Bystander Intervention is a philosophy and strategy for prevention of various types of violence. It involves safe and positive options to prevent harm or intervene when there is a risk of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
What can bystanders do to make a difference?
- Believe someone who discloses a sexual assault, abusive relationship, or experience with stalking or cyberstalking.
- Be respectful of yourself and others. Make sure any sexual act is OK with your partner if you initiate.
- Watch out for your friends – if you see someone who looks like they are in trouble, ask if they are okay. If you see a friend doing something shady, say something.
- Speak up – if someone says something offensive, derogatory, or abusive, let them know that behavior is wrong and you don’t want to be around it.
Other Bystander Intervention Strategies
- Silent Stare - A disapproving look can be more powerful than words.
- Humor - Reduces the tension of an intervention and makes it easier for the person to hear you.
- Group Intervention - There is safety and power in numbers.
- We’re friends, right….?
- Reframes the intervention as caring and non-critical.
- Example: “Hey Chad…..as your friend I’ve gotta tell you that getting a girl drunk to have sex with her isn’t cool, and could get you in a lot of trouble. Don’t do it.”
- Snaps someone out of their “sexist comfort zone.” Example: Ask a man harassing a woman on the street for directions or the time.
- Allows a potential target to move away and/or to have other friends intervene.
Example: Spill your drink on the person or interrupt and start a conversation with the person.
(Adapted from Men Can Stop Rape, www.mencanstoprape.org)