What is bystander intervention?
Disclaimer: It is never a Bystander’s responsibility to prevent violence or harm from occurring. It is always the perpetrators fault for causing the harm. The only person responsible for a sexual assault is the perpetrator, but we can all take steps to prevent violence in our community.
Bystander Intervention is a strategy to prevent a violent situation before it occurs. If something seems potentially unsafe, you can step in before the situation escalates. It is an action-oriented community effort to look out for each other.
This may seem scary and difficult, but there are small ways you can intervene to make a big difference! You may even find that combining techniques can be effective as well–maybe you want to Delegate to a trusted authority figure, but also delay and check in with the person who was harmed. There are no right or wrong answers in Bystander Intervention, so find what feel comfortable for you.
Ways to Intervene
Direct: If you notice something is wrong, you can directly step in to address the problem! Make sure you are safe when you intervene.
Distract: Sometimes the direct approach is intimidating or dangerous. Distraction can be just as effective! A good distraction diverts the potential perpetrators attention, giving you a chance to get your friend out of a potentially dangerous situation.
Delegate: If you are unable to help in a situation, then find someone who can. Talk to someone with more social power than you. This could be a friend, an employee of a venue, or an authority figure.
Delay: If you are unable to help while a situation is unfolding, you can always check in later. This could look like checking in with the person who experienced the harm to see how they are and how you can support them, or checking in with the person who did harm to have a discussion about what happened.
Document: If there is a way to document the harm- if there are text messages, social media posts, etc.-keep a file of them. Even keeping a journal/log of harm can be helpful if someone wants to utilize their Human Resources or civil legal options.