If you witness or experience a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable; such as physical misconduct, inappropriate jokes, leering or any other inappropriate/offensive behaviour, you can challenge it.
This could either be at the time of the event or afterwards.
Challenging this behaviour is not limited to stopping the incident but also enables us to create safer, more welcoming cultures; if you chose to act after the event it does not make your actions any less important and powerful. We can all play a part in driving a change towards a zero-tolerance culture. Any action creates a positive impact and encourages and empowers others to end bullying and harassment in all its forms.
There are five key ways that you can act, but before you do, ask yourself: is it safe?
Remember: In an emergency, call the police on 999. Never put yourself in danger – only challenge if safe to do so.
If it is safe, what’s the best way to do so?
Acting directly to stop a situation; this could be confronting the perpetrator or checking if the person being harassed is ok. You should only intervene once you have assessed the situation to ensure your personal safety and do this as a group if you can. If you feel able to speak to the person concerned to let them know that their behaviour is unacceptable, remember these steps to Non-Violent Communication:
- Observation without Evaluation: Explain to the person what you specifically object to in a non-judgemental way. Stick to facts and focus on the behaviour not the person
- Express Feelings: Make it clear how you feel about the behaviour, in a non-emotive way
- Express Needs: Explain what you need from the person
- Make a Request: Based on your needs, request the person addresses a change in their behaviour
Interrupt – start a conversation with the perpetrator to allow their potential target to move away or have friends intervene. You could also come up with an idea to get the victim out of the situation such as telling them they need to take a call.
Don’t feel like you are alone. You can speak to our Security Team or any member of RNCM staff.
If you witness or experience harassment when out and about in Manchester, you can alert any member of staff at the establishment you are in who will be able to help you.
If it isn’t possible to intervene at the time, or if intervention would compromise your safety, you can still act after the event. Acting after the event can have just as much impact. Check in with the individual(s) involved in the incident to see if they’re ok, question the perpetrator’s behaviour or report the incident to the College (if onsite at the College) or to the establishment where it occurred or any other appropriate place.
There are so many ways to be an active bystander besides the four listed above. Whether it’s ignoring a sexist joke instead of laughing along, or simply believing that sexual harassment isn’t ok, together we can challenge the culture in which sexual harassment exists.