For those that go through it, the initial few weeks to months are telling. They will basically be the time frame within which the person being harassed will decide whether or not it's best they just move on, or if they are going to stay and stick it out. There is nothing wrong with taking that former option. Each person's circumstances are different and there is no right or wrong decision in the end.
I know that because I went through my own experience with discrimination and harassment while attending the University of Connecticut from my sophomore year clear through to graduation. The idea was that the people doing the harassing knew they could not just come out and openly harass me. There are federal laws, state laws and school laws protecting people from being discriminated against at the school from students to professors to other employees.
As a result they needed to use mostly subtle and indirect methods to harass me with the more overt and blatant methods spaced out to occur every once in a blue moon. Even those were done when there weren't many if any other folks around and those that were around would be on board with denying or saying it didn't look like anything more than an accident, etc. This way they kept things organized so they were able to deny what was happening through plausible deniability – one person's word against another or a group of others being enough to raise reasonable doubt.
It was what the people that harassed and discriminated against me and most people carrying out such acts of organized harassment and discrimination within a group use to protect themselves. It is a coward's way, yes, but effective. It makes bringing civil rights violation, discrimination and harassment based lawsuits and complaints very difficult. In such cases he said/ she said can indeed be very powerful.
The ultimate goal of people utilizing such methods is typically to cause enough accumulated stress to get a person to quit, flunk out or get fired because of lack of work or get kicked out due to acting out as a result of anger, etc. They can't say, “you can't be here because we don't like your race, gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation...“ etc. As such they need to try and make it seem like it's your fault and all things were normal and they are as innocent as newborn pups.
If you decide to stay for whatever reasons and stick it out until you reach whatever goal you set for yourself, it can be a good idea to prepare and plan. This can significantly reduce the amount of stress you feel as it takes away from the constant worrying and replaces it with proactive decision making. As such, it can serve to replace fear and a feeling of helpless victimization with confidence, anticipation and even increased self worth – to an extent. But that extent can be the difference between succumbing to the strategies employed against you and overcoming the behavior directed at you by your harassers.
Make no mistake about it, the more you survive, the more thought out and planned the strategies and tactics employed against you will become. As such it is important to study your harassers as a group and as individuals to identify their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you develop profiles of them and to use those profiles to anticipate what they will do next. It can even help to see things they will possibly do in the immediate future and things they will do in the distant future. It will help to identify overall larger scale strategies and the various components that these big picture strategies will consist of to know the steps that may occur.
It can also help to do a little research online etc to find out about other people's experiences in such situations so that you can employ some of the things others used. Be open minded as just because they were being harassed for a reason other than yours does not mean there won't be similar strategies employed and parallels to be found. In fact, what I found was that much of what is employed against you will be the same handful of strategies with minor tweaks here and there.
It can make things a lot easier in terms of anticipating what will come next. If you study the people and understand where they fit into the larger picture then you can know their roles.
It can help to understand that within the larger strategies are smaller tactics used to weaken you and prep you for the execution of the current strategy in the hopes the cumulative effect will be to get you out somehow. It is up to you to figure out how to survive. In part that is why I write this.
When I was going through my experience of harassment and discrimination there was nothing I could find much to help. I called organizations that specialized in discrimination from those that applied to my situation to those that absolutely did not (like NOW, GLAAD and Jewish organizations even though I'm a man, heterosexual and Buddhist) to gather as much info about how these things work and how best to survive and make it through. They were all helpful to one extent or another for me, just be honest with them about who you are and most will help.
I write about things I noticed and they may help you or not. My hope is that some of what I write in such articles will help you if you are being harassed or someone you know, so you or they can be better prepped for the fight.
As I mentioned there are the larger bigger picture strategies and then smaller tactics and strategies employed while those are being carried out to help those doing the harassing and discriminating move things along and to weaken you psychologically and emotionally. Often times you will hear threats regarding information and dirt your harassers have on you they believe could negatively impact you. They may insinuate what they are and those things may be lies or truths. Most often they are a mix of the two, wherein they will have a piece of truth and then add lies to make it seem more dirty and negative than it is and to affect your reputation.
These things are used like nuclear weapons. They are almost never employed but just brought up as threats to make you nervous or to distract you, etc. Unlike real nukes, when they are employed they are never as bad as they say they will be in terms of impact. These are things they believe will embarrass you, shame you, etc to impact both how confident you feel about yourself and those that support you or are on the fence feel about you. Very political.
When they drop them it is really just a matter of how prepared you were for them and your being willing to endure the time it takes to pass – which is very fast as long as you stay focused and keep your mind on what it is you need to be doing.
If they spread the lie, rumor or whatever they feel they have they will follow it with a huge amount of initial hoopla as if to say, “this is it, we got you now it's over for you, your life is demolished and we won. You can never recover from or survive this!!” Guess what? I survived them all and they never lasted in terms of any psychological or emotional impact very long at all.
In fact, you really want them to drop these things. There will only be a finite amount, and remember they hope they will work and are scared to death of what will happen if they do not. That's why they keep bringing them up and never dropping them. They are their trump cards and fig leaves and once they have been dropped – like an American car in the 80's they immediately begin to drop in value once they leave the lot – big time. Once the requisite amount of time passes and you are still going, people begin to look around and ask themselves, “wasn't that supposed to work? I thought that was like going to end this person. How come they are still here and going strong?”
So you want them to drop these things, because the sooner they are out, the sooner they are done with and the sooner you realize how weak, frail and afraid they really are.
Another thing I noticed as a smaller tactic employed, along with the phony or half true “nukes” they try and hold over your head, are ludicrous insinuations. Say for example, you are a woman being harassed because you are in the process of making a sexual harassment complaint. Along with threats, you may also notice ludicrous insinuations like, “we are thinking of making you president of the department, we will give you a million bucks etc.” It's like, “we're your friends that hate you – you believe us right?”
First off this is the real world. If they planned to reward you with such things, they would have sat down with you and done them. Secondly, remember, these things are insinuations and hints; they mean nothing. The only thing that matters is what is in writing. If it is in writing signed by the people that can make such things happen then they would, but trust me they won't.
There is no money, there is no real meaningful job. In my experience there is only b.s. talk. That's how you should view such things and dismiss them. Stick to your goal and anything to be worked out must be in writing signed by the people that can make those things happen. Otherwise just keep going. They are lies from unscrupulous desperate people. That's how you need to view them.
I made it to graduation because I ignored such things and saw them for what they were. No matter what happened I kept going. It not only kept my spirits alive, but I survived my ordeal as a result so I know it works and if I ever discovered I were in such a situation again I would do the same thing. Stick to my goals and not be distracted by promises of treasure or tragedy. The real treasures will come in discovering what lies beyond the threats of tragedy and what happens when they make good on their promises. For me it was their absolute failure and my success and graduation. I made it and so can you and believe me, if I'm ever in such a situation again I will prey they make good on their threats. They never turn out like they hope they will in order to bring change to their situation. Never.
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.