Being a passive witness to abusive behaviour is not ok
Don’t put yourself in danger, however; intervention by witnesses to stop abusive behaviour wherever it happens is the right thing to do. There is no such role as a passive witness to bullying. If you witness bullying, you are either being bullied, out of the right to express an opinion on the abusive behaviour, or you are part of the problem – silent witnesses empower bullies and compound the shame for targets. At the very least, a witness should catch the eye of the target, so they can see that not everyone thinks it’s ok to mistreat people, not everyone agrees with the bully. I would probably say to the target later that I’d written an account of what I witnessed – time, place, who else was there, and what happened, and that it could be made available should it be necessary. It is also essential that the witness statement is not drawn up in consultation with the target – it must be clean.