Attempting to #makeitawkward in public is one of the scariest things to do.

“What if I put myself or someone else in danger?” and “It’s not my problem, I shouldn’t get involved” are two of the most common thoughts that pop up.

The truth is, you should get involved and it is your problem. Doing nothing while witnessing discriminatory behaviour means you’re creating a comfortable space for the wrong person.

So what can you do?

The Friend Fix

Being verbally attacked or harassed in a public space is very jarring. Whether in a crowded room, on public transit or walking down the street, the victim will more than likely feel afraid and alone.

It is exactly that loneliness that you can help with. When you see someone visibly shaken by — or uncomfortable with — a stranger’s words or actions, focus your attention on them. First and foremost, alert the closest authority or call 911 if necessary. Next, move closer to the victim, ask how he or she is doing, converse with respect and kindness and ignore the aggressor. Invite others to do the same.

Do not antagonize the aggressor in any way or escalate the situation. Do not approach if you feel that doing so would put you or the victim in danger. If this is the case, call 911 immediately.