Notice the potential risks
Start by asking yourself:
Are you putting yourself, others, or the person being hurt at risk?
Rather than directly intervening, is there something else you can do to lessen the risk?
Notice what you are feeling.
- Do you feel unsafe or do you feel uncomfortable?
- If you feel uncomfortable, consider why are you feeling that way.
- If you are not part of the group being targeted, you have the power to create change!
If it's safe - Distract
- Create a distraction that takes the attention off of the person experiencing abuse (ie. ring the doorbell if you hear neighbours fighting).
- Ask for the time.
- Pretend to be lost; ask for directions.
- Approach the person experiencing the abuse and pretend you know them. Chat with them, help them feel like they’re not alone.
- ALWAYS respect the wishes of the person experiencing abuse.
If it's safe - Delay
- Approach the person experiencing abuse, and ask them if you can help.
- Always listen to their answer and respect their personal space.
- Tell them you’re sorry the abuse is happening, and let them know you’re there to support them.
- Ask them if you can call someone for them – whether it be a friend, family member or the police.
- Respect their wishes if they do not want the police/security to get involved.
Often, just by standing with the person being abused, the abuser will leave them alone.
- Tell the abuser their behaviour/actions are inappropriate and to stop it.
- It can be risky to get involved directly, so be sure that it’s SAFE to do so.
- If you don’t feel it’s SAFE for you, there are still things you can do!
If it's safe - Delegate
- Talk to someone in charge – the manager, the teacher, the bus driver etc.
- Join forces with other bystanders, and share the bystander roles (ie. make sure someone supports the person being abused, and/or someone talks to a person in charge, etc.).
- Share the bystander responsibilities, and help instruct people so they know what to do.
- Call security or the police – if possible, make sure the person you’re supporting wants this.
- Document: Note as many details about the situation as you can, and write them down.
- Assess the situation and make sure the person experiencing abuse has the support they need.
- If it’s safe to do so, take pictures or video for security.
- Always ensure your own safety, and the safety of the person experiencing abuse.