When someone is harassing another person, it is a crime. This crime involves any type of behavior meant to alarm, annoy, disturb, terrorize, torment, or upset another person. In order for harassment definition in a criminal sense to occur within many jurisdictions, a credible threat must be present to the safety of the victim.
Many states also keep their levels of harassment charges at varying levels that are based upon the circumstances that surround the methods and behaviors that were used when the harassment occurred. Each level of the harassment crime differs if it was conducted electronically, through email, in person, or over the phone.
There are additional factors that will change the harassment charge from a misdemeanor to a felony, and they include the following:
- Whether or not the person doing the harassing is a repeat offender or not.
- If the person has “protection from abuse” order or a “restraining order” filed against them.
- Whether or not this type of harassment is considered a hate crime or not.
- If this crime falls under another type of harassment case such as cyber-stalking or stalking, at which time some states rule under different sets of laws.
Definition of Harassment : Are you a victim of harassment?
Now that you know the definition of harassment, do you believe you are a victim? This is a difficult situation to be, particularly if it occurs infrequently. The infrequent nature of harassment also makes it difficult for police to intervene. There are ways for victims to be proactive and help police when they feel like this is no recourse when these matters seem hopeless, though.
- Keep a diary: Each time events occur, keep a diary. While these memories are not ones that are pleasant to recollect, they are important for police records. Write down the date, time, and place of each occurrence. Within this diary, also include any witness information that might also be helpful for your case.
- Make copies: Keep copies of all materials you receive from anyone that is harassing you. This includes copies of letters and cards you have received, as well as photographs and emails. If you have received text messages and instant messages, these should also be saved as well. Do not forge to save social media interactions, as well. The more information you can copy and save the better.
- Be discreet: While you want to have video and photographic evidence of what is occurring with the person harassing you, it is important to be discreet about what is occurring. The last thing you want to do is wave a camera in front of their face and alter them of your actions. This could lead to a dangerous reaction on their part.
- Get support: You are not in this alone. While you are learning the definition of harassment, dealing with the situation, and gathering evidence against the person doing this to you, it is important to build a support system. This can be a group of friends, family members, or people you work with. This can be people from your school, a group you interact with at church, or wherever else you feel comfortable. The bottom line is this group should consist of people you trust and people who will lift you up with positive reinforcement.
It is common for victims of harassment to experience feelings of anxiousness and fear. This is especially true for those who experience harassment over a long period of time. Harassment does not have to be a physical attack for it to cause harm to a person. It can cause long-term effects; therefore, this abuse should not be ignored.
Understanding the harassment definition is just the beginning of your quest for empowerment. You are not only going to be able to stop this person in their tracks, but you are going to do so with people around you that can help keep you safe. If you believe that you are in immediate danger, do not wait before involving the police. They will intervene immediately. As soon as the police are involved, begin collecting the necessary evidence against the person who is harassing you. This will make your case against them that much stronger and it will make the police’s job that much easier.