“I regret not having done anything!” “I suspected something!” “Everyone knew!” These kinds of comments are common when a case of violence, bullying or harassment becomes public. But by then, it’s already too late. The question is: why?
How to intervene
1. 1. Verbal intervention: The perpetrator must be named, informed that their behaviour, words or actions are causing discomfort and upset, and told that it shouldn’t happen again. Clearly draw the line between what is acceptable and what isn’t.
2. Physical intervention : Another option is to physically step in and alter the interpersonal dynamics. It only takes a few seconds. Pass between the two parties to get an object, document or piece of information. In a video that has been viewed over four million times, two people in a subway car are in the midst of a verbal and physical altercation. “Snackman” positions himself between the two, says nothing and quietly munches away on some chips.
Physical intervention is not possible in all circumstances. It may be necessary to seek help from others (e.g., a manager, professor or colleague) or call 911.
3. Create a diversion or interruption: Ask either person an unrelated question: “Can you help me with the photocopier?” “How do I...?” or “Michael was looking for you. You have to go see him right away.”
4. Support the victim If you can’t intervene during the incident, you can get involved afterwards. Go see the person and ask if they’re OK. Say that you noticed the other person’s behaviour, actions or words. Encourage them to talk about it and seek help from the organization’s staff and resources. See the resources available. (link)
5.5. Report the situation: Witnesses must report the situations they observe to a person in authority. It’s not a matter of spreading rumours or going on a witch hunt, but if you have heard or seen something, you must help stop the situation. Spreading rumours or distorting the truth by telling colleagues can undermine investigations and damage the credibility of testimony. Employers have a legal obligation, but each employee has an obligation too.
What if I witness sexual violence?
It’s important to listen to the victim without passing judging or calling their experience into question. They should also be referred to resources that can provide help.
discrimination, incivility, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.