How to act in harassment situations

In this chapter, we will deal with harassment cases and present some instructions on how to process the situations. We will first go through instructions for those who have experienced harassment and for those accused of harassment. After this, we will explain how organisations can process harassment situations.

3. Processing harassment cases in organisations

3.2. How to deal with a person who has experienced harassment

  1. If you see or hear harassment or inappropriate behaviour, try to put a stop to the situation. You can, for instance, cut in, join the conversation or question any inappropriate comments. The important thing is to somehow put an end to the situation. It takes real courage to take action against harassment when it is taking place.
    • It is not always entirely clear whether what is happening constitutes harassment or bullying. If you are unsure about it, just join the conversation and ask whether everything is ok.
    Support and listen to the person who has experienced harassment. Ask them what kind of help they need and how they would like you to act in the situation.
    • We recommend taking the person to the side so that you can discuss matters privately.
    • Sometimes, the person does not want to start resolving the situation immediately, or this is not advisable due to them being upset or intoxicated, for instance. Make sure that the person is not left alone. Together with them, agree on a time when you will get back to the matter.
  2. Once you know how the person who has experienced harassment wants you to act, try to follow their wishes.
  3. Know your own limits. Conflict and harassment situations put a strain on the people resolving them, too. Make sure that you do not take on too much responsibility by directing people towards other providers of help, too. You do not need to suddenly become a health care or crisis situation professional. Some contact details for crisis situations can be found here.