What should I do if I witness sexual harassment, abuse or violence?

If you are in a situation where you are witnessing sexual abuse, there are things you can do to support the victim, if is it safe to do so. It is important to assess whether intervening could cause yourself or the victim harm or trauma but it can also be a powerful show of support. 

What should I do if I hear someone make a joke about rape?

If it’s safe to do so, approach the speaker with gentle curiosity, encouraging them to think about their words in a different way. For instance, asking them to explain what they meant by it or whether they would still make the joke if they knew someone who had experienced rape was within earshot?

What if I’m out and I see someone grope someone else?

If you’re able to, approach the victim and check if they’re okay.  You could pretend to know them to deter the perpetrator. You could explain that you saw what happened and if you’re in a public venue you could offer to tell the manager or stay with them whilst they leave the venue or until the other person has left.

What should I do if I see someone being assaulted or attacked?

As with any other type of violent crime, if someone witnesses a physical assault, they should call the police.

What are the 4 D’s?

The 4 D’s of Bystander Intervention is a technique that can be used to intervene in situations where someone is being harassed or threatened. The 4 D’s are Direct, Distract, Delegate, and Delay.

  • Direct: Call out negative behavior, tell the person to stop, or ask the victim if they are okay. Do this as a group if you can. Be polite and don’t aggravate the situation – remain calm and state why something has offended you.
  • Distract: Interrupt the situation by distracting the perpetrator. This can be done by asking for directions, spilling a drink, or starting a conversation with the victim.
  • Delegate: Get someone else to help you intervene, such as a friend or someone in authority.
  • Delay: Wait until the situation has ended and then check on the victim. Let them know that you saw what happened and that you are there to help.

Remember, when it comes to intervening safely, your personal safety is a priority. If you see someone in trouble, ask yourself if you can help safely in any way. Learning to recognise when someone is in danger and how you can intervene safely is an essential skill

If you see someone being catcalled and harassed in the street or continually receiving unwanted advances?

You don’t want to do anything to exacerbate the situation but you could, for example, offer to wait with someone at the bus stop, call them a cab, or call the police. Providing affirmation that it’s not okay and you’re on the victim’s side is a powerful way to support them and help them to recover.

How can I learn more about what to do if I see someone being sexually harassed?

We offer Bystander Training, which helps you to:

  • Understand what a bystander is and the role they can play
  • Recognise your own personal boundaries on acceptable behaviours and intervention
  •  Understand the issues you need to consider when witnessing an event
  • Understand the correct and safe ways to intervene

To find our more go to RSACC TRAINING