Harassment covers a wide range of behaviors of an offensive nature. It is commonly understood as behavior that demeans, humiliates or embarrasses a person, and it is characteristically identified by its unlikelihood in terms of social and moral reasonableness. In the legal sense, these are behaviors that appear to be disturbing, upsetting or threatening. They evolve from discriminatory grounds, and have an effect of nullifying a person’s rights or impairing a person from benefiting from their rights. When these behaviors become repetitive, it is defined as bullying. The continuity or repetitiveness and the aspect of distressing, alarming or threatening may distinguish it from insult.
Harassment directs multiple repeating obscenities and derogatory comments at specific individuals focusing, for example, on the targets’ race, religion, gender, nationality, disability, or sexual orientation. This often occurs in chat rooms, through newsgroups, and by sending hate e-mail to interested parties. This may also include stealing photos of the victim and their families, doctoring these photos in offensive ways, and then posting them on social media with the aim of causing emotional distress (see cyberbullying, cyberstalking, hate crime, online predator, Online Gender-Based Violence, and stalking).
This is humiliating, intimidating or abusive behavior which is often difficult to detect, leaving no evidence other than victim reports or complaints. This characteristically lowers a person’s self-esteem or causes one to have overwhelming torment. This can take the form of verbal comments, engineered episodes of intimidation, aggressive actions or repeated gestures. Falling into this category is workplace harassment by individuals or groups mobbing.
Community-based psychological harassment, meanwhile, is stalking by a group against an individual using repeated distractions that the individual is sensitized to. Media reports of large numbers of coordinated groups stalking individual stalking victims, including a press interview given by an active duty police lieutenant, have described this community-based harassment as gang stalking.