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If you experience street harassment, it can leave a major impact on your life. Although street harassment is very broad and can occur in many different ways, every form is reprehensible and it is even possible to be traumatised by it. How do you deal with this and is there a treatment available to get rid of the trauma?
Street harassment means an unwelcome approach in a public space in a verbal, non-verbal or physical way. This can be anything from hissing, whistling, staring, calling names, stalking or groping. Street harassment can eventually lead to sexual assault, rape or violence. In the Netherlands, there is currently no ban on street harassment. This has everything to do with freedom of speech. Someone can feel threatened by intimidation, while the person who intimidates is not aware of his/her behaviour and may even think it is normal. This makes it not only difficult to enforce, but also very difficult to criminalise street harassment.
A special mention goes to sexual street harassment. By far the most forms of street harassment are about this. It is therefore not surprising that women, but also people from the LGBT+ group are often victims of this. It is a very disturbing form of intimidation and at the same time also very difficult to criminalise. It is about mostly men who make advances towards women or others with often sexual remarks or certain gestures and often do not stop at a remark, but follow it up. This can be very frightening, especially if it takes place in places with few people or in the evening.
Anyone can be a victim of street harassment, but women are usually the group who suffer the most. If the harassment becomes really threatening, be sure to call 112. They can give you tips on how to react and the police will be dispatched. If there are several people walking in the street, try to make contact, if necessary in a subtle way. People will be willing to help you, but not everyone will immediately realise that you are being intimidated. If you have found someone willing to walk with you, you will immediately feel safer.
Every person is different and every person reacts differently in certain situations. This also applies to street harassment. One victim may easily put it aside, while another may find it difficult to come to terms with it. If you are actually traumatised by street harassment, the consequences can be enormous. The fear will often dominate, making you afraid to go out on the street (alone). Loneliness and social isolation then lie in wait. You must always realise that harassment is never your fault. You never have to adapt, you can be yourself. If you continue to experience psychological problems, seek help. You have to be able to use public spaces without fear.
If you are a victim who cannot function normally because you have been traumatised by street harassment, seek help. You have experienced intimidation and now you need to find a place for it. Only then will you dare to go out on the street again with self-confidence, otherwise you will continue to be afraid and will avoid public places as much as possible. EMDR is the treatment that gets you further.
During an EMDR treatment, the therapist asks you to remember the trauma. This can be quite intens, because the thoughts and feelings of that moment come up again. At this moment the therapist will distract you by means of a hand gesture and sometimes you will be given headphones and you will be distracted with sound tones. Somehow, something happens in your brain, which allows the trauma to be given a place. Especially if you are repeatedly distracted, it will be easier to recall the trauma with less emotions. You will notice that after a few treatments you will already be walking around much more confidently.
The developers of Psylaris are working hard to make mental health treatment more accessible for the client and easier to use for the practitioner. With modern techniques, EMDR can be given more frequently. Psylaris has developed EMDR-VR for example. This is the use of virtual reality for EMDR. The client wears VR glasses and is distracted in a fairly intensive way. The practitioner has many more distractions available with EMDR-VR .
This also applies to the practitioner for EMDR-remote.. This is an online and secure platform for remote EMDR developed by Psylaris. The client can then simply be treated from home. A good solution if the trauma is so severe that the client does not dare to go out anymore for treatment. For EMDR-remote, nothing needs to be downloaded, the platform is accessible through a web browser.
The goal of Psylaris is to support therapists even better with innovative techniques and tools. Virtual reality plays a leading role in this. With EMDR-VR and EMDR-plus an EMDR treatment is possible using virtual reality. The practitioner can use distraction tasks even better and the client can also be treated remotely. Virtual reality is ideally suited for exposure therapy. The client is confronted with his/her fears. It is no longer necessary to visit a physical location, such as an elevator in case of elevator fear or a shopping mall in case of agoraphobia. With the VR glasses on, the client is confronted with the fear in the safe environment of the treatment room or his/her home. Psylaris has developed modules for various types of fears that require exposure therapy. This saves costs and time, and the client can be treated more frequently, which results in a faster recovery.
We believe with the combination of intelligent software and qualified therapists we can develop a system in which everyone, anytime and anywhere has direct access to efficient and affordable psychological care.