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BYSTANDER INTERVENTION THREAD: Some basics. When we see someone being harassed or intruded upon in public, it’s common to worry if you intervene either a) it’s not for you to get involved in someone else’s business and/or b) you’re gonna have to get in a fight. Right?
2/ Well, there’s actually a huge range of options between doing nothing, and roundhouse kicking someone in the face (tho sometimes this is a great move ngl). A great thing to do is instead of focusing on the harasser: try approaching the person being harassed.
3/ Disrupting the moment in small ways can make a huge diff W/OUT escalating the situation: ask for directions or pretend you know them; position your body so they can turn away from the harasser and close them out, or just go and sit next to or opposite so they know you’re there
4/ Ask other ppl around you if they’ve noticed what’s going on and suggest you go intervene together, or split up to engage both parties and give the person experiencing the harassment a chance to move away.
5/ CHECK IN- this is important. When someone is being disempowered, do not replicate that by coming in trying to “rescue” them- when you can, ask if they’re ok, ask how they want to be supported, give them options, and if they don’t want your help- respect that.
6/ More often than not, things don’t escalate when you use these kinds of tactics. Ofc don’t do anything super unsafe, but when we don’t intervene out of fear, we prioritise our wellbeing over someone who is experiencing violence RN: we must consider all available options.
7/ If you’re really not ok to intervene, check in after the incident. It still makes a huge difference. The trauma basically doubles when you find your feelings invalidated by the fact that all these strangers standing around won’t even acknowledge what just happened to you.
8/ The difference all this makes is not only to one individual, but to the culture that we live in that makes harassment acceptable, because it so often goes unchallenged. To shift this, we have to make everyone’s safety our business.
So glad ppl are finding this helpful! If you’re interested, I run bystander intervention trainings with @hollabackLDN you can book us for events or to come to your work/uni/school and we can practice being active bystanders together! Email
We have booked a public training for 22nd Sept in London, for anyone who wants to come learn more about harassment, how to support vulnerable ppl in public space, and practice their intervention skills!… Hope to see lots of you there!
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