Targeted harassment is systematic harassment which purpose is to silence the victim
Targeted harassment means systematic harassment which purpose is to silence the victim and affect the victim’s social or professional activities. This is done, among other things, by threatening, harassing, denigrating, and spreading the victim’s private affairs to the public – the purpose is to put the victim in a bad light in the eyes of the public.
In targeted harassment, people are incited to attack an individual, but the goal is to influence the activities of the organization behind the victim or more comprehensive social goals. The targeted harassment and the fear of it can limit people’s willingness and courage to express themselves and therefore disrupt the atmosphere of public discussion and harm the rule of law.
Targeted harassment usually includes essential element of a crime, but individual acts may be so small that they do not meet the essential elements of a crime. However, the phenomenon must be assessed as a whole so its overall effect can be identified.
In recent years, for example, white-collar workers, journalists, civic activists, police, prosecutors, judges, and politicians have been subjected to targeted harassment.
In practice, targeted harassment often means that the person receives hate mail or that the person is denigrated as an employee or a partner. The person’s private information and photographs can be published on social media, which violates the victim’s integrity.
Targeted harassment is a complicated phenomenon that is difficult to define, which is why the person who has fallen victim to targeted harassment does not necessarily remember or is able to connect everything. The victim needs the support of, for example, his/her employer and to be aware that he/she is not alone with the problem.
You can read more about targeted harassment as a phenomenon, its definition and measures against targeted harassment in the working group report Measures to combat online targeting and shaming more effectively.
Where can you get help?
Contact the Victim Support Finland if you suspect that you have been subjected to targeted harassment and need practical advice and mental support.
Victim Support Finland 116 006: In Finnish Mon-Fri at 9–20 and in Swedish Mon-Fri at 12–14
Legal advice 0800 161 177: Mon–Thu at 17–19
RIKUchat: Mon–Fri at 9–15 and Mon at 17–19
The source used, among others, is Pekka Parviainen’s thesis “Identification of targeted harassment”.