Best Practices for Bystanders

Allyship and community support are proven to combat the effects of harassment. On Right To Be’s storytelling platform, you can read people’s stories and click an anonymous “I’ve Got Your Back” button to show them they aren’t alone. You can also sign up to provide direct and meaningful support to those experiencing online harassment. Bystanders looking to provide support will receive public requests, along with actions of support chosen by the person requesting help.

Here are tangible things you can do on our platform and some good practices you could take into consideration:

Sending supportive comments
Online harassment can make people feel alone and isolated. Sending a supportive message is a great way to let someone who is hurting know they are not alone. It can be hard to know what to say sometimes.
Speak from the heart!
  • Personable messages almost always make people feel loved. If you feel comfortable, feel free to share your own experiences.
  • Consider comments like, “I’ve got your back” or “You’re not alone.”
  • Oftentimes people have trouble understanding why online harassment is happening to them, and they secretly worry that they did something to deserve it. Reminding them that “You don’t deserve this,” or “I know this harassment feels personal, but these remarks have nothing to do with you and everything to do with the person saying them” can help.
Need help figuring out what to say? Here are some examples to get started.
  • “No one deserves to be treated that way.”
  • “I am sending you love and support during this difficult time!”
  • “I admire you for getting through this and having the courage to share your story.”
  • “Sharing your experience can be very scary – thank you for trusting us enough to be vulnerable. We’ve got your back!”
Sometimes validation that what’s happening isn’t OK can help.

In these cases, you can try: “What this person said to you is not OK. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.”

Before you send a message, read it over and ask yourself:

“Would receiving this make me feel better?” If the answer is yes, press “submit!”

Avoid any “coulda, woulda, shoulda” language.

Even if you mean well, comments on what people could have done, or should do, can make them feel like they did the wrong thing or “asked for it” in some way.

Reporting abusive content

Reporting harassment on social media platforms or websites can help to take that content down faster. This is a good reason why it is helpful to engage other people in this process. On our storytelling platform, bystanders can receive help requests to report content on social media. People experiencing online harassment may include links to the abusive content so you can directly help report it. They can also add usernames or hashtags.

We have created these Online Safety Guides that break down how to report harassment on each platform.


Documenting harassment can be triggering and exhausting experience for those that are going through it. You can help people experiencing online abuse by monitoring abuse, taking a screenshot on your computer, cell phone, or a similar electronic device, and then writing down:

  • The specific date and time of the harassment
  • Which platform you found it on (ex. Twitter, YouTube, etc.)

On our platform, people experiencing online abuse are encouraged to include what platforms they would like people to help them document harassment, whether there are any hashtags, content, mentions, etc.

The more details and information you provide the person being harassed, the more useful it will be if they need to take action in the future. Learn more about the importance of documentation here.

The Power of Messages of Support

Take care of yourself

An important part of the practice of taking care of others is to remember to take care of yourself. Exposure to online harassment, even if you are not the one it’s directed at, can cause second-hand trauma. Take breaks when you need to, and be gentle with yourself. We’ve got your back, too. Check out our Self-care for Bystanders Guide here for some tips.

Right To Be
Become a member of the platform
We welcome folks experiencing any form of harassment to share their stories on our platform. If you are experiencing online harassment or want to support people being harassed online, you'll need to register. Join today!
Connect With Us
Looking to partner with RTB? Click the link below for more info.