…when you truly internalize the fact that the harassment you experienced wasn’t your fault.
You likely already know this in your head. But do you know it in your heart? When you truly, deeply start to realize the harassment you experienced is not your fault, you’ll also start to realize that it’s not your responsibility to have a “perfect” response. (And really, there is no “perfect” response to something you never asked for in the first place.)
When you start to realize that, it’s pretty freeing. It means you don’t have to pretend to be “tough” anymore. It means you don’t have to know every last thing about HR processes, about the definitions of harassment across states, or about investigation protocols, in order to legitimize the truth that you were harassed. It means it’s okay to hurt. To feel frustrated. To get angry. To quit.
Ultimately, to let go of the hurt, you’re going to need a plan to heal. It’s okay to be angry that healing is another thing you have to figure out for yourself. But it’s our hope that this resource helps you minimize, or at least manage, the adverse impact of the situation…and possibly grow favorably as a person.
What do you want to feel at the end of the month? In three months? In six months? A year? What do you think will help you get there? Take some time to journal about this. Here are some questions that might prompt you to start journaling:
How do you want this experience to shape how you understand the world?
What do you know now that you didn’t know then?
What does growth look like from here?
Chances are that you’re busy. And maybe you’re the type of person who would rather pretend that the harassment didn’t happen than spend time grieving it (let’s be real: most of us are like this…you’re by no means alone).
But know this: oftentimes the most severe anxiety, anger, and long-term effects of harassment come when we don’t take the time to realize we’re hurt. This doesn’t mean we need to sit around and wallow in the negative emotions associated with experiencing harassment, but it does mean that finding some time to safely feel our feelings – whether it’s 15 minutes a day, or a couple hours a week, or something in between – can help speed up the healing process.
Figure out who your people are. Who are the coworkers you feel safe around at work? Who in your personal life can you talk to without fear of judgment? Could a therapist be helpful?
To offer you an added layer of support, we’ve partnered with Empower Work. They provide free, confidential support for workplace issues, from trained peer counselors. To reach out, text RightToBe to 510-674-1414.
When you’re actively experiencing trauma (which harassment and its aftermath can certainly cause) it can feel completely unsafe to be “grounded” in the present moment. At the same time, finding the ground under your feet is essential to healing. Find ways to get grounded, even if it only lasts for a minute at a time. Meditation can help – there are lots of free apps out there if you’re looking for guidance. To help you get started, here’s a meditation guided by somatics coach Madeline Wade, to help talk you through “coming back from harassment.” Click to play when you feel safe and ready to ground yourself.
At work, you might need some subtle or undetectable practices for getting grounded. There are things you can do wherever you are, without any movement or equipment. For example, try box breathing (breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and then repeat).
Here’s another simple grounding technique: sit down in a chair. First, feel your feet on the floor. Then, feel your butt on your seat. Then, feel your back against the chair. Feel your arms at your sides or in your lap. Intentionally connecting to your physical environment can help you slow your breathing down.
Singing, dancing, drawing, painting, pottery, knitting, crochet, needlework, woodwork…no matter what medium it is, art can help us express what is buried deep inside us without having to find the “right words” all the time. Don’t worry about being “good at it” or making something “pretty” – just focus on releasing your emotions.
Many of us at Right To Be love creating healing playlists with our favorite music. In a moment where you’ve experienced harassment or feel the associated emotions bubbling up, you might turn to your playlist of music that makes you feel cared for and like things will be alright. If you use a music streaming service, you can always add to and change your playlist – the process of looking for the music that speaks to you the most can be healing in itself. Then, whenever you’re having a hard time, you can always put on your music to help you come back down to earth.
Looking for some inspiration? Visit Right To Be’s Spotify library, where you’ll find playlists for resilience and joy curated by our team.
Take the time to write about what you’re going through. Maybe you imagine writing a hypothetical “chapter of your memoir.” Maybe you try a technique called “morning pages” from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron: each morning, write three pages of anything that comes to mind. There are no rules – just write.
Another healing tactic is to write a “Dear X” letter (where X is the person who harassed you) with everything you’d like to say to them. After harassment happens, you may not be able to talk directly to the person who harassed you, or feel safe doing so. This can make it hard to find closure. Try writing them a letter and then destroying it – sending your feelings out into the universe to find them when they are ready.
Intensive exercise, like running, can help us release anger. Soothing movement, like yoga, can help us calm our nervous systems. Looking for a place to start? Try progressive muscle relaxation, a technique to release the stress and anxiety we often tend to hold in our bodies without realizing it.
When things are bad, it can be easy to see only the bad things around us. Taking time each day to write down a few things we’re grateful for can shift our mindset by reminding us that there are still – even in the midst of pain – wonderful things in our lives.
You’ve been through such a difficult and painful process, and you’re coming out of it wiser than you were before.
Often, when we go through something challenging, it can feel empowering and validating to support others going through the same thing. If it feels empowering for you, let others know what you’ve been through and let them know they can count on you.
One way to do that is to share your story on our website, and join a community of people who share your experience and resilience. Let them know that they’re not alone – and be reminded that you aren’t either.
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