I Stopped My Harasser in His Tracks

Harassment
by Stephen Bruce, PhD, PHR

In yesterday’s Advisor, Holly Kearl, author of Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women, offered 5 ways to stop harassers and 10 examples of what to say to them. Today, two ‘success” stories from harassment victims, plus an introduction to the all-in-one HR website, HR.BLR.com.

Kearl, a program manager for the AAUW, is a national street harassment expert based in the Washington, D.C. area. Her work has been cited by the United Nations, the BBC News, The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, Ms. magazine, and ABC News.

“Here are two stories people shared on my blog Stop Street Harassment in which they used assertive responses to end the harassment,” says Kearl:

Anonymous in Washington, DC

Anonymous shared a story about stopping harassment during her commute home from work:

“I was leaving work Friday afternoon and walking past Union Station. We’ve all seen this kind of man before — you can spot him from a mile off. He was saying something to every single woman who passed him, obviously staring for a long time after they’d passed, then spotting the next mark. As I walked near him, his eyes left another woman’s body and started on mine, feet first and up. As his eyes met mine and he opened his mouth, I said, loudly, “STOP harassing women.” He looked truly perplexed, and it silenced him.”


HR budget cuts? Let us help. HR.BLR.com is your one-stop solution for all your HR compliance and training needs. Take a no-cost, no-obligation trial and get a complimentary copy of our special report Critical HR Recordkeeping—From Hiring to Termination. It’s yours—no matter what you decide.


Jen in London

Jen wrote about facing harassment when she went to a local pub with a colleague and her boyfriend one evening after work.

“It was my turn to get a drink, so I go to the bar … As I’m waiting to be served I feel a hand on my backside. I’m actually so shocked that I don’t move, I pretend I didn’t notice, because how did that just happen?! [I'm thinking], ‘Please tell me you didn’t just touch me because I’m a woman on my own at a bar?’

Waiting for drinks, I can hear the guys behind me laughing about what they just did… I try to be cool, and when I’ve paid and am heading away from the bar, I say, ‘I’m a feminist activist, so whoever just touched my arse made a really stupid mistake.’

I have NEVER seen such horrified expressions as I did on these guys’ faces: complete dismay and horror that a woman had called them out on their actions. I walked casually back to my boyfriend and friend. Ten minutes later, the politer of the bunch ‘apologized’ for his idiotic friends … I reiterated that I don’t appreciate that kind of attention and it is unacceptable; he again apologized. Fair enough – maybe this affected these guys and made them think that this isn’t a good way to behave.”

How about you, readers? Is there an assertive response you’ve seen or have used that’s successfully stopped sexual harassment? Use the comments link below to share.

For a more complete understanding of the issue, Kearl recommends Martha Langelan’s book Back Off! How to Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers, which has more tips on responding to harassers and numerous success stories set in both workplaces and public spaces that can offer further suggestions for how to deal with sexual harassment.

Dealing with harassers—a critical task, but certainly not your only challenge. In HR, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Like FMLA intermittent leave, overtime hassles, ADA accommodation, and then on top of that whatever the agencies and courts throw in your way.

You need a go-to resource, and our editors recommend the “everything-HR-in-one website,” HR.BLR.com. As an example of what you will find, here are some policy recommendations concerning e-mail, excerpted from a sample policy on the website:

Privacy. The director of information services can override any individual password and thus has access to all e-mail messages in order to ensure compliance with company policy. This means that employees do not have an expectation of privacy in their company e-mail or any other information stored or accessed on company computers.

E-mail review. All e-mail is subject to review by management. Your use of the e-mail system grants consent to the review of any of the messages to or from you in the system in printed form or in any other medium.

Solicitation. In line with our general non-solicitation policy, e-mail must not be used to solicit for outside business ventures, personal parties, social meetings, charities, membership in any organization, political causes, religious causes, or other matters not connected to the company’s business.

We should point out that this is just one of hundreds of sample policies on the site. (You’ll also find analysis of laws and issues, job descriptions, and complete training materials for hundreds of HR topics.)


