Psychological harassment, unfortunately, is a phenomenon that can occur in relationships, but also between friends, family or at work or school. The psychological harasser acts in accordance with his or her interests, and often blames, makes the victim feel uncomfortable and causes him or her fear.

Suffering psychological harassment is one of the worst experiences that human beings can have, and many studies show that psychological harassment has very negative effects for individuals: deterioration of physical and psychological health, anxiety, sleep problems, lack of concentration… In this article we will talk about what psychological harassment is and what are the warning signs that characterize it.

What is bullying

Although we associate harassment with physical harm, there is a very common and less visible form of abuse: psychological, moral or emotional harassment. The dictionary of the Spanish language defines this phenomenon as “a vexatious and disqualifying treatment of an individual, with the aim of psychologically destabilizing him”. In other words, what the psychological harasser intends is to damage the victim’s dignity and moral integrity.

But what characterises psychological harassment is that is not a specific action , but rather that the acts of harassment are repeated over time and in a progressive manner, which causes the victim great impotence, uncertainty and a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence. In extreme cases, continued psychological harassment can result in suicide.

Its consequences

Psychological harassment can end up causing serious mental problems for the victim, because despite being silent, it is devastating for the person who suffers it. Low self-esteem is a key factor in this type of phenomenon , because in addition to becoming a consequence, it can also be a cause that causes the victim to end up in a situation of learned helplessness.

The person who is a victim of psychological harassment may suffer from various problems such as stress, anxiety, depression and even addiction to psychoactive substances, and in many cases is not fully aware that he or she is being humiliated.

Signs of bullying

One of the most frequent scenarios of this type of violence or abuse is in intimate relationships (such as with a partner) but it can occur in other situations, for example, at school (Bullying) or at work (Mobbing). Although the figure of the bully is usually associated with men, studies show that if all forms of this harmful behaviour are taken into account, both men and women harass each other at equal rates. In psychological harassment there are constant verbal offenses, threats, intimidation and criticism , as well as more subtle tactics such as intimidation, shame and manipulation.

But what are the signs of psychological harassment, and what are its characteristics? If you are going through this situation, below you can find a list of signs that could indicate that you are suffering from this type of abuse:

1. Only focuses on the negative and humiliates you

Especially in the case of a partner, the bully focuses on the negative and underestimates the positive. He only points out the defects and despises you .

1. Humiliates you publicly

Psychological harassment includes humiliation and ridicule in public, although the harasser sometimes is not even aware of the harm he is doing , since he does it as a gracieta. However, although there is not always an intention, it does produce serious consequences in the victim.

3. Humiliates you through the net

A more or less recent form of psychological harassment is what is known as cyberbullying , which arises with the irruption of new technologies, and is nothing more than psychological harassment through the network.

4. Causes you discomfort

Being near that person makes you feel uneasy or anxious, even avoiding it. This behaviour is an attempt to avoid unpleasant situations .

5. You are accused without reason

Many times his words are unfounded, and the harasser can accuse you of things you are not guilty of . For example, for the behavior of the children he misbehaves, blaming you.

6. Threatens to harm you

Although physical violence does not have to occur in this type of harassment, it is common for the harasser to threaten to hurt the person and the loved ones, for example, the pet, family, child…

7. Your self-esteem suffers

Self-esteem is the first thing to suffer , because the bully, in some cases, intends to consciously damage your dignity and your person. In a couple, it can make you feel like you are not worth anything.

8. Confusing behavior

In close relationships, these people do not always appear to be like this (i.e. cruel and inconsiderate) as they can sometimes even be affectionate. These behaviours can confuse you.

9. Damage to property

The physical damage is not done to the person, but to other entities . For example, the mobile phone, by throwing it and breaking it against the wall.

10. Your opinion does not count

Especially in the case of harassment at work, your opinion has no say and you are despised . Moreover, the bully or bullies do not let you express yourself.

11. You are treated differently

In cases like bullying, you are isolated from the group and made to feel different in front of others.

12. Turn everyone against you

When the way you act is aimed at damaging your dignity, you also try to get others not to respect you. For example, by talking badly about yourself .

13. Use mockery and sarcasm

The bully may use sarcasm or teasing to demoralize you or make you feel bad about yourself .

14. You have been feeling this way for a long time

Psychological harassment is not something that happens overnight , but it happens progressively and over time. That is why it is so harmful, because the discomfort becomes chronic.

15. He blackmails you

Especially in the case of a partner, the psychological stalker uses threatening phrases such as: “If you do that, don’t blame me if I leave you. It makes you feel bad. This is a common form of emotional blackmail .

Signs of harassment at work

A very common form of harassment, which may have different and peculiar characteristics, is mobbing, which may come from colleagues or from the company . These are some of the signs that may appear when this situation manifests itself:

16. They send you impossible tasks

At work, to destabilize you and make you feel unqualified, you may be assigned goals or projects with unattainable or time-consuming deadlines.

17. Great demands

But not only can deadlines be a problem, but they can also send you tasks that don’t fit with your abilities or that require a lot of effort and work to make you feel incompetent.

18. Employment discrimination

You suffer discrimination at work with respect to the rest of your colleagues . For example, they can make a woman feel bad about a pregnancy.

19. They take responsibility away from you

They take responsibility away from you so that you feel unhelpful and bored , which can lead to boreout.

20. Your achievements are undervalued

The company does not value good work, and so you do not feel comfortable in your professional space. You are constantly underestimated .

21. Rumors are used

Rumours or falsehoods are spread by the company to messenger you and damage your reputation and image of professionalism.

22. Your professional development is blocked

If the aim is for you to leave the company voluntarily, they can block your development or career so that you don’t feel fulfilled and leave the company.

  • You can read more about harassment at work in our article: “Mobbing: psychological harassment at work”