When you witness someone being put down or hassled right there in front you, what can you do? Authors of the new book I’ve Got Your Back offered this advice in a recent interview.

Harassment is any behavior, verbal or non-verbal, that is unwanted, unwelcome, and makes you uncomfortable.

Authors Emily May and Jorge Arteaga suggest you take action using the five Ds of bystander intervention:

  1. DISTRACT: take the focus off the confrontation by dropping your cell phone, making a scene, or starting a random, unrelated conversation with the person being harassed.
  2. DELEGATE: find someone else to help. We are not talking about calling the police. Many communities do not feel safer with a police presence. You can say to the person next to you, “are you seeing this? I am. Let’s address this together.”
  3. DOCUMENT: some injustices come to light because of people documenting what’s happening. You can take a video or photos, write notes, and/or rally witnesses (see above.) Make sure to allow the person being harassed to choose how and with whom the resulting record gets shared.
  4. DELAY: check in with the person being harassed: “are you okay?” Research shows that something as little as a knowing glance can help reduce trauma for people affected by harassment.
  5. DIRECT: you can directly intervene to stop the harassment. Create a physical distance between the person doing the harassment and the person being harassed. You don’t want to escalate the situation.

Harassment can make all of us feel uncomfortable and helpless. Remembering that we can take action to stop the injustice brains agency and possibility

back to our lives. We are here to take care of each other.

FREE bystander training is available from Right To Be, a nonprofit founded in 2010 to document and stop harassment.

In your journal:

  • Write about a time when you were harassed or witnessed harassment.
  • List some examples of unwanted, unwelcome, harassing behavior.
  • Draw what harassment feels like.