This post is not original to me but is especially well done. It was written by a Paris-based illustrator and filmmaker who goes by the handle Maeril on Tumblr . She has posted a short and helpful illustrated how-to guide for bystanders who want to help someone being bullied in a public place. I found it first in a blog by Maddy Myers, and reposted by Mary Sue.
It’s one of the best I’ve seen and is useful whenever we find ourselves in these situations. I’ve used it!
1.) Engage conversation [with the person experiencing harassment, not their attacker]. Go to them, sit beside them and say hello. Try to appear calm, collected and welcoming. IGNORE THE ATTACKER.
2.) Pick a random subject and start discussing it. It can be anything: a movie you liked, the weather, saying you like something they wear and asking where they got it…
3.) Keep building the safe space. Keep eye contact with them and don’t acknowledge the attacker’s presence: the absence of response from you two will push them to leave the area shortly.
4.) Continue the conversation until the attacker leaves and escort them to a safe place if necessary. Bring them to a neutral area where they can recollect themselves; respect their wishes if they tell you they’re ok and just want to go.
Maeril told Buzzfeed that the comic is inspired by a psychological concept called “non-complementary behavior,” which involves responding to an aggressor with a warm demeanor, rather than responding with further aggression that could escalate the conflict. In Maeril’s example, the guide also relies on specifically caring for the person being attacked and centering their comfort, as well as their ability to leave the situation safely. It’s a great set of tips for defusing a horrible situation, and it could end up ensuring the safety of someone else with only a few minutes of emotional effort on your part.