If I have a crush on someone, I first check their level of engagement (Are they not clear-headed due to alcohol or drugs? Are they not interacting with me? I let it go), only then I ask for consent without sexualising them. I listen and respect their answer.
*Them/They is a set of gender-neutral pronouns.
I do not manifest any discriminatory language or behaviour such as comments related to social background, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, physical appearance or clothing.
I respect everyone’s personal space: I do not touch their* bodies (including their clothes, accessories, hair and wigs) without asking for their consent first, even if it’s just for dancing.
I am an active bystander
Being an active witness means paying attention to everyone else’s well-being even when I’m having fun in a festive environment.
Which situations? They are listed above (discriminatory or insulting comments, failure to respect consent…)
I maintain a proactive attitude observing and remaining vigilant.
There are several obstacles to decision-making, let’s go through them together:
Afraid to spoil the mood? If someone oversteps the boundaries of another person at a party without anyone intervening, the mood is already spoiled. Intervening is caring for those who need it.
Afraid of making a fool of yourself of making a mistake? You are better off getting your help denied than not doing anything and regretting it! When partying, proof of adelphity is welcomed (= solidarity among human beings, idea of togetherness)
Afraid due to lack of legitimacy? In a situation where sexual harassment or assault occurs, the more witnesses there are present the less likely they are to intervene. If I don’t step in, who will? I am legitimate!
Before stepping in, I can ask the person who seems to be willing for help if they are alright (i.e. “Is this person bothering you?”)
If they say that they are alright, I do not insist and I respect their consent. I can however stay visible (without staring!)
If they say they have an issue or do not answer because they are not clear-headed, I decide to intervene.
I distract the ill-intentioned person by either pretending I am the victim’s friend or leading the conversation towards another subject.
I direct the ill-intentioned person naming what they are doing (i.e. “What you are saying is lesbophobic”). Beforehand I make sure that I am being safe myself (we don’t want this direct confrontation to create more victims…)
I delegate to other party goers and call for help (security staff, management…)
If the victim is already being taken care of, I document the situation by taking a picture or a video in which I state the place and time of the abuse and I describe what is happening. This content can then help the victim if they decide to press charges. However, it should never be shared on social media without the victim’s consent; it is up to them to decide what happens to the content of the photos and/or videos.
After it’s all been sorted out, I initiate a dialogue with the victim, even if I was not an active bystander. I listen to them, make sure they are okay and guide them if they need more support (security staff, management of the event, victim support association*). Speech is liberating, speech is a weapon, so speak up!
Bonus point: Ditch your ego! Stepping in is amazing and contributes to creating a culture of consent on the party scene! But keep in mind: I step in only to help others, not to earn a trophy, nor to impress other people.
Intervening can be emotionally straining. It is legitimate for me to take time to recover (even if I was not the victim!). Listening to my emotions and needs and asking associations for support is a good way to take care of myself. <3
• 0 800 05 95 95 (French toll-free number): Collectif Féministe contre le Viol – Monday to Friday from 10am to 7pm.
• En Avant Toutes Tchat (free, secured and anonymous) available Mondays to Wednesdays from 3pm to 6pm and 3pm to 8pm on Thursdays and Fridays (close on public holidays)
Bienveillance is an initiative that raises awareness on promoting healthy and appropriate behaviours in festive environments. Word of mouth is the best snowballing effect in helping us grow.
The Bienveillance community benefits from each other’s feedback. Sharing and speaking up is a way of getting the support I need from my peers, but it is also a way to encourage brainstorms around long-lasting solutions.
Legal point: Non-assistance to a person in danger
Thus, a third party intervener who refrains from helping a victim of sexual assault or rape, for example, may be guilty of the offence of non-assistance to a person in danger. When there is a potential risk for the witness (threatening or dangerous aggressor for example) the offence of non-assistance to a person in danger will not be characterized.