What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is any unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature that makes you feel distressed, intimidated or humiliated. It can take lots of different forms. It can include or be called sexualised bullying.
You don't have to have objected to a certain kind of behaviour in the past for it to be unwanted and constitute harassment.
Sexual harassment can include:
someone making sexually degrading comments or gestures
your body being stared or leered at
being subjected to sexual jokes or propositions
e-mails or text messages with sexual content
physical behaviour, including unwelcome sexual advances and touching
someone displaying sexually explicit pictures in your space or a shared space, like at work
offers of rewards in return for sexual favours
Although sexual harassment happens everywhere, it is common at work. It can cause stress and hostility in the workplace, and over time, it can lead to physical and emotional problems, like headaches, nausea, cystitis, depression, anxiety, problems sleeping and eating, and loss of self-confidence. Many women end up leaving their job rather than have to carry on enduring sexual harassment.
If this is happening to you, it is not your fault and you are not being unreasonable. The harasser is to blame and is abusing their position of trust and power.
If this is happening to you this is not your fault and you are not being unreasonable. The harasser is to blame and they are abusing their position of trust and power.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual or indecent assault is any physical, psychological and emotional violation in the form of a sexual act, inflicted on someone without their consent.
Sexual assault can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in sexual activity.
Penetration of another person's vagina or anus with any part of the body other than the penis, or with any object, without their consent is defined as 'sexual assault by penetration'. This crime carries the same sentences as rape.
Sexual assault doesn't have to involve other physical violence or weapons. Just because you don't have visible injuries, doesn't mean you weren't sexually assaulted.
What is domestic abuse?
We define domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer. It is very common. In the vast majority of cases it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.
Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:
Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence)
Psychological and/or emotional abuse
Physical or sexual abuse
From every wound there is a scar, and every scar tells a story. A story that says 'I survived' turn your wounds into wisdom. You are stronger then you have ever realised.
What is emotional abuse?
Most people know what physical abuse is, but when it comes to emotional abuse, people tend to think there’s much more of a ‘grey area’.
They might know it has something to do with treating your partner badly – name calling or making them feel small – but not be clear on what’s actually classed as emotional abuse, or whether it’s really as serious as other types.
But if you’re on the receiving end, it can be just as damaging and upsetting – and this is reflected in the law. The Serious Crime Act 2015 makes behaviour that is ‘controlling or coercive” towards another person in an intimate or family relationship’ punishable by a prison term of up to five years.
What constitutes emotional abuse?
There are a variety of types of behaviour that could be classed as emotional abuse.
Intimidation and threats. This could be things like shouting, acting aggressively or just generally making you feel scared. This is often done as a way of making a person feel small and stopping them from standing up for themselves.
Criticism. This could be things like name calling or making lots of unpleasant or sarcastic comments. This can really lower a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
Undermining. This might include things like dismissing your opinion. It can also involve making you doubt your own opinion by acting as if you're being oversensitive if you do complain, disputing your version of events or by suddenly being really nice to you after being cruel.
Being made to feel guilty. This can range from outright emotional blackmail (threats to kill oneself or lots of emotional outbursts) to sulking all the time or giving you the silent treatment as a way of manipulating you.
Economic abuse. This can be withholding money, not involving you in finances or even preventing you from getting a job. This could be done as a way of stopping you from feeling independent and that you’re able to make your own choices.
Telling you what you can and can’t do. As the examples above make clear, emotional abuse is generally about control. Sometimes this is explicit. Does your partner tell you when and where you can go out, or even stop you from seeing certain people? Do they try to control how you dress or how you style your hair?
How do I know if it is abuse?
Sometimes, people wonder whether ‘abuse’ is the right term to describe any relationship difficulties they’re going through. They may feel like their partner shouts at them a lot or makes them feel bad, but think ‘abuse’ would be too ‘dramatic’ a word to use.
But the point about whether the behaviour is abusive, is how it makes you feel. If your partner’s behaviour makes you feel small, controlled or as if you’re unable to talk about what’s wrong, it’s abusive. If you feel like your partner is stopping you from being able to express yourself, it’s abusive. If you feel you have to change your actions to accommodate your partner’s behaviour, it’s abusive.
There may be many reasons for partners behaving in this way. They may have grown up in a family environment where there was lots of shouting or sarcasm or been in relationships in the past that made them feel insecure. Sometimes in couple counselling, we are able to consider those behaviours and the impact on your relationship. But while this might help us to understand, it can never be used as an excuse – so whether it’s on purpose or not, it isn’t OK. If you feel like you’re being subjected to abusive behaviour, remember you deserve to have a voice, and you don’t deserve to be made to feel scared or small.
One of the most helpful first steps if you feel you’re in an abusive relationship is to speak to someone outside of it.
If you can talk to someone who isn’t involved, they might be able to lend you a little perspective. This can be particularly useful if you’re not sure where you stand – sometimes, behaviour we’ve become used to can seem quite clearly unreasonable to an objective outsider.
This person might be a member of your family or a friend. Or it may be a Relationship Counsellor. Counsellors are trained to unpick situations like this, helping you and your partner to understand where any abusive behaviour might be coming from and how you can work together to move towards a more mutually respectful and healthy relationship.
You may want to come along by yourself at first, especially if you don’t think your partner would react well to the suggestion. We can then help you figure out what’s happening – and whether inviting your partner along so you can work on things together would be a good idea.
Diamond ACT courses can also help with sexual, domestic and emotional abuse. Courses are designed to help prevent and overcome affects of abuse by installing the physical and emotional tools required to build
self esteem and confidence.
This was never your fault, you are not to blame, we are here to truly help you!