Bystander Resources

Bystander Intervention Training

In response to the current U.S. political climate, Hollaback! is providing webinar trainings on how to do your part to protect your neighbors when bigotry and harassment collide in front of you. Sign up for the next training here. You can also scroll down for a super-mini-training from our vlog.

Hollaback! Bystander Intervention Training Webinar Image


What’s worse than being targeted for harassment because of your race, sex, religion, color, gender, size, orientation, disability, religion, or origin? Being targeted while surrounded by a bunch of strangers who choose to remain passive bystanders.

You’ve read the stories, you know who we’re talking about: the “it’s none of my business” guy, the “he doesn’t mean anything by it guy, or the woman who approaches you after – not to ask if you need help, but to pay an irrelevant compliment.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Hollaback! partnered with the bystander program Green Dot to develop tools to help you intervene when you see harassment happen on the street and in other public spaces. We’ve got guidance for you in the form of the Five D’s.

Street Harassment: A Bystander's Guide InfographicWhat are the Five d’s?

You can make a choice to actively and visibly take a stand against harassment. The Five D’s are different methods you can use to support someone who’s being harassed, emphasize that harassment is not okay, and demonstrate to people in your life that they too have the power to make the community safer.

The Five D’s are direct, distract, delegate, delay, and document. You can use the first three in the moment to interrupt harassment. You can also delay and check in with the person who was harassed directly after the incident.


You may want to directly respond to harassment by naming what is happening or confronting the harasser. This tactic can be risky: the harasser may redirect their abuse towards you and may escalate the situation. Before you decide to respond directly, assess the situation: Are you physically safe? Is the person being harassed physically safe? Does it seem unlikely that the situation will escalate? Can you tell if the person being harassed wants someone to speak up? If you can answer yes to all of these questions, you might choose a direct response.

  • Tell the harasser to knock it off, that you’ll summon the authorities if they continue, that they’re being disrespectful or gross, that what they’re doing is harassment.
  • Take a picture or video with your phone and let the harasser know you’re recording them.
  • Ask the target if they’re alright, offer to accompany them to their destination, make empathetic eye contact, stand near them so they’re not alone with the harasser, ask them if there’s anything you can do to help.

Distraction is a subtler way to intervene. The aim here is simply to derail the incident by interrupting it.


Delegation is a helpful tactic for bystander intervention. Delegate tasks by asking a specific person or resource for help.

  • Find the store supervisor or a transit authority work and ask them to intervene.
  • Call 311 or 911 (if it is safe) to request help.
  • Get your friend on board and have them distract while you check in with the person being harassed.
  • Give another bystander a specific assignment.

Even if you can’t act in the moment, you can make a difference for the person who has been harassed.

  • Ask them if they’re okay and tell them you’re sorry that happened to them.
  • Ask them if there’s any way you can support them.
  • Offer to accompany them to their destination or sit with them for awhile.
  • Share resources with them and offer to help them make a report if they want to.

It can be really helpful to record an incident as it happens to someone, but there are a number of things to keep in mind to safely and responsibly document harassment.

  1. First, assess the situation. Is anyone helping the person being harassed? If not, use one of the other four D’s.
  2. If someone else is already helping out, assess your own safety. If you are safe, go ahead and start recording. A few tips:
    • Make sure to keep a safe distance.
    • Film landmarks (e.g. a street sign or subway platform sign).
    • Clearly state the date and time that you are filming.
  3. ALWAYS ask the person who was harassed what they want to do with the recording. NEVER post it online or use it without their permission.

* A note about safety: We don’t ever want you to get hurt trying to help someone out. Always think about safety and consider possibilities that are unlikely to put you or anyone else in harm’s way.

Once you’ve acted, share your story on Hollaback! You’ll inspire others to take action, and give hope to people who experience harassment on the regular that there are folks out there ready to have their backs.

With Love and Revolution: Bystander Intervention

More BYSTANDER Tactics

In addition to responding in the moment, there are other steps you can take to change culture and prevent violence in your community.

You can fight harassment in your day-to-day life. There are plenty of ways to do that.

  • Sign the pledge to do your part to have people’s back when you witness harassment.
  • Support folks on Hollaback!. Read some of the Hollaback blog posts and let folks know you’ve got their back.
  • Become a HeartMobber and practice bystander intervention online. Sign up at HeartMob to become a HeartMobber and learn how to support people facing online harassment.
  • Share the love on social media. The more people out there that know we exist, the more impact we have. Invite your Facebook friends to our Facebook page, give @ihollaback a shout-out on Twitter, and follow and re-post us on Instagram.
  • Any time you see someone practicing bystander intervention, tell them they’re awesome! A little positive reinforcement goes a long way.

If you’ve got a little more time to give, you can learn up or contribute.

Got a lot more time? Start organizing.

  • Find a Hollaback! in your community and volunteer.
  • Launch a Hollaback! in your community if there are no Hollaback! chapters near you.
  • Organize an action using our Holla! How-To guides.


The specific application of Green Dot to harassment is a collaborative between Hollaback! and the awesome folks at Green Dot, etc.