The #MeToo movement is sweeping across the country to raise awareness about harassment and foster community support for those affected.
Garrett Johnson (who requested his name be changed) discussed his experience when an ex-boyfriend attacked him outside of a nightclub. He said he felt uneasy upon arriving to the nightclub, but brushed the anxiety aside.
“The next thing I remember, he had shoved me hard enough to fall down and his hands wrapped around my throat. He slammed my head against the ground three times before others pulled him off and I ran. I was terrified; I thought he would kill me. And I thought it was my fault.”
“Make lots of noise and draw attention to the situation so that someone on the outside can call 911,” said Cheryl Sheppard, communications advisor for EPS. “Any person who feels they’ve been a victim of a crime, that includes harassment, is encouraged to contact the Edmonton Police Service as soon as possible.”
EPS encourages citizens to report all incidents of harassment. “If we don’t know about it, there’s not a whole lot we can do,” said Sheppard. “When we know about it, then we can do something about it. If something is happening in the moment, it’s important to call 911, otherwise call the complaint line at 780.423.4567.”
“At the time I didn’t know what to do. I always thought I’d fight in a situation like that, but I felt helpless instead,” said Johnson.
According to Edmonton Police Service, harassment is repeatedly following a person or people they know; repeatedly indirectly or directly communicating with a person or people they know; watching wherever that person or people they know happen to be; and threatening or harming someone or people they know.
There are many ways to react to harassment proactively. Available resources include an emergency protection order, a restraining order, and a peace bond.
An Emergency Protection Order is specific to family violence and is used for immediate protection and if violence will continue.
Ask about a peace bond if someone has threatened you, and if you have “reasonable fear” for your safety, your spouse’s safety, or your child’s safety. A peace bond may also help if you think someone intends to damage your property.
Restraining orders are non-criminal court orders with specific conditions, such as forbidding contact with someone.
According to the EPS website, if you think you are being harassed you should: record all incidents, don’t initiate contact, and don’t approach the person in question.
“This is the first time I’ve told [my] story outside of my close friends,” said Johnson. “I believe awareness is important so that victims of harassment can feel safe when telling their story. Being unaware of harassment leads us to treat victims without listening; I have never believed that is the correct way.”
Featured Image: Harassment includes repeatedly following someone. | Pixabay