I’ve Got Your Back!

What’s worse than being street harassed? Being street harassed while surrounded by a bunch of strangers who could have done something, but didn’t.

You’ve read the stories, you know who we’re talking about: the “it’s none of my business” guy, the “he doesn’t mean anything by it” guy, or the woman who approaches you not to ask if you need help, but to compliment you on your hair.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way? We’re partnering up with the bystander program Green Dot to help you intervene when you see street harassment happen – and to celebrate and document your success using our website and apps.  Your story will inspire others to provide real-time solutions to street harassment.   You’ll also find our new “I’ve Got Your Back” button under each story. You can anonymously click the button, and at the person who shared their story will receive an email saying the number of people who have their back! With each click, you will give others in the Hollaback! community the support they need to keep holla’ing back.

What’s a green dot, and how do I make one happen?

A green dot is just a moment in time when you make a choice to be actively and visibly intolerant of street harassment.  A green dot is your chance to show that street harassment sucks and isn’t OK with you, to show targets of street harassment that you’ve got their back, and to show everyone in your life that you expect them to do their part to make the community safer.

Two things are necessary for street harassment to happen: 1) a person or group who chooses to harass someone and 2) a community of bystanders willing to let it happen.  When we start replacing moments of bystander inaction with moments when we have each other’s backs, we will make our vision of a daily life without street harassment a reality.

Thinking really hard about how awful street harassment is isn’t going to make it go away. Action is the only thing that will.  And once you’ve acted, share your story!  You’ll inspire others to take action, and give hope to those who experience street harassment regularly that people like you are out there, and ready to have their backs.

Here are three steps to move from bystander inaction to a bystander IN ACTION! (1) Notice what street harassment looks like, (2) Notice what keeps you from acting, (3) Pick a Green Dot that works for you!

What you might notice…uh, is that street harassment?

  • Comments about someone’s appearance, gender, sexual orientation, etc)
  • Vulgar Gestures
  • Sexually Explicit Comments (e.g., “Hey baby, I’d like a piece of that”)
  • Leering
  • Whistling
  • Barking
  • Kissing Noises
  • Following someone
  • Flashing someone or exposing oneself
  • Blocking someone’s path
  • Sexual touching or grabbing (e.g., touching someone’s legs, breasts or butt)
  • Public masturbation

Holy crap…that’s awful…I’ve got to do something…but….

  • I’m shy
  • I don’t know what to do
  • I don’t want that dude to touch me
  • What if no one else has my back?
  • What if I’m calling it wrong?
  • I don’t want to get my butt kicked
  • I’m late
  • Maybe I’m the only one who thinks that’s rude, maybe the target is into it
  • My friends would think I was a freak for saying anything
  • That super cutie sitting across from me definitely won’t ask me out if I make a scene on the subway
  • No one else is doing anything
  • There are a lot of them and only one of me
  • If I tell the cops, they may not help
  • I have to walk this way every day – if I call them out I may see them again
  • Am I over reacting?
  • That’s my friend saying those lewd things…

It can be really hard to have someone’s back, even when we really want to. The good news is, that doesn’t make you a crappy person – it only makes you human!  More good news (that’s right, there’s more) – no matter what makes it hard, there is almost always something you can do that will feel manageable to you!

Badass Bystander Moves

In the moment…..

Direct Green Dots

  • “Hey knock it off”
  • Tell the person you will call the cops if they don’t put that thing away.
  • “Are you ok”
  • Go stand next to the person being targeted so they know they are not alone.
  • Ask the target, “Are they bothering you?”
  • Take a picture with your phone
  • Look disapprovingly at the person doing the harassing behavior
  • Offer to get off at the next stop with the target and catch the next train together.
  • “Get away from her/him”
  • Don’t join in or laugh.
  • Loudly say “ugh, that is so gross”
  • Talk to your friend later about why you thought what they did or said was uncool
  • Ask the target if there is anything you can do to help
  • Tell the harasser you saw some cops on the corner and you are worried they will get in
  • trouble if they don’t stop.
  • Tell the target that the harassing behavior wasn’t ok and you are sorry it happened.

Delegate Green Dots

  • Find the Foreman on the construction site
  • Call the police
  • Tell a transit authority worker
  • Yell “Somebody do something!!!!!”
  • Get a group together to intervene
  • Text a friend who is on the subway with you and ask them to HELP!
  • Make eye contact with some other bystanders and ask, “What should we do to help?”

Distract Green Dots

  • Ask for directions
  • Offer the target your seat
  • Start a flash mob
  • Act like you know the target and say “I’ve been looking everywhere for you – we have to hurry to meet our other friends”
  • Drop your bags to create a commotion
  • “Accidentally” spill your coffee

* A note about safety: We don’t ever want you to get hurt trying to help someone out. Always think about safety and consider possibilities that are unlikely to put you in harm’s way (e.g., calling 000, getting a group together, etc.)

In my daily life…

Only got five minutes? Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Hollaback! and share your story of harassment.
  • Have people’s backs, virtually. Read some of the Hollaback blog posts and let folks know you’ve got their back.
  • Educate your networks! Tell your Facebook friends why you think street harassment is a problem.  Give your Twitter followers suggestions on how they can intervene.
  • Share the love on social media. The more people out there that know we exist, the faster we can work to end  street harassment. Invite your Facebook friends to our Facebook page, give @Hollaback_Melb a shout-out on your Twitter feed, or go old-skool and just shoot an email out to all your besties to tell them about Hollaback!
  • Make a personal pledge to do your part to have people’s back if you ever see street harassment.
  • Any time you see someone doing a green dot tell them you think they’re AWESOME!

Got a little more time?

  • Everyday is a HOLLAday. So much of what we do is about getting the word out. Spread the HOLLAlove at your next get-together! Contact holla AT ihollaback.org for details on how you can raise awareness about street harassment at your next party get some cool HOLLAswag in the process!
  • Read everything you can about bystander dynamics to learn more about the things that can get in your way.
  • Send us a video of you telling your street harassment story. With your permission, we’ll post it on our site!
  • Guest blogging. Got a smart, sassy opinion about street harassment? Let it be heard! Email us with your blog post idea.

Got a lot more time?

  • Launch a Hollaback! in your town. Click here for more details.
  • Perform research. Part of the problem with street harassment is that it’s invisible. Change the game by pulling together a study of street harassment using an online survey tool, like SurveyMonkey, in your town. We’ll publish the results.
  • Got skills? We need you. We are entirely volunteer run and need all the help we can get. Event planners, DJs and VJs, grantwriters, songwriters, artists, etc,  we need you one and all.

No one has to do everything… but, everyone has to do something. We all can do our part to have each other’s backs.


Background on Green Dot’s Got Your Back campaignThe specific application of Green Dot to street harassment is a collaborative between the awesome folks at Hollaback and the Green Dot, etc. team. To learn more about Green Dot check us out at www.livethegreendot.com.  If you are interested in applying Green Dot to other forms of violence please contact us at [email protected]

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