Harassment, Bullying, Gaslighting: What to Do in These Situations

Today, the pace of life is accelerating everywhere every day, and as a result, the stress level of each individual and society as a whole is increasing. All this leads to an increase in tension and aggression, which acquires various forms. And at this time each new type of manifestation of this aggression is given new names, and already from this can go around the head. Of course, it’s much easier to abstract from this topic and play at or read books instead. But anyway you can face uncomfortable social situations you will have to deal with. Let’s find out what all these new words, which come at us every day from all the screens and speakers, mean.


Bullying is a manifestation of aggression by a member of a group or team against a specific person to establish oneself in front of him. The closest to it is the notion of bullying. The difference lies in the motives of the persecutors. In the second case, the goal is the “expulsion” of a particular participant from the group. Harassing and mobbing can be of various natures and comprise verbal animosity, embarrassment, affronts, actual viciousness, disregarding the person in question, and harm to his property..


Harassment is also a form of aggression, but it consists mostly of harassment of the victim, most often with sexual intent (but not always). The aggressor seeks to engage in verbal and/or physical contact with the target, usually in a brutal manner.


Gaslighting is understood as a type of aggression when a person is persuaded of the fallacy of his worldview, and perception while declaring the truth of the gaslighter’s point of view.

The aim of the aggressor is to demonstrate his own significance, importance, and weightiness, and attempt to control the situation around him. Conventionally, it’s possible to designate it with the following “formula”: “The way the world works is unpleasant for me, it makes me uncomfortable and disturbs me, therefore, it’s necessary to change the world so that I can feel well.” Often the “discomfort” in question has little to do with the surrounding reality and stems from an internal feeling of ill-being, but for a person, the very idea that something may be wrong with him is too painful, so he projects his own dissatisfaction outside, attributing the causes of his condition to external factors.

The object of aggression can be completely different in character. The main thing about being aggressive toward someone is that they are different from others. We are biologically conditioned to identify those who are similar to us (“our own”) and those who are different from us (“alien”), and we tend to strengthen the bond with “our own” and push “alien” from “our territory”.

What to Do

Ways to deal with bullying and/or mobbing. Because bullying and mobbing are group phenomena, they can only be managed at the group level. Alone, the survivor of harassment can’t impact the way of behaving at the gathering. It is essential to recollect that the casualty of harassing and mobbing is not quite the same as the others. To prevent bullying, it’s a good idea to turn to someone whose job it is to organize and coordinate the group. At school, it might be a teacher; at work, it might be a boss. If the teacher or boss is one of the aggressors, then the one who is higher in the hierarchy of the organization should be addressed. Leaving the organization can be a way out, but it is a last resort because bullying is a collective disease, not an individual one.

In the case of harassment, it’s worth minimizing contact with the aggressor and seeking legal advice to ensure your own safety. If harassment occurs in an organization, you can also contact a higher authority to regulate the conflict.

Gassing most often occurs at the interpersonal level, so it is resolved at that level.

Here are a few recommendations that are worth paying attention to:

  • Listen to yourself. Only you know how you feel about certain events at a given moment. You do not have to prove the reality of your feelings, what you feel is a fact.
  • Get more feedback from different people. Friends, relatives, and eventually colleagues you trust. Ask them how they see you, and whether they notice the “oddities” the aggressor is talking about. There is no goal here to find out the “right” or “true” opinion. The main thing is to see for yourself that each person sees you and the situation differently.
  • Answer the question of how you imagine a respectful and trusting relationship. Does this relationship meet your criteria?

If you feel that you have been the target of someone else’s systematic aggression, and you don’t have the resources to deal with it yourself, contact a professional who can help you get out of destructive contact.

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