Being a victim of harassment is horrible, and so is witnessing it happening to someone else. But what should you do in that situation? Are there certain rules? What if you don’t do anything? Should you ignore it? Should you fight back?

Being in the moment can totally throw you, but this little guide will hopefully give you the basics to remember if you ever end up in the middle of something nasty.

What counts as harassment?

Harassment is any behaviour from someone that makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened. It could mean unwanted texts, online and offline abuse (verbal and physical), stalking, or threats.

Pretty nasty stuff, right?

The kind of harassment we want to tackle in this guide is public abuse, either on the streets or on public transport. This kind is often classed as a ‘hate crime’.

What’s the difference between harassment and a hate crime?

Hate crime is a specific type of harassment that’s based on prejudice. You’re a victim of hate crime if you’ve been or are being abused for the colour of your skin, religion, sexuality, gender, or disability.

Being a victim of a hate crime can be a harrowing experience, but there are many people and organisations out there who can and will listen and support you.

I’m being harassed RIGHT NOW, what do I do?!

Try to not panic. You will be ok. The main thing to remember is not to engage with this person, as they’re likely irrationally riled up and threatening. Your safety comes first.

The British Transport Police (BTP) have a number you can text to report any crime or unwanted behaviour on public transport. Text what’s happening and your location to 61016. This is especially helpful if you need to be subtle and can’t call 999.

Sometimes it can be SO tempting to turn around and tell this person why they’re being such a massive knob, but the sad truth is: if someone has started harassing you in public then they’re clearly confident enough to do so, and are unlikely to listen.

BUT, there are some things you can do, as well as reporting the incident.

If you’re on public transport:

– Try and move carriages/seats
– Get off at the next stop if you feel in danger
– Look for the nice faces of people who want to help you.

If you’re on the streets then:

– Just keep walking
– Make sure you stay where there’s lots of people – ie. don’t go down any side streets
– However tempting it may be, don’t look at the perpetrator
– Maybe put some earphones in or read a book (this goes for being on public transport, too).

Just remember to not give the big baby any attention. They’ll soon get bored when nobody’s listening to them.

Can I report it afterwards?

Absolutely! You can report it even months afterwards, and we’d encourage you to do so if you feel comfortable doing it. You can speak to station staff if you’re travelling by train, the bus/tram driver if it’s safe to, or the police. You can dial 999, text BTP on 61016, or call BTP on 0800 40 50 40 at any time.

You might feel like the incident wasn’t actually that bad, or that nobody will listen to you, or that there are worse things for the police to be tackling, but you are completely within your rights to report a hate crime or harassment. That person could end up doing worse things to other people and anyway, your feelings are valid. You should never have to put up with behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

What about if I see it happening to someone else?

It can be so, so hard to know what to do in this situation. You likely feel like you should DO something to stop it, but also feel terrified. And that’s ok! Your fight/flight response will kick in and your body may well freeze, run away, or try to tackle the situation. Don’t be ashamed by your reaction.

The general advice from the British Transport Police is to not engage with the perpetrator, especially if they’re angry and violent as that could make the situation worse. Instead, it’s better to talk to the victim. One woman has even created a cartoon to help bystanders support someone during a hate crime – the main points to remember are:

– Stand or sit with the victim so they know they’re supported

– Talk about rubbish with them! Ask how they are, comment on the weather, or ask what they’re having for dinner tonight.

– In an ideal situation, more people will then join you (it always just takes one person to encourage others) and you’ll create a buffer between the perpetrator and victim.

– Creating these safe spaces will be so important to the victim, and supporting them is way more important than confronting the douchebag harasser.

– Ask the victim if they want you to get off the train/bus/tram with them and stay until they feel comfortable, or if they want some support reporting the incident.

– Remember, you can encourage them to report it, but you can’t force them. It’s important to let them be in charge.

– If you can’t stick with the victim during the incident, you can always try to record it if it’s safe to do so. This will provide solid evidence for the police. And it might be tempting to share this on social media, but it’s always best to contact the police first.

I feel crap about what I experienced. What shall I do?

It’s totally normal for something like this to affect you. You could feel anxious and low immediately afterwards, or even in a few months’ time. But thankfully there are many organisations who can help you feel better.

Victim Support can give you practical and emotional support, and can help you with the process of reporting and dealing with harassment/a hate crime. Visit their website here.

True Vision can give you more information on how to report a hate crime. They offer a service where you can report the crime anonymously online, which may feel less intimidating.

Tell MAMA supports victims of anti-Muslim hate. They have heaps of specialised information and you can even speak to them via WhatsApp.

