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    Updated on Jul 20, 2018. Posted on Jul 16, 2018

    Here's What 40 Readers Who've Encountered Harassment Wish Bystanders Would Do

    "Get involved and help me. Don't remain indifferent."

    by ,

    Recently, BuzzFeed Spain asked the LOLA Facebook community about how women want bystanders to respond when they're being harassed.

    Mixmike / Getty Images

    A few common themes emerged: The women who responded talked mainly about the frustrating normalization of certain types of harassment (on public transport, at school, at nightclubs). Because these kinds of harassment seem so unavoidable, bystanders usually don’t take initiative or step in to help.

    Readers also described the lack of action from bystanders and how it made them feel terribly alone. What each and every reader who answered our questionnaire said they wanted was for for someone to have intervened on their behalf. Many responses also show how other women are much more likely to intervene out of empathy before men do.

    Another one of the most common complaints from our readers is that when they have finally taken action against a harasser and started to seek support, they are still the ones who are judged for "creating drama" in public or exaggerating their experience.

    And, finally, another one of the most repeated complaints is the way that society trivializes harassment of women, often reducing it to a punchline or just the inevitable because “boys will be boys.”

    Here’s a look at their responses, which have been edited for length and clarity:

    1.

    "I would have wanted help when I was harassed. And support afterwards. I would have wanted it not to be treated as something normal that I should 'forget about.' When it happened at school, I would have wanted them not to treat it as just things boys do. For me, being touched inappropriately was no joke." —Ana.

    2.

    "Come up and assert your presence, so that whoever is bothering me will see, or at least think, that I am not alone." —Afri.

    3.

    "I would like harassment to be treated with the seriousness it deserves. I feel intimidated and uncomfortable. More than once I have had to discuss (with men) that when they shout things at me in the street, it makes me feel this way. I don't know if it's a matter of taking it seriously or having a certain empathy. The fact is that in many cases you feel alone ... when people see that you are being harassed, they just look on. I would like there to be more of an active attitude towards it so that you can feel somewhat protected." —M.

    4.

    "I would have liked for someone to make the harasser see that this type of behavior is not right, and it should not be normalized. I would like to see it publicly condemned, because nobody should have to put up with harassment." —Lorena.

    5.

    Bellanatella / Getty Images

    "Normally, strangers don't act. And less so if it is something that isn't attracting much attention — they ignore it or don't think it's important because it is something that is seen as normal.

    But it is true that girls support each other more with these things. For example, in the club, if we see that some guy is not leaving a girl alone, we either take the girl either help the girl out of that situation or would just go somewhere else with her (not necessarily to a different venue).

    Once, I was once at the supermarket when an older man started following me. A cashier came over and started stacking things where I was standing. At first I didn't realize she was doing it for that reason, but then when I talked to her afterwards she explained that this guy also did it with other girls, and so she was looking out for me." —Celia.

    6.

    "Act. Always act. Say something. Stop them from shouting at me or trying to touch me. Nobody ever does anything. Not friends, or partners. And when you tell them they downplay the situation. They don't think it matters or they tell you you are exaggerating or being crazy." —Mouse.

    7.

    "Don't ignore the situation. It isn't a man 'flirting,' it's a man (or many men) being intimidating. It doesn't take much to approach and take the victim away from the harassers and ask them if they are okay and if they need anything." —Anna.

    8.

    "React. Don't act as if nothing is happening or as if it's a joke." —Eva.

    9.

    "I wish bystanders wouldn't laugh, because then the harasser would realize that nobody thinks it's funny. And if this guy's your friend, I wish you would apologize for your friend's behavior. It seems so simple to me that it sounds ridiculous, but at the same time it is so difficult for them to understand. " —Sara.

    10.

    Juandarien / Getty Images

    "LOUDLY call them out on it in front of everyone." —Koukla.

    11.

    "I would have liked for people to believe me without saying 'but' and without questioning why it happened to me. Also, I would have liked them not to think that I went looking for it; that hurts." —Len.

    12.

    "Help make the harasser leave me alone so I don't feel alone and scared." —Laura Lecuna.

    13.

    "Don't judge me with that look. Sometimes even in the middle of 2018, when I speak out against a dude who harasses me or assaults me, people look at me in a way that says I am in the wrong for causing a scandal." —Carla.

    14.

    "I would have wanted someone to act and help me. I don't have to feel uncomfortable when I am alone on the street or on public transport, but in a moment of harassment, I not only felt uncomfortable but I also felt alone. Even though there were people around that knew what was happening, nobody did anything, and when I confronted my harasser, they told me I was crazy." —María.

    15.

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    "Help me when you see that I'm left speechless and scared, instead of completely ignoring the situation." —Vir.

    16.

    "At a party, some guys who I had just met wanted me to do something, and I refused to it.

    The three of them cornered me, and one of them touched my chest. We were surrounded by people. I told my friends what had happened. I wish they had not taken it as a joke, but as a serious matter. But everyone laughed instead of calling them out or telling them off. Someone should have made them show respect or apologize, since they didn't leave me alone." —Aquarius.

    17.

    "I wish that my friends would not have dressed it up as 'flirting' and realized that I thought of it as harassment. And I wish they hadn't left me alone with that boy." —

    BiCosmica.

    18.

    "I would have liked for people to have intervened the second time I refused to give a man my telephone number, instead of pretending not to notice." —Megara.

    19.

