
  • Afraid that if you report each incident the Gardaí will think you are a nuisance or will not believe you
  • Afraid that if you report the crime the situation may get worse for you

What can you do?

Keep a written record of every incident Write down the time and place of the incident, with as much detail as possible, and note down any person who saw what happened and who may be a witness in any criminal proceedings.

Report the crime to the Gardaí Harassment is a crime. It is important that you report it and that you make a statement to the Gardaí about what is happening. Each incident should be reported to the Gardaí. If an incident is serious it should be reported immediately to the Gardaí.

Consider mediation Especially if it is harassment in your neighbourhood, this non-confrontational approach may provide the best outcome for you. Mediation is a confidential service that offers an alternative method for parties involved in a dispute to resolve their issues and reach an agreement which is acceptable to both sides. However, mediation is not always possible and not advisable in some situations. If you think mediation might be an option for your situation, please contact the Crime Victims Helpline for more information.

Keep all texts, voicemails, emails or screenshots of social media comments, as they will be useful in any investigation that may take place.

Contact your telephone service provider for advice if harassment is by telephone. Each provider has a policy on dealing with the issue.  It may be possible to block unwanted inbound communications.

If the harassment is via social media, you can report it to the relevant social media organisation. It is possible to block a person from making contact with you on most social media sites.

Consider installing a camera device on your property to provide evidence of harassment, and as a deterrent.  Low cost cameras are now available.

Avoid being drawn into a dispute Do not shout back or retaliate. If you do it is less likely that any case will succeed against the person who is harassing you.

If the harassment is happening in a public authority housing area, ensure that you report it to the County or City Council.

If the harassment is taking place in your workplace you should report it to your employer.

Talk about your feelings with someone you can trust – a family member, a friend, a colleague. Going through this experience is very difficult and it is important to have as much support as you can

Sometimes it may be helpful to talk to someone who is completely outside the situation. You can call the Crime Victims Helpline at Freephone 116 006. Volunteers can provide emotional support and give information about other services that can help. There may be an organisation in your area which offers free and confidential face to face support to victims of crime.

Enquire about safety measures that can be taken to prevent harassment. You can seek advice from a Garda Crime Prevention Officer. Your local Garda station can supply you with contact details.

If you are very distressed or you find you can no longer continue with normal everyday activities, it may be helpful to see a GP and get medical advice on dealing with the situation. Counselling may be beneficial and can be discussed with your G.P.

Crime Victims Helpline is here to assist with support and information in relation to any issues that arise for you as a victim of crime. You can call us on Freephone 116 006, email us on info@crimevictimshelpline.ie, or text us on 085 133 7711.