In psychology, harassment has been classified into different categories , each type corresponds to a type of damage towards the affected person. In other words, harassment is a type of violence that tends to go unnoticed due to its complexity. Understanding that it is an emotional damage that surpasses the barrier of the physical attack, then as a result there will be a damage that arises from the verbal attack or also from indifference.

Annually, according to statistics, there has been an increase in cases of this type, but it must also be considered that it is a situation that is not always reported or made public. So these estimates might not accurately show the large number of victims who have suffered the consequences of bullying.

One of the most important typologies is called psychological or emotional abuse . The people affected can be any age, even children can not escape; however, the majority are adults between the ages of 20 and 60. This means that there is a wide margin, which is why it becomes a problem that belongs to society as such.

What is psychological harassment?

Psychological abuse is defined as a systematic behavior generated to cause emotional damage to the selected victim . It has multiple consequences, the most important of which is related to emotional balance; which is affected in the long term. Whoever exercises this type of damage has behaviors such as intimidation and devaluation of the victim.

This is one of the most difficult conditions to identify, it can even go unnoticed by those around the affected person. Any type of humiliation that allows abuse or cause emotional damage qualifies as psychological harassment. But it can also be accompanied by physical attacks, it can be at the body level or causing damage to personal use goods.

The aggressor to achieve his objective can resort to any action such as: insults, humiliations, yelling , use of nicknames, spreading rumors and gossip; encompasses a wide variety of types of verbal violence . But it must also be taken into consideration that behaviors such as indifference or remaining silent in the presence of the victim; all are part of this type of harassment.

The consequences and emotional wounds left by this type of violence are long-term. It results in the suffering of multiple psychological problems , in some cases it may be possible to successfully treat the victim. The application of specially designed treatments for each case is the best option. However, it should be taken into account that some patients may face greater difficulties to overcome the conditions developed, especially after a long period of harassment.

What are their characteristics? 

Psychological abuse has several characteristics typical of these offensive episodes in which the victim is verbally attacked, but it can also suffer from manipulation and constant criticism .

An unequal relationship is maintained between the victim and the perpetrator, it can be seen that the aggressor exercises power and a position of superiority from which he benefits. Several salient aspects regarding the aggressor’s profile are mentioned below:

  • Ridicule and put the victim in a critical situation by constantly humiliating them. 
  • You can insult and also devalue by mentioning sarcastic comments regarding physical appearance, abilities , interests, tastes, and any other topic that is relevant to the victim. The aggressor is able to identify which are the most important aspects that could be used against him.
  • Take any action that limits or ignores the victim’s opinions, suggestions, ideas, or feelings.
  • In an obvious way, it can be seen that the perpetrator exercises domination or control over the victim. In this way he manages to manipulate her to carry out any order that is dictated to him.
  • It usually shows inappropriate behavior that can manifest itself on a physical or verbal level. In other words, their behavior shows a lack of respect and consideration for the needs of others.
  • Disregard the aspirations and achievements that belong to the person attacked. They will show disapproval and make derogatory comments. They are not capable of assuming the mistakes they are making, they cannot be expected to voluntarily apologize or stop committing these acts. Faced with all the aforementioned actions, the aggressor expresses satisfaction in performing them. These people have little empathy and respect for others, so they will not be considerate when asked to stop.

Regarding the profile of the victim, these people when suffering from psychological violence will manifest various types of mental conditions, in some cases they are easy to identify. However, it is important to mention that these individuals may feel guilty or responsible for this abusive situation. It is common for victims to feel slighted and insulted, consider that they are deserving of these mistreatments.

The abuse has as a consequence the eventual development of some psychological conditions that reflect their vulnerability when trying to establish social relationships. For this reason, it is important to use any method that allows to help and strengthen these individuals, so that they are able to defend themselves; and they could even prevent living such a situation again. Some relevant aspects of the victim’s profile are mentioned below :

  • They tend to have problems related to low self-esteem . This condition makes them more prone to mobbing.
  • They are individuals totally incapable of successfully coping with problematic situations. Therefore, in some cases they may not resort to asking for help due to this characteristic.
  • They manifest dependence when trying to make decisions for themselves. The people they trust are the ones they turn to in these cases, the lack of independence can be clearly seen . 
  • Also emotional dependency is part of his personality , also their communication is passive so they will not react quickly to prevent further attacks.
  • They are people who can be manipulated and find it difficult to refuse to perform actions with which they would feel uncomfortable. They are prone to not defending their own rights and can easily be forced to take decisions or actions against their will.

