Harassment refers to when someone has an unpleasant behavior that can be physical or psychological through inappropriate remarks, sexual comments, or physical advances in different situations. The harasser can be male or female, although a male harasser is more common. The harasser can be a stranger, friend, family member, coworker, supervisor, co-worker, client, or customer. Sexual harassment can happen outside the workplace and work-related, such as in hotels, conference centers, nightclubs, and taxis. Sexual harassment can be verbal, non-verbal, or physical.
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Being continuously harassed can have a lasting impact on a person’s mental state, not only in the place of harassment but also in other areas. Some of the psychological struggles a harassed person goes through include:
- Self-doubt and blame
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling powerless
- Insomnia (inability to sleep) and, nightmares
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
In addition to internal mental struggle, a person might also deal with the backlash from coworkers or others through gossip, false perceptions, judgment, disbelief, and more. This is especially the case when the harasser is a beloved or respected figure, and the general public won’t accept the victim’s story. Some victims might feel confused, scared, or lonely, while others feel upset and disappointed in those who support the harasser. If a victim is in this situation, one of the best ways to help themselves is to leave this environment or minimize contact and seek help or comfort, either from a loved one or a licensed therapist.
Assault is also referred to as sexual abuse or violence, it occurs when you don’t consent to any type of sexual activity, but the other person isn’t willing to stop. It is any sexual activity or attention from one person that is unwelcome by the other. This includes rape, revealing (naked) themselves to you, or making you see sexual images. Sexual assault is committed by anyone but is usually by someone familiar, like a friend, coworker, partner, relative, etc. Legal definitions of sexual assault differ from country to country so make sure you know the details in your country of residence. Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or physical.
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In some cases, women don’t ever speak up about their experiences for fear of being judged, not believed, shamed, or outcasted. They continue their lives as if nothing happened, but in fact, it’s affecting their mental state in the way they think about the person who assaulted them or anyone who merely resembles them, their views of their surrounding, thoughts on safety, and many more. This can become a severe trauma or mental issue if not properly addressed. In some sexual assault cases, victims might change how they look and act out of fear of not wanting to experience the assault again. Some might even go as far as blaming themselves for the situation, which is false. Victims have a range of mental struggles they go through, such as:
- Chronis stress
- PTSD and flashbacks
- Issues sleeping such as constant nightmares
- Eating disorders, eating too much or too little
- Substance abuse
- Shame and guilt
- Self-doubt and blame
There have been multiple reports and evidence that sexual assault isn’t based on how a person dresses. Women have long been taught that dressing a certain way will earn them ‘respect’ or help them avoid being sexually assaulted. Arguments are arising that the attackers are the ones who need to change their way of thinking because it doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing. If the assaulter wants to attack, they will go despite the woman’s clothing. It is up to society to clearly state what’s right and wrong from a young age, avoiding any need for assault. To enforce the laws on assault and punish the attackers. To create a safe environment for women to speak up and more.
Informed consent is when someone asks for permission to do something or for something to happen with a complete understanding of all the necessary outcomes or risks. This refers to various situations in your life, such as romantic relationships, family relationships, medical care, legal issues, and more. If someone acts in a certain way that the other person has given consent to could lead to legal implications or injuries (for medical consent). Consent is invalid if the giver isn’t informed about all the details and later suffers from the consequences.
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When someone violets a person’s boundaries, it causes several emotions that can develop into short and long-term issues such as:
- Lack of trust
- Lowered self-esteem
- Relationship issues
It is essential to understand that the “yes” cannot be coerced. It has to be willingly given without doubts and can be reversible. In addition, the person giving the consent needs to understand fully what they are consenting to.
A toxic relationship is when people don’t communicate healthily, creating a pattern of negativity and resulting in constant conflict. This can include romantic partners, family members, friends, colleagues, or school peers. Toxic relationships don’t always begin so severely. Sometimes, the first few months or weeks can be delightful and exciting, but the toxic traits emerge through time. A toxic person is someone whose actions and words aggravate your life and make you question yourself negatively.
Most of the time, toxic people are the way they are due to their internal struggles and the type of life they had growing up. They aren’t willing to deal with their traumas, maybe aren’t even aware of it, and therefore project all their pain and anger onto others. Toxic people might not be bad people; they can also be people who didn’t learn to deal with their issues healthily. These traumas develop over time and can lead to mental or personality disorders such as narcissists, compulsive liars, sociopaths, manipulators, victim mentality (constant self-pity and helplessness), and more.
Signs of a toxic person include:
Inconsistent: don’t follow through on commitments, and unpredictable
Constant takers: always need something from you that they can’t or won’t reciprocate
Attracted to drama: thrive in adverse or dramatic circumstances, create or worsen conflict
Self-absorption: have an overly elevated sense of self-interest, need to display or explain their greatness, constantly need to receive affirmations
Self-pity: always believing they’re helpless, require assistance from others when they don’t, guilt others into feeling sorry for them
Disrespect: will cross boundaries for as long as they can, will verbally put you down, some cases physical abuse as well
Manipulate: deceitful, constantly lying, twisting the truth (to get pity as well), exaggerating, leaving certain information out, and whatever it takes to get what they want and do not consider the hurt they’re causing others
Substance abuse: turn to alcohol or drugs to avoid difficult situations, which can lead to harming themselves and others
Toxic relationships give way to disrespect and emotional & physical abuse and can be very draining for those involved and people witnessing it. Unresolved issues in the relationship and personal problems can lead to a dangerous buildup of aggression and rage. It can turn into emotional abuse that can escalate to physical abuse.
Emotional abuse can manifest in many ways. One common way is when one person has power or control over the other and gives out psychological and verbal abuse. It can include aggressive verbal communication, threats, silent treatment, gaslighting (tricking you into making you question your memory, perception, or judgment), and isolation from others.
The impacts of a toxic relationship could include:
- Feeling mentally exhausted
- Stress, depression, and anxiety
- Sleep and weight changes
- Poor performance at work or school
- Poor communication with others
- Emotional instability
- Short temper
- Negative self-talk
- Low self-confidence and self-worth
- Developing trust issues
- Being pessimistic
Dealing with toxic people
When dealing with a toxic person it is essential to understand the following points:
Identify the actual reality: sometimes people get absorbed in the toxic person’s reality and not realize the manipulation, such as with victim mentality. You must resist the urge to defend yourself if the toxic person blames you for something you know isn’t true. This will only play into their cause and validate or encourage them to continue to loop you into their trap.
Pay attention to facts: being aware of the situation or the person you’re dealing with can save you a lot of struggle, frustration, and confusion. Instead of getting involved in unnecessary drama & arguments, you will be able to separate their or your emotions from facts and allow you to make sound decisions.
Recognize conditional kindness: sometimes, a toxic person will be very welcoming when they want something and then be the opposite when they don’t get it. For some, this might be confusing and can lead them to blame themselves as if they’ve caused the toxic person before they’re aware of the toxic traits due to a specific action.
Give straight answers: when confronted by a toxic person, always remember to stick to facts and give straight answers. In addition, focus on the solution, not problems, which is usually what the toxic person tends to concentrate on to deflect blame.
If you are in a toxic relationship and the person isn’t willing to fix it by admitting faults and contributing solutions, it’s better to end the relationship. You should always check your mental and emotional state to help you understand the healthiness of your relationship. Having someone you trust to help you assess your situation is essential. No relationship is perfect, but it is crucial to know the signs of toxic relationships to avoid the pain and suffering of being in and out of them. Set boundaries and know what you will and won’t deal with. It is essential to care for your mind to be aware of the signs.