Use these practical tips on de-escalating instances of harassment and oppressive interpersonal violence. Content adapted by AFSC from Abbey Fox, Thought Catalogue, Jes Skolnik, Hollaback, and the People’s Response Team.
Distraction is a subtle and creative way to intervene. Distract either the harasser or the target with conversation unrelated to the harassment to derail and de-escalate the situation. Examples:
Ask for directions; Spill your drink “accidentally;”
Pretend you know one of them.
Bring in a 3rd party to help, possibly someone with more perceived authority. Examples:
Alert a store manager, bus driver, club bouncer, or someone else to help intervene. Do not call the police unless requested.
Respond directly to the aggressor or physically intervene if necessary. Be confident, assertive, calm. Examples:
Walk up to engage a street harasser and directly ask them to stop their behavior.
If you can’t intervene in the moment, you can check in with the person being harassed afterwards to see if you can do anything to support them, illustrating that they are not alone. Examples:
“Is everything okay? Is there anything I can do?” “Is there someone we can call?” “Can I buy you a cup of coffee?”