Stand Up Against Street Harassment FAQ


When we see someone fall, or drop something in public, we instinctively help out. Why don’t we have the same reaction when we see someone being sexually harassed? We see it happen, but uncomfortably look away. We feel the urge to speak up, but stay cautiously silent. We all want to do something about it, but don’t know what. Or worse, we end up thinking it’s “not a big deal.” Not knowing what constitutes street harassment and what to do, limits our ability to take action, chipping away at the self-worth of men and women who suffer from street harassment.

L’Oréal Paris and the NGO Hollaback! have therefore joined forces to protect the self-worth of women and men, creating a set of proven tools to help people safely intervene when they are a victim or witness to harassment in public spaces.

The goal of the Stand Up Against Street Harassment program is to train 1,000,000 people to become Upstanders and ultimately build a culture where street harassment is seen as unacceptable behavior.



Street harassment is sexual, gender-based, and bias-motivated harassment that takes place in public spaces like the street, the supermarket, and the social media we use every day. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups of our vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Street harassment can happen to anyone, but disproportionately punishes women, girls, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups for being themselves in the world.

Street harassment is on a spectrum of gender-based violence. At one end of the spectrum, we have examples like inappropriate gestures, staring, whistling, following, and comments about your appearance or identity.  As we move along the spectrum we start to see more severe forms of street harassment like public exposure and groping that are illegal.  We include these behaviors in how we define street harassment because they are so common, pervasive, and rarely reported to authorities.

Street harassment is not about sexual gratification. It’s about power. If street harassment were about getting dates, it would be what author Marty Langelan calls a “spectacularly unsuccessful strategy.” Instead, street harassment is about “putting people in their place.”

At Hollaback!, we believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it. If you feel like you have been harassed, we believe you, we support you, and we invite you to share your story.



Remember that it’s not your fault. And because it’s not your fault, it’s also not your responsibility to have the perfect response to street harassment. It’s their responsibility not to harass you.

While everyone is vulnerable to street harassment, research suggests that people who are aware of their surroundings, walk with confidence, and respond confidently to harassment are less vulnerable. Nevertheless, direct confrontations with people who harass can escalate, particularly if you are alone or in an unpopulated space. While it is each individual’s right to decide when, how, and whether to respond to street harassment, it’s important to prioritize your safety and wellbeing. To learn more about how to respond to harassment, check out the training on the Stand Up  Against Street Harassment website.

If you want support, we’ve got your back. Read on to find out how to report harassment on Hollaback!’s website or via the app. If you’re thinking bigger picture, you can take action here and even start a Hollaback! site in your community.



We believe that bystander intervention is a key intervention because it puts power in the hands of community members. We do not strategies that further criminalize harassment because we believe that the root street harassment is bias — not “a few bad apples.”

Historically we’ve seen that criminal law and punishment are disproportionately applied to people of color, low-income individuals, and trans and gender-nonconforming people. As advocates, we steer policymakers away from measures that would increase criminalization that predominantly affects these groups, and toward measures that engage communities in prevention. Replacing sexist oppression with racist oppression is not a proper hollaback.  As we explained in a 2013 Huffington Post article:

Criminalizing verbal harassment and unwanted gestures is neither the final goal nor the ultimate solution to this problem and can, in fact, inadvertently work against the growth of an inclusive anti-harassment movement. The criminal justice system disproportionately targets and affects low-income communities and communities of color, as evidenced by policies such as New York City’s Stop and Frisk program and other degrading forms of racial profiling. Our objective is to address and shift cultural and social dialogues and attitudes of patriarchy that purport street harassment as simply the price you pay for being a woman or being LGBTQ. It is not to re-victimize men already discriminated against by the system.

We recommend policy solutions that expand bystander intervention education, improve research and reporting mechanisms, train police and transit officers, engage local businesses, and bring together diverse community members to facilitate “community safety audits.”



Hollaback! has been working on the issue of street harassment for 15 years, since 2005. We are a global leader in the movement to end harassment. What started as a blog launched by youth to share personal experiences of harassment quickly turned into a global initiative. Hollaback! works in communities to understand the problem, ignite public conversations, and develop innovative strategies that result in safe and welcoming environments for all.  We’re honored to be able to bring this work to scale in partnership with L’Oreal Paris through the Stand Up Against Street Harassment campaign.


