To this day, we still (and unfortunately) see cases of psychological harassment, especially in two areas: among young people, and in couples and families. We could also talk about bullying, but we have already told you everything you need to know about it on our blog.

Generally, psychological harassment begins with “jokes”, but ends in something very serious. The victim, at first, usually does not know how to react, since he or she is confused: in this type of harassment, the messages are > subliminal and not direct. The second phase that the victim goes through is to blame himself, assuming that if his aggressor is harassing him, There must be some reason for it. In this process, the harassment gradually intensifies. Once the victim tries to ask for help, or explodes (perhaps through anger or crying), the aggressor takes advantage of the situation to take control of the victim. >allies in her environment, with the purpose of isolating her. In the end, the victim ends up feeling helpless. while the harasser continues to exercise her own behaviors.

What is psychological harassment?

By definition, psychological harassment is a set of abusive behaviors, which are also intentional. These behaviors can occur in the form of acts, words, writings or even gestures. Its objective is to damage the identity, dignity or psychological integrity of a person.

Psychological harassment can appear in any relationship between two or more people, and can be exercised by one or more of them. However, it is very easy for it to not be given importance or for it to go unnoticed by anyone who is not a victim of it, since it is much less visible than physical damage.

How does this harassment occur?

There are endless ways to harass the victim, but perhaps the most common are:

  • Disqualifications and discredits, especially through non-verbal messages.
  • Rejection of direct communication with the victim, so that the conflict cannot be resolved, and thus, the victim feels guilty.
  • Isolation of the victim, ignoring them or “ignoring them.”
  • Make fun of her insecurities or “ weak points ”, ideas, convictions, etc.
  • Ridiculing the victim in public, or making untrue or unpleasant allusions.

How do I know if I am being harassed?

It is very likely that, especially in the beginning, it will be difficult to determine if someone is psychologically harassing you or if they simply have a rather mocking personality type. >, and you could be exaggerating (which, in turn, already involves a certain degree of harassment).

To help you, there are a series of signs from the aggressor that indicate that this harassment is occurring:

  • He constantly points out your defects and despises you. Also silence or ignore your opinion.
  • It humiliates you, whether publicly, through social networks, at work or classes…
  • These types of comments and actions cause you discomfort, and also lower your self-esteem.
  • They accus you for things of which you are not guilty, sometimes even becoming fully aware that you are not.< /li>
  • Their behavior is not the same constantly. Sometimes the aggressor can be affectionate and pleasant, with you or with other people.
  • He treats you differently from the rest: by this, we mean that he tries to isolate you or turn people against you. li>
  • Constantly use mockery, sarcasm and irony when dealing with you.
  • All their behaviors are constant, not punctual. You’ve probably been thinking about whether he’s stalking you or not for a while.
  • You can use blackmail. “If you do this, be aware of the consequences”, “If you don’t come this time, we won’t call you later”, “If you go on a trip, something will surely happen to your father and you won’t be there”.

Consequences of psychological harassment

There are two main sides of consequences as a result of psychological harassment: one of them is physical disorders, and the other is emotional problems.

Among the physical disorders we can mainly find the continuous stress that the victim suffers. Stress works in the long term, and can cause psychosomatic disorders, such as migraines, problems in the digestive system strong> or muscle problems.

When talking about psychological and/or emotional problems, we must focus on depression without a doubt. However, we also highlight loss of self-esteem and anxiety disorders, and even panic attacks. Another disorder that we could talk about would be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, for example.

It is also common for the victim to try to resort to conflictive solutions in order to alleviate their suffering. For example, the consumption of addictive substances (not only drugs, but medications such as anxiolytics), or compulsive behaviors, such as > game or shopping.

How to act against psychological harassment?

The mode of action will always depend on whether you are the victim or a third party. An essential key is to never be passive in this process. Thus, we can resort to a series of strategies to prevent harassment in any position:

  • Direct communication: whenever there are ambiguities, it is likely to trigger a harassment situation. If we avoid insinuations and “misunderstandings”, we can prevent their subsequent aggravation.
  • Respectful treatment, both verbal and non-verbal: it is a priority to settle as soon as possible the treatments that we do not consider appropriate, such as insults and humiliation.
  • Self-esteem: It is very important that we do not doubt ourselves, not even when the bully tries to make us do so. It is also essential to not fear the possible conflict that may arise, trying to leave aside, of course, any type of violence. In the same way, we must abandon that false guilt that the aggressor instills in us.
  • Firmness and assertiveness: the use of very clear expressions, without fearing the reactions of the aggressor, can help when dealing with him.
  • Do not isolate yourself: even though the harasser tries to do so, we should not allow it under any circumstances. Remember that you can defend yourself, and that its objective is precisely to make you isolate yourself.

Ultimately, if we are victims or witness any type of violent aggression, or a continued aggression, it is best to report to the authorities. competent bodies.

Gaslighting: the subtlety of harassment

A strategy of psychological harassment that deserves a separate point, and that is heard more and more recently, is gaslighting. .

Gaslighting is based on the victim thinking that her judgment is not valid . “You’re crazy”, “That didn’t happen”, “You’re too sensitive”, “You’re probably exaggerating”… These are phrases that are familiar to all of us, and that can help us distinguish a stalker strong> on time.

This type of emotional abuse seeks to manipulate the victim into doubting her judgment or memory , even when there is evidence < / strong> that demonstrate the opposite. It is common in toxic relationships, not only with a couple, but also with friends and family.

In extreme cases, the victim comes to assume that she has a psychological disorder that prevents her from seeing situations clearly or understanding them properly.

Signs of gaslighting

The psychologist Robin Stern provides us with some signs to recognize if we may be suffering from gaslighting:

  • You find yourself questioning your ideas and actions constantly.
  • You wonder if you are exaggerating or if you are very sensitive. Also if you might have some kind of psychological problem.
  • You apologize constantly, even for things you are not sure you did.
  • You blame yourself for not being happy, when apparently only good things happen in your life.
  • You hide information so you don’t have to explain or excuse yourself to certain people.
  • Sometimes you can lie to avoid dealing with accusations.
  • It’s very difficult for you to make decisions.
  • Yourself-esteem begins to decrease, leading to the feeling that you are not doing anything well.
  • You wonder if you are good enough for your environment.
  • You notice a distancing with your close environment, leading to not trusting them.

How to avoid gaslighting?

In this case, there are a series ofspecific guidelinesthat may be useful to act in the face of this type of psychological harassment:

  • Trust your intuition: you can examine what doesn’t fit, and analyze it in depth .
  • Avoid seeking approval: A good way is to end a conversation instead of trying to convince the other person of something.
  • Remember that your thoughts are your own: there are no “bad emotions”, and you should not apologize for feeling any.
  • Maintain limits: try to make it known what your limit is and what consequences come with crossing it.

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