It can take many forms such as:
- rude gestures
- 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 after 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 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
- Concerned that if you report the harassment, the situation may get worse
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 or 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 a 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 support.
- 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.
For more information on what you can do, or if you would like to discuss your experience as a victim of harassment, you can contact the Crime Victims Helpline for free at 116 006.