What To Do If You Think Someone Is In Danger on a Night Out
When we are worried someone is being sexually harassed or in danger of being spiked, assaulted or raped, we want to help. This is called being a positive bystander. But often we worry we’ve misread the situation; that it’s not our place to speak up; or even that we might put ourselves in danger if we do.
- Maybe you've seen someone who looks drunk, confused, uncomfortable, or upset and someone is leading them away on their own.
- Maybe you thought you saw someone slip something into someone's drink
- Maybe you’ve seen someone hanging around looking for the drunkest or youngest people at the bar, party or event.
- Maybe you are in a taxi with someone who is really drunk and someone much more sober is taking them home.
- Maybe you don’t know exactly what it is that’s making you feel concerned but there’s just a bad feeling in your gut.
Checking that others are safe is always a good thing to do. If they are safe, and the person with them is looking out for them, then they should appreciate you checking in. But we know it can be really hard to know how to approach these situations and sometimes people react badly to this. So what can we, as positive bystanders, do to help?
Your safety is incredibly important. You can’t help someone else if you are not safe. If you have friends with you, inform them what you’ve seen and get their support in addressing the situation. If you think it won’t be safe for you to approach the situation head on, make sure you or your friends keep an eye on the person you’re worried about and report it.
If you are in a public place, you can report it to a person in authority (a bouncer, bar staff, a manager) or direct to the police. If the person has friends in the area and you know who they are, you can speak to them to tell them your worries.
If you would rather approach the person you’re worried about directly, and you think it is safe to do so, you can try indirect methods. If the person you are worried about seems sober enough to understand, you can try giving them an “out” from the situation. For example: “Oh hi! I haven’t seen you in ages! How are you getting on? I was actually just nipping [down the road / to the bar / outside], do you fancy joining me for a catch up?” This kind of approach gives the potential victim an “out” from situation without angering the potential perpetrator and putting you both in danger.
If you would rather approach the person you’re worried about directly, and you think it is safe to do so, you can try direct methods.
- If you can, make sure you have support from a friend or loved one before approaching. If you can do this together, even better.
- Approach the person you are worried about, ask them if they are okay and how you can help. Be aware they might be afraid to say anything
- If you are still worried and you feel safe enough to do so, you can check with the person accompanying them what their relationship is and what they are doing with them. You can then check with the potential victim if this is true.
- If they are too intoxicated to answer, check with their friends.
- If you feel safe enough to do so, you can point out what specifically has worried you about the situation.
- If the person accompanying them seems irritated by you checking on their safety, or if you still feel that the situation is off, report it.
It's important to remain calm and not put yourself or the person you are concerned about at risk. Only discuss the perpetrators actions with them if you feel that both you and the person you are concerned about will be safe by you addressing this. If you are not sure of the reaction, it is safest to choose a more indirect method.
What If Someone Approaches Me?
If someone approaches you to check if you or your friend, partner or family member is ok remember: this isn’t an insult to your character. By checking in on each other’s safety, we do everyone a favour.