Bystander intervention

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What is Bystander Intervention?

Bystander intervention is a model of violence prevention that focuses on the third party witnesses to potentially dangerous or harmful situations.  An active bystander recognizes the potential for harm and then acts to stop the harmful behavior from continuing.

Why is it important to intervene?

Research shows that 1 in 3 instances of violence occur in the presence of a bystander, which means that we have the potential to prevent 33% of all instances of sexual violence and dating/domestic violence. The key is to empower people to feel that they have a responsibility to intervene and to equip them with the skills necessary to do so successfully.

Find an intervention approach that works for you.

Direct Strategies: when a person directly engages one or both parties involved in the potentially harmful situation

Delegation Strategies: when a person recognizes a potentially harmful situation and acts to get someone to
intervene in the situation

Distraction Strategies: when a person recognizes a potentially harmful situation and creates a distraction that separates the two individuals involved or calls attention to the individuals involved

Examples of Direct Intervention strategies

  • Ask the individual: "Are you okay?"
  • Remind both parties that alcohol does not equal consent for sexual activity
  • Let one or both parties know that you don't think what is happening is a good idea or that you are concerned
  • Remind the aggressor of the consequences for their actions

Examples of Delegation Intervention strategies

  • Enlist the help of a friend of the parties involved
  • Tell an RA or RD that you believe there may be a problem
  • Let the bartender know that someone may need help
  • Talk to the host of the party about your concerns
  • Call the police

Examples of Distraction Intervention strategies

  • Call one of the individuals' cell phone to give them an out
  • Spill your drink on purpose
  • Tell your friend you are upset and need to talk to them right away
  • Ask where the bathroom is
  • Turn off the music
  • Tell one of the individuals their ride is leaving and pull them away

Tips for intervention

  • Talk to your friends open and honestly.
  • If you see something, intervene in any way that you can
  • Trust your gut. If something looks like it might be a bad situation, it probably is.
  • Get someone to help you if you see something. Enlist the help of a friend, RA, bartender, or party host.
  • Keep an eye on someone who has had too much to drink.
  • If you see someone who is too intoxicated to consent, enlist their friends to help them leave safely.
  • If someone talks about planning to target another person, take it seriously and confront the person.