We recently discussed the topic of racism on Cozy Conversations with The Sister Project. Be sure to tune into the episode for even more on this very important topic.
Michelle and I thought it would be really helpful to cover ways to help fellow humans if you find yourself a witness to harassment and/or racism so we dedicated an entire podcast episode to this very important topic.
Within the episode, we offered tools and tips to help approach the situation safely and mindfully.
It takes courage to speak up. It’s not uncommon to feel frozen at the moment, unsafe, or unsure of what to do to help the victim.
Below are some ideas to help you feel confident and safe for when you need to speak up and take some action.
Please tune into our podcast episode 54, What To Do and Not Do If You Witness Racism and Harassment, for our full conversation.
Being witness to an attack or harassment is very intense and can drum up anxiety, nerves, and fear. Before doing anything, take a few deep breaths. Look around and notice where you are, the other people also present, the aggressor, the victim, and the situation that is taking place.
Then pause and take a few more breaths.
Focus on the targeted person.
Make eye contact with the person being harassed and tend to their needs. Ask them “do you need help?”, “are you okay?”
They may not take you up on the offer for help, but at least they know that someone is aware, concerned, and ready to help if need be.
Or, you asking if they are in need of help is exactly what they needed.
Record the situation.
Photographic and video footage can be really helpful in the event authorities are involved or the aggressor gets away.
But, and this is a huge BUT, if you feel the need to post anything on social media, do not do so before getting approval from the victim. Having to relive this moment over and over can add to the trauma they have already experienced.
Directly speak to the aggressor.
Without calling them names, as this can greatly escalate a situation, some recommended talking points to say directly to the aggressor are:
“Hey, why would you say something like that?”
“What you just said was wrong and won’t be tolerated here.”
This shows the individual that they are becoming outnumbered and their aggressive behavior towards the victim is being called out by others.
It can also serve as a distraction.
Alert the authorities.
Depending on where you are, get the person in charge involved. This could be a train conductor, a store/restaurant manager, lifeguard, or bus driver. These individuals can hopefully help de-escalate the situation by asking the aggressor to leave. If it escalates – police may have to be involved.
There is strength in numbers. Gather another person or people to come up with a plan and help diffuse the situation. It is recommended to call them out so they know who you are talking to. Something like, “Hey you, in the red sweater, want to help out?”
Perhaps one person can help monitor the situation while the other goes for help from someone in charge.
Don’t do nothing.
Doing nothing is the worst thing you can do. Put yourself in their shoes. If someone was harassing you or someone you love, would you want everyone to sit, stare ahead and ignore what’s happening? Or would you hope they’d take notice, speak up, and help?
By doing absolutely nothing while someone is harassing another human for their race, sexuality, gender, etc. you are in a very loud way saying you’re ok with it.