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Funding for this campaign was received from the Violence Against Women and Girls commission, hence the focus on women as victims.

The number of women who have been harassed and assaulted is staggering. A recent study by UN Women UK found that 97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed and over 70% of women in the UK say they have experienced harassment in public. #ThisEndsNow

Glossary

  • Misogyny = dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women
  • Harassment = aggressive pressure or intimidation

 

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For decades one of the main focuses of tackling this type of behaviour has been to place onus on those being harassed to change their behaviour in order to keep themselves safe. Whilst this can help people to have a sense of control over their safety, these suggestions are ultimately perpetuating victim blaming narratives and do not address the root cause of the problem; the offenders behaviour. We are switching the focus with this campaign and calling on all perpetrators of misogynistic and harassing behaviour to Step Up. It is by doing this that we will make significant and much needed change in this area.

Additionally, we can all help to change problematic, dangerous and anti-social behaviour by being active and informed bystanders. Safely intervening when someone is being harassed and/or calling out misogynistic and inappropriate behaviour can go a long way to changing the thoughts, attitudes and actions of others.

Step Up, Step Away

It is on us to manage our own behaviour and ensure that we are communicating with others respectfully. We can use the three R’s to help us to do this;

  • Recognise – when your behaviour is out of line. How are those around you reacting to what you are saying or doing? Are they showing or expressing any discomfort? Are you behaving respectfully and showing regard for other people’s feelings as well as your own?
  • Revise – your behaviour to be more respectful. If appropriate, apologise (sincerely and meaningfully) to those you have disrespected and offended
  • Reflect – on why you behaved in that way, what purpose did it serve? What was the effect of your behaviours on others? It is only by understanding why we behave in the ways that we do and the impact of these behaviours that we will see meaningful and long lasting change

How to handle a rejection

Flirting and paying compliments to others is perfectly healthy behaviour, providing that the recipient of those behaviours feels comfortable and is fully consenting. If we approach someone and they decline our advances or express any discomfort (verbal or non-verbal), then it is on us to politely and calmly remove ourselves from that situation.

The media and entertainment industry all too often portray that one person needs to actively pursue the other, regardless and sometimes in spite of that person saying no, or otherwise showing discomfort in some way. It is painted as being romantic. It isn’t.

If your advances are rejected, what can you do? How should you react?

  • First and foremost you should accept that person’s decision. This involves politely ending the conversation and removing yourself from the situation if needed
  • Rejection can hurt and we can respond negatively, for example by shouting and saying inappropriate things, due to the negative emotions we are experiencing. Therefore, it is really important that you address and acknowledge these feelings in a healthy way. Writing down your emotions and pairing them with the thoughts that are causing them can help to create some distance. Talking to a trusted friend can also help
  • Try not to internalise the rejection. We can sometimes think that we are not worthwhile or that there is something ‘wrong’ with us when we are rejected. These are usually irrational thoughts and we can help to rationalise these by writing down all of the potential reasons why someone may have rejected us, including reasons which are not about us (such as they may already be in a relationship, they may be focusing on enjoying time with their friends etc.).

Do Not;

  • Avoid directing anger you may be feeling about the situation towards the individual. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are behaving appropriately. If you feel angry, frustrated or uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation
  • Say derogatory things about them or address them using slurs
  • Harass them; messaging them continuously without a response, engineering bumping into them, approach one of their friends for their number
  • Make them feel uncomfortable

Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are behaving appropriately.

Click here for the interactive 'Accept a No' video.

Click here for the interactive 'WhatsApp' video.

Step Up, Step In, Speak Up (bystander intervention)

Humans are social creatures, we want to fit in and be accepted by our peers. If those around us show that they do not like the way in which we are behaving, this can have a profound impact on changing our behaviour and views. Therefore, we can all positively impact the occurrence of misogynistic and harassing behaviour by intervening if it is safe to do so. Not all intervention requires direct action, there are a number of different ways we can make a positive impact.

  • Distract – either the harasser or the person being harassed. This can be achieved by asking a question unrelated to the incident (“sorry to bother you, do you know when the next bus is due to arrive?”) and enables space for the harasser or person being harassed to remove themselves from the situation.
  • Delegate – ask for help from a third party, perhaps someone with authority (for example security or a member of staff)
  • Direct – respond directly to the situation, remembering to remain calm. This can work well if you know the harasser
  • Delay – check in with the person who was being harassed after the situation has passed. Acknowledge that what happened was not ok and ask if they need any help or would like anyone to be called. You can also remain in the vicinity as the harassment is occurring, to help the person being harassed not feel so alone. This can also prevent the harassment from escalating

 

It’s time that we start calling out and intervening when we witness misogynistic and other harmful behaviours. Being silent may give the unintended view that we agree with the behaviour which is being exhibited, which can sometimes serve to increase the chances of this behaviour happening again.

You can practice different ways of intervening by playing the interactive videos below.

Click here for the interactive Street Harassment video.

Click here for the interactive Catcalling video.

Reporting and Support

A number of the behaviours referenced in this campaign are crimes, for example assault (including verbal assault), and harassment. If you have been the victim of, or witnessed one or more of these behaviours, you are encouraged to report the incident. If you are not sure if the behaviour you witnessed is a crime, but it worried you and/or you observed distress in others as a consequence of the behaviour, we also encourage you to report it.

Whether you report and who you report to is completely your choice; we will support you whatever you decide. Sometimes, calling out the behaviour in the moment can rectify the issue. However, if there are threats of violence, hate crime, risks to safety, or it appears that a pattern of unacceptable behaviour is emerging, reporting this can make it more likely that this is identified early enough to act on it and prevent further incidents.

If you are not in immediate danger, you can call the Police on 101 to make a report and a Police Officer will arrange to meet with you to take a statement. If you are in immediate danger you can call 999 for assistance.

If the perpetrator is a student at the University of Hull then you can also report to the University Student Misconduct Team. The easiest way to do this is by filling in a Raise a Concern form and a member of student support staff will arrange an appointment with you, to offer support with the process of investigation. More information about what this process and the possible outcomes can be found in the Training and Policies section of the Sexual Violence webpage.

Support is also available for any student who may need it. A list of local and national support services can be found here.

 

Breadth of the campaign

Funding for this campaign was received from the Violence Against Women and Girls commission, hence the focus on women being the victims of harassment and misogynistic behaviour. We cannot shy away from the fact that these acts are, for the most part, gendered, with women experiencing high levels of these actions and behaviours on a daily basis.

However, there are men who are also the victims of these types of acts. This campaign does not wish to undervalue their experience and it is envisioned that the messaging regarding how to change behaviour and be an active bystander can be used for behaviours of this type across the board, regardless of the gender of the victim. We have also included support specifically for male victims in the support list.

Campaigns of this type often receive comments of “Not all men”. We want to make it clear, with the hopes of reducing the number of comments made regarding this and therefore reducing the attention being directed away from the spirit of the campaign, that we are of course not suggesting that all men exhibit misogynistic behaviour and harass women. However, enough do, resulting in 97% of women aged 18-24 having an experience of harassment. We need those men who do not exhibit these behaviours to help address these issues and we welcome men to stand with us in this campaign to help drive this message forward, truly showing that it is not “all men”, but in a productive and helpful way.