Reactions to being hazed vary. Two people who go through the same experience might feel quite differently. Some people feel relatively positive about going through hazing (seeing it as an achievement), some feel mildly annoyed, and others have strong negative reactions. Reactions depend on the extent of the hazing, individual characteristics, and past experiences. For people who have been abused in the past, hazing can be re-traumatizing.
Anger, confusion, betrayal, fear, resentment, embarrassment, humiliation, hopelessness, helplessness, anxiety and depression are all normal reactions to being hazed. Some individuals have become suicidal. Physical consequences can include exhaustion, headaches, hangovers, illnesses, injuries, and scars. It's common to believe that things won't get worse, though they often do. You may want the hazing to stop, but don't want to get the group in trouble. You may want to leave, but fear the consequences or feel like you've invested too much already to walk away. Self-blame can occur and is fueled by hazers who tell new members that they will let others down if they leave or tell anyone what is going on.
What you can do
- Call Wittenberg Police at 937-327-6231 if there is an immediate threat to your safety or the safety of others.
- REPORT the hazing, anonymously if you prefer.
- Stay connected with friends outside of the group. Groups that haze often try to isolate their new members from others who might challenge them to question what they are going through.
- Talk with others about what you are going through. You do not have to keep it a secret. Demanding secrecy is a common practice designed to protect people who are abusing others. You have a right to tell anyone anything you want about what you are going through, even if you were made to promise that you would not do so.
- Seek guidance from your parents/guardian or other family member.
- Refuse to participate. Others before you have done so.
- Join together with other new members to refuse to be hazed. There is power in numbers because groups depend on getting new members to join. Some fraternity members admit that they became very worried when it appeared that a group of new members might rebel, because the financial consequences to the group would be serious if the new members left. Hazers don't want new members to realize how much power they have, so they work hard to keep them subjugated.
- Leave the group. This is hard to do, but is always an option. Walking away from hazing takes strength. Don't believe it if anyone who tries to tell you that it is sign of weakness or that you weren't tough enough to hack it. Quitting when you are being hazed takes character, courage and integrity. There are likely others in the group that will leave with you but need someone like you to take the first step.
- Talk with a health care provider or mental health professional to help you sort out what to do.