Stop Hate UK is charity supporting all victims and witnesses of hate crime, and have specialised support for LGBTQ+, trans, and disabled victims of hate crime.

Community Security Trust is a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism. They have lots of information and a reporting service.

The Mix is a charity supporting all under-25s in the UK with any issue. You can speak to their trained team via their helpline, forums, email, or one-to-one chats.

Childline can support you if you’re under 19. Their support is also available via phone, email, and one-to-one chats.

Being harassed or witnessing a hate crime can be horrible experiences, but always remember that you’re in control of how you deal with it afterwards. There are so many people out who will be on your side, including us! You’re amazing and important, whoever you are, and we can all do our bit to help put a stop to harassment and hateful behaviour.

@louisejonesetc

Image: Unsplash

Confetti Crowd are ‘The UK’s most colourful girl gang of creatives’, who draw, sing, write and dress themselves up in rainbows and we love them, big time. We already talked to them about periods and growing up, but now they’re here to tell us what advice they’d give to their 14-year-old selves.

Lulu

“I would tell my 14-year-old self ‘don’t pluck your eyebrows’, because my eyebrows don’t grow anymore and I think that’s because I used to pluck them. And I would say don’t bleach your hair. I used to bleach my hair when I was a teenager like, once a week – I’d go blue, then bleach it back to blonde, then I’d go pink then I’d bleach it and go purple and I just killed my hair. I would say don’t put concealer on your lips. I don’t think that’s a thing anymore, but it was!

Don’t rush to get into relationship with boys. I wasted so many years on losers. And don’t care what anyone thinks. People used to take the piss out of us for dressing weird and now it’s our job.”

Heidi

“I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs or anything, then one day I dyed my hair blonde and it all fell out. So that’s what I would tell my 14-year-old self: listen to your mum. Listen to whatever she says. Mums are always right.

Be nice to the people who are mean to you – don’t be mean back. I always feel like when we were younger and someone was mean, you’d just be nasty back and if you’re just nice back, one day they’re going to be nice back.”

Tiger

“I’d say don’t be so self conscious with your weird style. We used to wear things to school and other girls would be like: ‘Oh my god why are you wearing that in your hair? Or whatever.’”

Heli

“Leave your hair alone. Also, I used to be very funny about my weight when I was younger, I used to think I was really big when I wasn’t. I put myself down a lot, so I would say: stop doing that. Stop putting yourself down and enjoy your teenhood because weight isn’t important. And don’t feel like you’ve got to do whatever everyone else is doing. You can be your own person. It’s fine if you don’t want to do what everyone else wants to do.”

@ConfettiCrowd

This week we caught up with entrepreneur, My Flash Trash founder and digital guru Amber Atherton to ask her what advice she’d give her 14-year-old self. Here’s what she said…

“My advice would be: stop hanging out with people that you don’t really like. And this is something I still say to people now.

“Don’t follow people on Instagram or spend time with people that don’t make you the best version of yourself. Life’s too short, you do grow out of people and I think people are holding onto something when really you’ll just feel so much better if you just cut it off.

“So, I think I would say to myself don’t waste time on people who don’t make you feel good about yourself. Do that Facebook cull, unfollow people on Instagram – it’s so simple but so effective.

“You know you have that thing where you go on social media and you’re like, ‘God, my life is really not that great!’ – everyone has that. Major celebrities have that as well, it’s the FOMO thing… and as soon as you take that out of your life you just feel so much better because you’re more focused on you, and what you’re doing, and your own path. That should always be your focus.”

Brb, just going to go and do a Facebook cull. Cheers Amber.

In her new interview with Vogue, Selena Gomez is FULL of interesting information. Plus, we actually get to see *inside* her house, and spoiler, it’s just as dreamy as you’d hoped.

Facts we’ve learned: she’s obsessed with the game ‘Heads Up’. She loves Europe (woo!). She wants to learn a new language. She thanked me individually for helping her (fine, it wasn’t me individually, she thanked all her Instagram followers, but whatever). Her first memory is of her mum painting. The first concert she ever went to was Britney Spears. Her favourite word is grateful. If she had to choose another career, she’d be a chef.

What’s her advice to her 15-year-old self? “Go ahead and do it, because you’re going to do it anyway.”

And what does she know now that she didn’t know when she was 15? “Patience”.

Selena, are you trying to tell us something…?

