How can I stay safe whilst showing up for my friend?

University of Leeds
2 min readFeb 23, 2024

‘I was recently on a night out and a stranger tried to touch my friend inappropriately. I intervened and told them to back off, but they started shouting and acting aggressively. Luckily, a bouncer came and kicked them out. I realised that jumping in the middle of the situation wasn’t the safest thing to do but I didn’t know how else to protect my friend. How can I show up for my friends without putting myself in danger or making the situation worse?’

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Whilst it’s important to look after our friends and others in our community when they are in dangerous situations, it can be difficult to know the best course of action. Sometimes, the wrong action, whilst coming from a good place, can complicate problems further and make them even more dangerous. A useful way to decide how you can best show up for others is by using the 5 Ds. These are: Direct, Distract, Delay, Delegate, and Document.

Silhouettes of people in a nightclub with a strobe light shining.
Photo by Hendo Wang on Unsplash

If you are in a situation where it is unsafe to directly intervene, you could instead delegate by sharing your concerns with bar or door staff if you’re on a night out. If this happens on campus, you can always contact Security Services through the SafeZone app. You could also try to distract to de-escalate the situation. This could be through spilling a drink or dropping something or asking your friend to go somewhere else with you.

Remember, only directly intervene in a situation if it is safe to do so, and approach it calmly and respectfully to avoid escalating a situation. If the situation is an emergency and there is immediate threat to someone’s health or safety, call emergency services on 999. Read more about how to show up for others.

You are not alone. If you’ve experienced any kind of violence, abuse, bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination, we’re here to help. Explore support options in our community, including specialist support offered by the Harassment and Misconduct team here at Leeds.

Written by Lucy Bishop-Carne, Student Communications