    "Challenge my harasser when I tell him no for the fifth time in front of everyone, or get me out of there with the excuse of going to the bathroom, or call the police. You don't have to be brave, just look for solutions." —Trastinka.

    20.

    Mary Jirovaya / Getty Images

    "Believe me. That's the first thing. Because I felt very alone when others didn't believe me, when they thought I was the bad guy and the poor boy was 'just in love with me.'

    If the situation happens in public and you can see that the other person is not okay: 1. Ask 'Are you okay? Do you need something?' 2. Say to the harasser: stop, leave her alone — especially if you have the privilege of being a man, because they are going to listen to you more." —Pregnenolona.

    21.

    "One day after leaving work, this guy started following me, calling me 'bitch,' and telling me that he was going to rape me. We walked past a lot of people, and nobody did anything, even though I was 18 years old and it was clear what was happening. I got home and closed the front door as fast as I could. The guy stayed out on the street. I climbed the stairs in the dark and went in without turning on any lights at home out of fear that he would know exactly where I lived. I called my parents to tell them what had happened. I was scared. My father came home in five minutes with the intention of facing the bastard who was following me. I wish everyone would react like that and not have to walk around scared on the street or walk around hiding". —Lili.

    22.

    "I wish someone had asked him what the hell he was doing, and I wish they had asked me how I was doing, if I needed something or if I wanted to report it. And I wish they had offered to help me report it if I had wanted to." —Celia.

    23.

    "When I was 11, I was walking with my mum. I was wearing school uniform and an old man who was behind me grabbed my bum and sped up his pace. All I had in my hand was an umbrella. I exploded called him an 'old son of a bitch.' The guy turned aggressively towards me, as if he were going to hit me. I was going to hit him with my umbrella, when a fruit vendor on the sidewalk told him off. He said something like, 'Are you going to hit a girl? Yes I saw what you did.' The guy denied it, but when people started to surround him, and he left quickly.

    I am telling this story because that is the kind of attitude I would like to see when any sexual attack happens: the victims defending themselves and those around them supporting them." —Emma.

    24.

    "Come over to me and take me away from my harasser." —HormingAtómica.

    25.

    Enona / Getty Images

    "I would have liked for others around me to have stood up for me. Sometimes you feel alone in these situations and you think that you are exaggerating or misunderstanding something, but it is not like that. If you are ever in any doubt, you are in the right." —Tuilla.

    26.

    "Embarrass the guy. Take my side. Stand up for me." —Raquel.

    27.

    "I wish that someone had told the harasser that this behavior is wrong, preferably one of his friends or someone he considers his equal." —holgamaria.

    28.

    "I'm not expecting you to say anything to the harasser. Just come and ask me if I'm okay or make them think that you know me to help me get away from the harasser." —Ariadna.

    29.

    "I wish they would have listened to me. I wouldn't have liked them to think that the bullies were just crazy people. Any harassment that I have suffered never has been seen as important because 'there weren't more of them.'" —Laura.

    30.

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    "I wish they had judged the harasser and not me." —pirpal.

    31.

    "I wish someone had approached to ask if I was okay or if they could help me in some way. That would have been enough. Knowing that there is someone next to me if things get uglier and that they understand — it changes the situation a lot for us, and at the same time, it makes us feel stronger against the harasser." —Paula.

    32.

    "Once, a classmate started to send me messages on Whatsapp even though I had never given him my number. He was someone I had never spoken to before and at first I went along with it, but as time went on he became very intense (he wouldn't stop sending me messages, asking me to meet, asking me if I wanted a boyfriend or if I had one...) and I told him to leave me alone but he didn't. I felt harassed because he would send me messages every 15 minutes.

    I told people who I thought were my friends, but they laughed and didn't take it seriously. I wish these friends had supported me because I felt very uncomfortable with the situation, and they kept making me feel more uncomfortable by saying that what this boy was doing was 'romantic'. The boy continued writing to me for two years until I managed to cut off all communication. None of my friends who knew what was going on supported me." —Anne.

    33.

    "Listen to me, react and don't tell me that I am exaggerating when I feel disgusted." —Cam.

    34.

    "My ex-boyfriend was harassing me for a year, in person and on social media. What I needed the most was someone who would not question me, and simply tried to help me." —Elisa.

    35.

    Grandfailure / Getty Images

    "I would have liked people to call out the attitude of that person. Or if they don't call it out because they don't know the full situation, to give some kind of support later: simply by asking about the situation, becoming aware of the problem and the possible solutions." —Iris.

    36.

    "Get involved and help me. Don't remain indifferent." —Roro.

    37.

    "When harassment happens in public spaces, like on the bus for example, I would have wanted to feel supported and have people call out this type of behavior and not just leave it to the person who is the victim. Silence makes you an accomplice." —Ana.

    38.

    "I wish they would have confronted him, gotten his attention and made him feel terrible about what he was doing. And see if, hopefully, it would dissuade him from ever doing it again to other women." —Irene.

    39.

    "Intervene in some way, tell whoever was harassing me to leave me alone, talk to me and exclude him until he leaves, or take me somewhere else to get me away from him." —Sar.

    40.

    Logan_81 / Getty Images

    "Instead of watching and making it seem like it was nothing, I would have wanted people to do something, even if it was only to tell the harasser to leave me alone. Don't tell me I was exaggerating after you saw what happened. Don't leave it to women to help each other out of empathy — you can all see that it's an awful situation." —Karmele.

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    This post was translated from Spanish.

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