Find out what the buzz is all about. Take a no-cost look at HR.BLR.com, solve your top problem, and get a complimentary gift.


You can examine the entire HR.BLR.com program free of any cost or commitment. It’s quite remarkable—30 years of accumulated HR knowledge, tools, and skills gathered in one place and accessible at the click of a mouse.

What’s more, we’ll supply a free downloadable copy of our special report, Critical HR Recordkeeping—From Hiring to Termination, just for looking at HR.BLR.com. If you’d like to try it at absolutely no cost or obligation to continue (and get the special report, no matter what you decide), go here.

More Articles on Harassment

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

6 Comments

Share Your Comments on This Tip

If you have comments about this tip and want to post them on this page to share your thoughts with other HR Daily Advisor readers, simply enter your comments below. NOTE: Your name will appear on any comments posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Anonymous        
    October 27, 2011 1:34 pm

    Two great examples of how to deal with harassers in any environment. All harassers and bullies look for victims in a variety of ways. If you can stand up to them and “call them out” for their inappropriate behavior then the vast majority will back down fairly quickly. Some harassers/bullies may continue, especially if they are part of a group, but have courage, stand your ground, and look for support around you. All of us must do more to stop Bullying in its various forms.

  2. Anonymous        
    November 1, 2011 7:20 am

    Many years ago, I worked with a man (a counselor, no less!) who was always looking at me and trying to be flirtatious, even though he knew I was in a relationship and I had told him it wasn’t appreciated. One day, he walked up and put his arm around me in a sideways hug, so that his hand was almost touching my breast. I looked him in the eye and said, “If you don’t remove your hand, and if you ever touch me again, I will scream bloody murder and file a harassment charge so quickly you won’t know what happened.” He immediately left me alone and I never had a problem with him again. It is ridiculous, especially in this day and age, that anyone has to even confront this type of behavior – unwelcome is unwelcome, and it’s pretty difficult for most offenders to defend that their actions are innocent or they didn’t see “signs” telling them no. And I know women are not the only victims – I’ve seen women do this to men, as well.

  3. Anonymous        
    November 1, 2011 8:07 am

    A number of years ago I worked in an office with a man who was prone to touching women that worked in the facility. He put his arm around me and I told him that if he ever touched me again, I would tear his arm off and beat him to death with the bloody stump.

  4. Anonymous        
    November 1, 2011 9:00 am

    I was on the subway, taking my daughter to summer day camp, and I felt someone slide a hand over my buttock, and hold it there. For one moment, I froze. Then I turned toward the offender, and hoping my daughter wouldn’t hear, told him that if he didn’t remove his hand immediately, I would detach it at the wrist and insert it into one of his orifices, and that I guaranteed it would be both painful and unpleasant. His mouth gaped open, he stepped away and disappeared in the crowd.

  5. Anonymous        
    November 1, 2011 12:12 pm

    These “stop a harasser” issues can go too far, even to the point of encouraging false allegations of harassment. I myself suffered a false allegation once, made by a woman who had harassed *me* in order to cover her tracks and prevent me from being heard. Thankfully, I was exonerated, but the social uproar forced me to change majors.

  6. Anonymous        
    November 1, 2011 7:14 pm

    I was seventeen years old and worked as a hostess in this restaurant. There were a lot of regulars that came in especially on Sunday. I was making sure everyone was okay and I had my back to these three men, when all of a sudden I felt a hand on my right butt cheek and then a pinch. I was so hot I could have fried eggs on my head. I turned to the gentleman who had such a big grin on his face, chuckling with his friends. I got in his face and before I realized it, I slapped his face and told him I was not for sale nor was I public property. I looked up and my boss was standing behind the cash register motioning for me to come here. I thought, here I go I’m going to get fired now. I told my boss what happened and he politely told them to leave and never come back or the law would be involved the next time. As all three men were leaving, they kept apologizing. I’m a firm believer, if you nip it in the bud before it gets started it won’t get out of hand. Only you can control what goes on!!!!