When it comes to harassment women have a hard time in getting the harassment to stop. The legal system does not have a system set up that would allow women peace of mind by legally forcing a harasser to stop. When we have a president who has committed offenses himself there is little hope.
For about 2 years I experienced unwanted harassment from a man and no one would do anything about it. I asked him nicely to leave me alone to his face at first. He agreed he would leave me alone and walked away. However the harassment did not end there. I ended up going to the police, my rabbis and members of the political organizations to which we both belonged. I was unable to get help from anyone. I ended up being treated like I was the one doing something wrong.
What is harassment?
According to Merriam-Webster the definition of harassment is: to annoy persistently,
to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct.
Being Harassed at Synagogue
In my case my harasser would come to my synagogue and harass me during our Torah study and services. This happened at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle, WA. I complained to a rabbi and office staff that this was taking place. They listened to me and did absolutely nothing, even though his harassment was witnessed by others and recorded on video. Instead I was treated as though I was a pain in the neck, I was unreasonable. Meanwhile the harassment continued.
The rabbis at Temple de Hirsch went along with the harassment and participated in some of it themselves. I wondered where in the Torah does it say that a congregant who only wants to go to synagogue to pray and attend services should be harassed. I wondered why religious leaders would teach others, especially young men, that it is ok to harass women if you do not like them because nothing will happen to you and all that will happen is that the victim will be humiliated and embarrassed in public. I felt I was being punished for standing up for myself.
The problem comes down to money. My harasser had a lot more money than I do, so he could do more to support the synagogue. His bad behavior would be overlooked because he donated a generous amount every year and apparently I do not matter at all. I feel I should have been able to attend synagogue without being harassed.
Using Legal Means to Stop Harassment
I tried using legal means to stop his harassment. I filed a restraining order. According to the court the police were unable to serve my harasser. I went to the appointed court date anyway. The judge was a man and has no sympathy for me. He laughed and said nothing would be done.
The Emotional Toll of Harassment
Constantly being harassed by someone you repeatedly ask to stop takes a huge toll on a person emotionally. First of all for someone not to heed your repeated requests for the harassment to stop has mental issues that need to be addressed. It makes a person feel unsafe to know that anywhere they go that person may show up. I felt like I was being stalked. Knowing no one would help me make him stop made me feel helpless and I began experiencing depression.
In the end it was one of the reasons I moved to California from Washington state. I think I have made the right choice as the women of Hollywood are fighting back. They are setting examples and being role models for other women who are experiencing unwanted harassment. The worst thing a woman can do is to be silent about abuse or harassment. No one should experience abuse or harassment and the culture is shifting to protect those who have become victims.