Sharing your story of harassment is a powerful way to show others that street harassment is a problem. On a personal level, it can also help facilitate healing. Here are three simple ways to do it:

  • Download our free apps for iPhone and Android.
  • Submit your story right here, on our website.
  • Text your story to [email protected] (put the email address where the numbers usually go) and we’ll receive it via email. You can even send a picture or the location of your harassment so we can map it.

Please note our anti-discrimination policy: We will not fight street harassment at the expense of oppressed people, and part of that is omitting irrelevant details about harassers’ race. We will not accept submissions that play up stereotypes based in racism. Same for classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and the usage of any other identity signifier. Harassment comes from people in every facet of our cultures and every stratum of society.  We ask that you refrain from referencing the attributes of your harasser, because this movement is about changing societal values, not pointing fingers. If you feel those details are important to your story, please make sure their relevance is explained clearly and constructively in your post.



Over the next two years, we’ll be training partnering nonprofit organizations in countries where L’Oreal Paris has operations to deliver our bystander intervention training on the ground. The training will be adapted in each country to ensure cultural relevance.  In the United States, we’ll be training people directly.


WHAT DOES THE NAME “Stand Up Against Street Harassment” MEAN?

We wanted a name that inspired people to take action by standing up for each other.  We want to be clear though — you don’t need to physically stand up to intervene or otherwise respond to harassment. Our methodology offers concrete ways that people can “stand up” regardless of their ability.



In 2012 we partnered with Green Dot to adapt their bystander approach to intervening in situations of sexual assault to the context of street harassment. Green Dot’s approach offers three strategies: “direct,” “distract,” and “delegate.”  Using feedback from our community, we iterated the model over the ensuing years to include “delay” and “document.” We’ve trained over 20,000 people using this methodology.


  • Bystander Intervention in the Workplace Training.  Our research shows that as little as a knowing glance can reduce trauma in the face of harassment, but the wrong response can actually increase trauma. We equip employees with the right information on how to be an effective bystander in the midst of workplace harassment using our proven 5D’s methodology; 97% of employees leave our training committing to intervene next time they see disrespect or harassment.
  • Annual Sexual Harassment In the Workplace Training.  We provide a robust, interactive sexual harassment training that is compliant with US state, city, and federal laws. Our training is unique in that it explores all forms of harassment — not just sexual harassment, and includes elements of bystander intervention training. Not sure if sexual harassment training is required in your state? Click here to see the laws across the US.
  • De-Escalation Training. If you interface with the public — chances are there are moments where things are heated and you are expected to know what to do. Our “Observe, Breathe, Connect” methodology ensures you are armed with de-escalation techniques so that you can show up into these moments confidently.
  • Resilience Training. Our workshops provide tools for individuals to successfully manage stress, meet timelines, and manage roles and responsibilities, while also facilitating better communication, conflict management and rapport across teams.
  • Digital Safety Training. We’ll teach you how to prevent online harassment and violence through preventative measures designed to ensure safety. We also offer training and consulting packages for management seeking to shore up their organization’s infrastructure to support their staff in the event of online harassment or violence.
  • Generative Conflict Training.  The ability to be in productive, generative conflict is one of the markers of a high-performing team. Before the training, individuals take a conflict assessment to learn what their approach to conflict looks like. Together we’ll explore how that shows up in a team dynamic and identify tools to make conflict meaningful.



Our bystander intervention training is digitally available to everyone on

For free in-person trainings in the US and Canada through our Stand Up Against Street Harassment partnership, we only work with selected partners. To be considered, email us at [email protected].

We also provide trainings for a fee. To learn more about those trainings, email us at [email protected].



Here are some of our plans for 2020:

  • Launch at 5 new Hollaback! sites globally.  What the movement needs now isn’t what the movement needed five years ago. Our team has spent 2019 figuring out how we can adapt our successful global site leader training program to meet the needs of the next decade. In 2020 we’ll unveil our results and launch the next generation of Hollaback! leaders in the global movement to end harassment.
  • Collect 2,000 stories of harassment. Movements stop when we stop telling our stories. To keep the energy of the #metoo movement strong, we need to continue to find and improve pathways for storytelling. In 2020 we’ll improve our apps and online storytelling platform to bring in more stories than ever.
  • Make workplace equity accessible. We’ve been proving training sexual harassment prevention and bystander training to high-profile, values-aligned companies like Vox Media, Bandcamp, and NASA Jet Propulsion Lab over the past two years. In 2020, we’re looking for more ways to bring these same training materials to people who don’t work at companies that prioritize sexual harassment prevention efforts — and who need better support to mitigate the impacts of sexual harassment in the workplace.