When I was at school I had all kinds of grand career plans. I was going to be a Blue Peter presenter. Obviously. I mean, they PAY YOU to go on a massive summer holiday every year. Or maybe I’d be a journalist. Or a barrister. Or a diplomat. I didn’t know what that last one involved other than living abroad and going to Ambassadors’ Balls where I’d need to wear gowns and eat canapés but I mean, YES PLEASE. But yeah – when I say had grand plans, what I mean is that I had no bloody clue whatsoever what I was going to do with my life.

And if you’re in the same boat and are starting to panic, I’m here to tell you there’s no need. It’s totally fine not to know what you want to do. Seriously. No. Biggie.

Even Clare Howard, a careers advisor, is with me on this. “I interview youngsters all over the country, and the majority of them don’t know what they want to do. And that’s absolutely nothing to worry about. How could you possibly know? You haven’t had the opportunity to try things or even think about jobs, really.”

There are some things that could help you achieve Beyoncé levels of future success though, even if you have no idea what that future looks like. “Nowadays people are going to have lots of different jobs,” Clare says, “so it’s important to develop transferable skills that you can take from one job to another, like communication or project management. I’d also advise picking your A-levels and (if you’re going to university) your degree because you’ll enjoy them, not because you think they’ll get you a better job.”

“Talk to people about their own career pathways and why they made the choices they did. And get lots of work experience – it gives you some of the skills that’ll make you employable, and helps you work out where your heart really lies.”

Just to be totes upfront though, once you get out into the big bad working world, you might still feel as confused as Louis Walsh at the end of Judges Houses (or Louis Walsh during any part of X Factor, let’s be honest). And that’s all good, too. I took a very winding path to get to where I am now – a general degree; a year abroad; jobs in sales, events, space travel (I wish) and marketing before I became a journalist. TBH I’m not even sure if journalism is what I’ll do forever – I’ve just finished a Masters in something totally different. And that’s fine, too.

Loads of my friends feel the same, including Faye who’s a freelance Art Director, designing magazines, books and adverts. It’s a supercool job, especially since she moved to Australia so she can surf after work (you see, your future could literally take you anywhere). But she’s sometimes felt confused. “I went through a big turmoil at uni, thinking I’d picked the wrong course (Graphic Design) and should be doing English because I liked writing. Then at some point it clicked that you can be interested in a range of things and use that to inform what you’re doing. Being interested in writing has ended up being a strength. I can see how the design and words need to fit together, and I often write concept ideas for my clients.”

But like me, she still doesn’t have a tidy life map in her head. “I don’t think what I’m doing now is what I’ll do forever and I don’t have a real plan for my next few years, which is fine. You’ve got to try different things and I think you can take things from every job. Plus, loads of great stuff has happened without me planning it. I never would have considered going freelance two years after uni but circumstances meant that I tried it. It ended up being the perfect thing for me at the time and I learnt so much. Not necessarily knowing what you’re doing can actually work out pretty well sometimes.”

And if you’re thinking my friends and I just got lucky, and that your life will defo implode unless you decide on one path RIGHT NOW, I’ve roped in another professional to help keep you breathing.

Career coach Corinne Mills thinks flexibility is where the future’s at. “Nowadays people have way more careers than they used to. People are living longer and working later and that actually opens up lots of chances for new experiences – you’re not going to want to do the same job at 20 as you do at 40 or 60.” Her advice is just to get stuck into something. “You don’t know what you like and are good at until you try things. Something that sounds glamorous, like PR, actually might not be for you because there’s a lot of humdrum work, too. Get as many experiences as you can and use each one to work out what you enjoy and what you don’t want to do again, then spontaneously work out as you go along what kind of path you want.”

And if there’s literally no job in the world that excites you, there’s still no need to sweat it. It probably just doesn’t exist yet. Caroline O’Donoghue is a Social Media Manager (which means somebody actually pays her to tweet. Dream job anyone?). But when she was at school she wanted to be a novelist. “The job I do now didn’t exist when I was at school. In fact, the only social media I had was Bebo. But when I moved to London and started bouncing around marketing jobs, social media just became my thing and I really enjoyed it. In the end though, my job actually gave me the storytelling skills I needed to write my book. A publisher bought it and I’m leaving my job soon to be a novelist!”

You see! Proof that everything will work itself out in the end. Promise.

@LucindaEverett

Image: Katie Edmunds

Corinne Mills is a Career Coach for Personal Career Management

Hate January? There’s a club for that! It’s called ‘everybody’ and we meet on the sofa, weeping quietly into a chocolate orange.