How is bullying identified in 5 steps?

To identify psychological harassment, attention must be paid to the different scenarios that may arise. The relationship between the aggressor and the victim can occur in different ways. It has been proven that most of the registered cases occur in relationships; followed by school and work relationships.

Another factor, which is not decisive, however, considers that statistically there are a greater number of male aggressors . However, mutual harassment between men and women happens at equal rates, thus maintaining the same probabilities.

The most important thing to take into consideration when trying to identify this type of bullying is to pay attention to the most prominent signs that can be observed in social relationships. That is, even people outside these situations can see that those involved maintain an unhealthy relationship. Actions such as threats , verbal offenses criticism, intimidation and other practices that allow the victims to be manipulated and humiliated are outstanding .

The following are the main signs of bullying that occur in most cases. These indicators can be very helpful for those who want to help victims or mediate to prevent it from happening further. They are as follows:

1 Public humiliations 

In some cases, this type of harassment happens privately, so only the people directly involved are those who are aware of the situation. However, as the events unfold, the attacker will begin to humiliate and ridicule the victim in public. Being aware of the damage that you are applying, you will manifest a certain satisfaction and therefore will continue to do so.

2 Humiliations and attacks through the network 

This type of harassment has found different ways of manifesting itself, any means that allows to violate the mental state of the victim will be used. A new tactic of those who carry out this type of action consists of the use of new technologies. A type of harassment is obtained that combines psychological abuse with cyberbullying, so the victim will feel constantly watched and harassed. 

It is also important to mention that this type of action is intended to make the victim suffer from a social point of view. That is, the perpetrator decides that other people connected to the network are aware of this situation. It is convenient to show the aggressions allowing free access messages , photographs, audios and videos can be used. They can be manipulated in a way that shows content that hurts or damages the mental integrity of the victim.

3 Gossip

Bullies often make public information that is not true or that is adulterated, in order to damage the reputation of the victim . The use of gossip or rumors are some of the most used methods during cases of psychological harassment. Victims can be accused without reason of actions for which they are not responsible, they can be identified as the culprits of certain events that would put them in a delicate situation on a social level.

4 Threats 

Threats are another common method that can also be combined with physical violence. These situations are frequent when the aggressor has decided that he is not satisfied enough to violate the psychological stability of the victim. In this way, constant threats are made, which may have the objective of damaging the physical integrity as well as all the material assets that belong to the victim. In the most serious cases, the stalker could threaten family and friends .

5 Devaluation or being ignored 

It is clear that victims suffer from being treated differently from others. This type of harassment generates a wide variety of aggressions that violate the victim’s self – esteem , one of the ways to do it is by despising or not taking into account the opinions or needs of the harassed.

Another way to identify it is to notice that an individual is being isolated from the group , he will be suffering a different treatment that puts him in an obviously disadvantaged situation. The harasser could get other people to turn against him, the objective of these actions is to damage the dignity and reputation, in order that people move away from the victim.

How to stop it?

It is difficult to determine the best way to act in cases of harassment of this type. It is always important to take into account all the factors that have intervened and favored this situation. So it turns out to be a long process that could eventually affect the victim in the long term. He or she might need psychological help permanently.

The first step is to acknowledge the facts and also to point out when the harasser has been doing the harm. You must accept responsibility for the events and if possible try to repair the damage caused. Although this is a step that will likely be difficult to accomplish, the most important thing is to intervene to get them away from the victim and thus stop the abuse.

Both the bullies and the victims must break the bond that binds them . To regain self-esteem, psychological help will be of vital importance for both parties, it must also be reiterated that the victim is not guilty under any circumstances of this situation.

It is usual for those who have suffered from this type of harassment to feel guilty, which prevents them from being able to make objective decisions that allow them to find solutions. The help of family members and trusted people will be decisive during the recovery process.

It is recommended to seek psychological help and to apply medical treatments that are adapted to the needs of the victim. In addition, the perpetrator could also require the same help because it is considered that he is also experiencing consequences that affect him emotionally.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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