Making our society a safer place for women is a collective responsibility of men as well as women. We can always help others in trouble, such as by offering a safe ride home from a party, directly confronting an offender or calling the cops if a situation gets out of control. It takes a sense of social responsibility and a little bit of courage to extend a helping hand to someone in need. Following are a few tips on how you can help others when they are in distress.

Stop being just a bystander

What would you do if you see a group of hooligans teasing or harassing a woman on a street or in a public place? Would you take some action or will just remain a silent bystander? Often people choose not to get involved even when a sexual offense is taking place in front of their eyes. These people either prefer to watch the incidence from a distance or simply pass by, turning a blind eye to the crime. If some of these people could gather little courage and confront the offenders or at least call the police, it can save an innocent victim from a serious sexual assault.

What can you do to stop a sexual assault?

Have you heard the term “bystander intervention”? It describes the situation where someone who is not directly involved in a situation steps in to change the outcome of that situation. Your intervention can be life-saving to the person in trouble. Firstly, just the fact that someone is on her side will boost her confidence and she won’t feel isolated and helpless. She will get a chance and inspiration to fight-back, try to get help or escape from the situation.

This doesn’t mean that you need to perform heroic acts of bravery to save a damsel in distress – as is shown in the movies! All you need to do is to create some stir so that other people around will also become aware that something wrong is happening. Confront, shout, call the security, or do anything that your common sense tells you to do at the moment. Do whatever you can to distract, confuse or shock the perpetrator. This will allow the victim to take some action for her safety. If enough people confront the offender, he will have no other option but to run for his life.

Taking home a friend who is too drunk, explaining that a rape joke is not funny, or getting security involved when someone is being aggressive – all these seemingly small actions can help people think about and respond differently to sexual violence.

Why don’t people help more often?

We understand that it is not always easy to step-in in spite of your best intentions. Sometimes it can be risky to do so. However, often people have the following excuses for not trying to help a victim:

  • “I don’t know what to do or say.”
  • “I don’t want to create a scene.”
  • “It’s none of my business.”
  • “I don’t want my friend to get mad at me.”
  • “I am sure someone else will step in for help.”
  • All these thoughts are quite normal and reasonable. However, one should keep them aside and try his/her best to intervene so that an innocent life can be saved from a devastating sexual offense.

Your actions matter

Whether your intervention changes the outcome of the situation or not, one thing is certain that the initiative you take will leave a profound impact on other peoples’ minds. Their conscience will get a jolt and they will also be inspired to step out of their comfort zones and help.

So if someone you know has been assaulted sexually; walk up to them and show them that you care. Even that small act of kindness will work as a soothing balm for their pain and will help restore their shattered self-respect and confidence.