Bystanders are often in a position to stop harassment and support those who are experiencing it. However, many times we can be anxious or unsure of what to do, so we stand back and allow harassment to go unchallenged.

Being an active bystander means being aware of when a situation constitutes harassment, and choosing to speak up and do something about it. You can read our advice on how to do this below.

While it is important to challenge harassment, it’s also important to ensure your own safety. If you do not feel comfortable challenging the perpetrator directly you can contact someone in a position of authority — for example, a member of security in one of our venues — for support, or wait until the incident is over and then offer your support to the person who experienced it.

Possible course of intervention

1. Name or acknowledge the problematic behaviour. It’s important that we openly identify sexual harassment when we witness it, and avoid using euphemisms that minimise or normalise the behaviour.

Tip: If you call it out and the perpetrator isn’t taking it seriously, try explaining the negative impact even relatively ‘minor’ sexual harassment can have on those who experience it.

2. Use you body language. Giving a perpetrator a disapproving look or rolling your eyes can let them know that sexual harassment isn’t socially acceptable.

Tip: Avoid being confrontational but don’t be afraid to let them know that you and the people you’re with don’t think sexual harassment is ok.

3. Challenge the perpetrator. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can challenge the perpetrator directly, but avoid being threatening. Instead try asking ‘What are you doing?’ or ‘Do you think that’s acceptable?’

Tip: Only confront a perpetrator if you feel comfortable doing so and know others will be able to support you if they become aggressive.

4. Get support. Tackling sexual harassment isn’t just down to you. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to get support from your friends or from someone in a position of authority.

Tip: Any decent bar or club should have a zero tolerance policy to sexual harassment — we do — so don’t be afraid to ask staff for support.

More information

If you’d like to learn more about being an active bystander and challenging sexual harassment, then why not attend one of our free training sessions? Click here to find out more.