What To Do If Someone Reports Harassment
If someone reports harassment:
If it is an emergency, if someone is injured or in danger, do not hesitate to call the police (911 in the US), then notify the organizers. Safety is always our first priority.
Provided that everyone is safe, step into a private or quiet location, and ask the individual if they would write down the details if they haven’t already or tell them to you as you write them down. If you are not an organizer and they are ‘line of sight’ discretely get their attention. If you are a volunteer and you feel like you can’t handle hearing about harassment calmly or are uncomfortable in this role, ask the person to wait and find an organizer immediately.
The report should contain:
- Identifying information about the person who harassed you
- The behavior that was in violation of our anti-harassment policy
- The approximate time of the behavior
- The circumstances surrounding the incident
- Other people involved
Don’t involve anyone else until an Organizer has determined a response plan. We want to be respectful of the confidentiality of the reporter. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, you may call the number below, so you can discuss this with a volunteer who is experienced in handling harassment situations.
- As an Organizer,
- If there is any general threat to attendees or the safety of anyone, including you or another volunteer is in doubt, summon security or police.
- Offer the victim a private place to sit
- Ask “Is there a friend or trusted person who you would like to be with you?” (if so, arrange for someone to fetch this person)
- Ask them “how can I help?”
- Provide them with the list of contacts below if they need help later
Involve law enforcement or security only at victim’s request, unless you feel there is immediate danger. In many cases, reporting harassment to law enforcement is very unpleasant and may result in further harassment. Forcing victims to go to law enforcement will reduce reports of harassment (but not actual harassment).
A staff member can provide the list of emergency contacts and say something like “if you want any help reporting this incident, please let us know” and leave it at that.
Reports of harassment that were widely witnessed
These include things like harassing content in conference talks, or harassment that took place in a crowded space. Simply say “Thanks, this sounds like a breach of our anti-harassment policy. I am going to convene a meeting of a small group of people and figure out what our response will be.”
Private Reports of Harassment
Follow the instructions above and let them know that you will be collaborating with a volunteer counselor to figure out an appropriate response.
- Invite them to withdraw the complaint or mention that withdrawal is OK: this suggests that you want them to do so, and is therefore coercive.
- Ask for their advice on how to deal with the complaint: this is our responsibility
- Offer them input into the response: this is our responsibility
If the response was widely witnessed, it is important to address the incident at the next large group meeting, such as the beginning of lunch, closing remarks or while reviewing the Code of Conduct during the opening remarks if the incident happened at the InstallFest.
Follow up action
You should talk directly with a volunteer counselor. At your discretion, involve your co-organizer and/or volunteers who responded to the report. Discuss:
- What happened (send written report to: …)
- What should be our verbal or written response
- Who will take action on the response and when
Neither the complainant nor the alleged harasser should attend. (If the event was very widely witnessed, such as a harassing talk, this may be an exception to this guideline.) People with a conflict of interest should exclude themselves or if necessary be excluded by others.
As soon as possible, either before or during the above meeting, let the alleged harasser know that there is a complaint about them, let them tell someone their side of the story and that person takes it into the meeting.
As soon as possible after that meeting, let the harasser know what action is being taken. Let them know that they may appeal to Leadership Contact below, but in the meantime the action stands.
Originally adapted from GeekFeminism wiki: Responding to Reports
Hotline: (252) 591-1411
If you need to report an issue or are a Bridge workshop organizer in need of advice, please call our hotline. It is staffed by volunteers who have experience facilitating workshops. We can take a report and talk through the concern. We will respond immediately during a workshop. During the week, we may take a day or two to get back to you.
- General questions: email@example.com
- Bridge Foundry Program Director, Sarah Allen: (224) 801-2358