Being harassed is an extremely stressful situation that, unfortunately, many people find themselves facing every year in the UK.
Due to your harasser, you may be feeling unsafe, scared in your own home, or worried about setting foot outside in fear that your harassment may continue.
However, if you find yourself being harassed, the law is on your side. In this article, we’ll be explaining what harassment is, as well as the legal options and support that you will be able to access.
What is the legal definition of harassment in the UK?
In the UK, harassment is when a person behaves in a way where they intend to cause distress or alarm to another person.
Their behaviour must happen on more than one occasion, but it doesn’t always have to be the same type of behaviour. There are many different things that can constitute harassment.
What are the 3 types of harassment?
Harassment comes in many different shapes and sizes, with no two cases being the same. The most common types of harassment are:
1. Verbal/written harassment
- Repeatedly making unwanted remarks, jokes, or advances that make you feel uncomfortable.
- Making derogatory comments about you, your family, disability, age, illnesses, etc.
- Sending emails with offensive jokes or with an inappropriate nature.
- Imitating and making fun of your accent or actions.
2. Physical harassment
- Unwanted touching of you, your clothing, belongings, etc.
- Purposefully following or standing close to you to make you feel uncomfortable.
- The use of hand gestures to convey curse words.
- Playing music that contains language that is meant to be offensive or degrading.
3. Visual harassment
- Displaying posters or other artwork of a rude or sexual nature.
- Drawing sexually suggestive, violent, or derogatory images.
- Showing other people sexually suggestive emails, letters, or text messages.
- Watching violent or pornographic videos.
What things count as harassment?
Although there are many different forms of harassment, you know if you’re being harassed. No one should ever be made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, no matter the situation.
Harassment may include:
- Bullying at school, in the workplace, or within your home.
- Stalking or cyberstalking.
- Sending abusive text messages, emails, letters.
- Using derogatory language or directing offensive jokes towards you.
- Sending unwanted gifts.
- Persistent, unwanted phone calls and visits.
What is an example of harassment?
An example of harassment could be in the workplace. If there is a particular co-worker that is constantly making fun of your accent, directing derogatory jokes towards you, and making you feel uncomfortable, these are all signs that they are harassing you – which you’re entitled to take legal action to stop.
Harassment can take place anywhere; it doesn’t just have to be in your home or at the office. Wherever you are that you’re experiencing harassment, it’s never ok.
What are your legal options if you’re being harassed?
If you are experiencing harassment, you should not feel like you’re alone as the law is on your side. There are two different routes that you can take:
1. Report harassment to the police
If someone is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe and they have behaved in this way more than once, you can report them to the police.
The police can then charge your harasser and send the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
2. Take your harasser to court
You can also choose to take your harasser to civil court if they’ve harassed you more than once, leaving you feeling distressed or alarmed.
The courts have the power to order your harasser to stay away from you through an ‘injunction’, in some cases you may also receive compensation.
If the injunction is granted and the harassment continues, your harasser may go to prison.
You can take someone to court even if you have never reported them to the police. Once you go to the civil court, it will be up to the judge to decide whether your harasser will be charged or if any further action will need to be taken to ensure your safety.
If they are related/connected to you on a personal level, you may be able to obtain a Non-Molestation Order in the Family Court.
Harassment support from National Legal Service
Whether you need advice on what you should do, or if you need help taking your harasser to court, National Legal Service is here to guide you through the legal process.
Our team of specialist solicitors is experienced in harassment cases and can help you to regain your independence, improve your confidence, and ensure that your harasser leaves you alone.
If you’d like to talk to a legal professional about your case, get in touch by calling us at 020 3601 5051 or emailing email@example.com.