But while the whole month can feel full of pressure to change yourself, put more effort into life and generally become a better, shinier human, there is another way – and it’s what we at betty like to call the ‘anti-resolution’. The lazy gal’s resolution. The kind that goes: do less, be happier! Sleep more! And while there’s obviously much more to life than your beauty routine, it’s as good a place as any to start.

Here are our five anti-resolutions to give your hair and face a fabulously chill 2017. Zzz.

1. Put. The tweezers. Down. 

Sure, plucking has been a rite of passage for every teenage girl since humans evolved to have hair above their eyes (seriously, check out the Mona Lisa’s bald brows) – but ‘permanently surprised forehead tadpoles’ is nobody’s idea of an on-fleek beauty look, let’s be honest. And thanks to Cara D and Lily Cole, luscious caterpillar brows have never been, um, bigger… so maybe skip the pain session and let them grow like the beautiful face gardens they are.

Or at least follow the golden rules: only tweeze below the brow, never above it, don’t take too much from the inner corners (this is the voice of experience and I’m here to tell you: brow growth serum is expensive), and step away for a little break every few hairs to stop yourself going the full alien. There’s a reason Lisa was a moaner, you know.

2. Give your hair a holiday

And we don’t mean from washing, guys, even though dry shampoo is the true elixir of life and we all know it. We mean from the drying and curling and straightening and relaxing and tonging and straightening-a-bit-more because your fringe is doing that weird flicky thing again. Your signature ‘do could be a massive don’t when it comes to your poor frazzled ends. So let’s make 2017 the year we have a lie-in and embrace our natural hair a few days a week, shall we? Let’s own our weird flicky bits! Master the messy up-do! And if all else fails, this is why hats were invented.

3. Go easy on the exfoliating.

Sloughing away dead skin cells (yum) is an excellent way to keep your skin looking smooth, bright and healthy. But there is a big difference between proper exfoliating and battering your face like it’s an old bit of floor that needs sanding. Stick to gentle face scrubs a couple of times a week, or use a muslin face cloth to cleanse with – and resist the urge to rub it raw. FYI, you can’t scare spots away with aggression. That’s not a thing.

4. Embrace the actual shape of our faces

Ahh, 2016. The year of contouring. The year no make-up routine was complete (supposedly) without painting on fake cheekbones in the shade of that stuff your parents use to weatherproof the garden fence. And while we love the transformative magic of makeup (also: mesmerising YouTube tutorials of people turning themselves into Kardashians), it might be time to remember that faces are allowed to look round, rather than hollowed out like an apple core. Cheeks are meant to be soft and pillowy. It’s kind of their deal. Plus: think of everything you could achieve with all that blending time.

5. Have fun

It’s far too easy, living in the Age of the Everlasting Selfie, to get hung up on creating flawless perfection and forget that beauty is supposed to be fun. Messing around with hair and makeup should be a joy, not a chore. You’re like Picasso with a lipstick, not Michelangelo painting God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. So go wild! Be creative! Try that blue lipstick!

And if it stops being fun? Just don’t bother. That’s the lazy gal’s beauty law.

Image: Getty

Change can be a good thing. Changing your hair. Changing your bedsheets. Changing the world. The change in your pocket that helps you buy a doughnut.

But sometimes, and especially at new year, the pressure to change yourself can be a massive pain in the arse. “Make a resolution! Make another one! Join a gym! Run 10 miles! Eat more kale! Eat less everything else! Learn French! Learn to contour! Go out more! Stay in and do yoga! Get more sleep! Stop sleeping, you lazy slob!” After the lovely, cosy, sugar-topped fun of Christmas, January can feel like a big old pile of ‘you’re not good enough, loser’.

And to that, we say: nah. Shut up, nagging voices. Pipe down, people who believe that we need to overhaul our bodies, minds and lives just because the calendar flicked over a page. We’re fine as we are thanks – just as we were in December, and we will be the rest of the year too.

Instead, our January mantra on betty.me is ‘New year, same you!’. We’re going to be all about celebrating yourself – the actual you, not the perfect fairytale fantasy version – and spending time on stuff you really love, instead of the stuff you think you ought to be into. We’ll have ideas to celebrate staying in (mm, staying in), the most glorious geekery, exercise for people who really cba, and hacks to make the most of the wardrobe you already have – plus all our usual tips and funny tales from the coolest girls we know.

Shake things up, but don’t beat yourself up. Pick positive, realistic #goals, or just carry on doing exactly what you’re doing… because you’re doing it damned well.

Also nobody needs to eat any kale. Unless you actually want to.

Leslie Knope vegetable gif

Image: Katie Edmunds