Bystander Intervention


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Who Is A Bystander?

Bystanders are “individuals who observe violence or witness the conditions that perpetuate violence. They are not directly involved but have the choice to intervene, speak up, or do something about it.”“They are someone who is present and thus potentially in position to discourage, prevent, or interrupt an incident.”

What Is Bystander Intervention?

Bystander intervention is the act of feeling empowered and equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively assist in the prevention of sexual violence. Bystander intervention doesn’t have to jeopardize the safety of the bystander. Bystander intervention and “bystander education programs teach potential witnesses safe and positive ways that they can act to prevent or intervene when there is a risk for sexual violence. This approach gives community members specific roles that they can use in preventing sexual violence, including naming and stopping situations that could lead to sexual violence before it happens, stepping in during an incident, and speaking out against ideas and behaviors that support sexual violence. It also gives individuals the skills to be an effective and supportive ally to survivors after an assault has taken place.”

“Someone who sees a situation but may or may not know what to do, may think others will act or may be afraid to do something.” “It is important to note that when sexual assault prevention educators talk about bystanders, they typically mean people who know each other, such as friends, classmates, colleagues, or members of sports teams. The dynamics of bystander behavior – and the impediments to action – are very different when people know the perpetrator or victim, versus when they are strangers.”

Bystander intervention can be something as small as a young adult telling his/her friend that his/her sexist language is offensive or as great as a college student calling the police if s/he witnesses an act of sexual violence from a dorm window. Regardless of the level of intervention, there are safe ways to help prevent sexual violence.