Bystander Intervention: Want to Help? Here’s how.
Everyone has a role to play in preventing sexual assault and there are various ways you can help and make a difference through bystander intervention. Bystander intervention is a sexual assault prevention strategy that encourages witnesses to take safe action when they see a situation that might lead to sexual assault and to support victims after an incident. Being an active bystander does not require that you risk your own safety or the well-being of others. We can all be bystanders at any time. There is a range of responses you can use that are appropriate, depending on the situation. However, if you or someone else is in immediate danger, contact School Resource Officer at x798 or the Welcome Center/Security at x100. This is the best action a bystander can take.
Take these steps:
- Awareness: Be aware of situations that could lead to sexual violence. Distracting is a subtle and innovative way of intervening. This can help by de-escalating the situation or redirecting the attention of the aggressor or the individual at risk. Try cutting off the conversation like “Let’s get something to eat, I’m hungry, or “It’s getting late, let’s go home.”
- Responsibility: You are a part of a school community that supports and helps each other.
- Commitment: Make a commitment to help maintain a safe environment to learn and work and report threats to the safety of our students, staff, and faculty.
- Confidence: Be confident in taking effective action to prevent sexual violence. Trust your intuition and don’t hesitate to call for help.
- Intervention: Intervene in ways that protect your own safety and are genuinely supportive to victims.
- Talk to friends who have expressed violent feelings or behaviors. Assist them in getting help from a guidance counselor or contact the Security Office.
- Don’t participate in the sexist conversation. Don’t laugh at rape jokes.
- Speak up against false comments or jokes about sexual assault and educate people about it.
- Watch for signs of predatory behavior. Intervene to prevent a sexual assault from taking place.
- Approach everyone as a friend. Extending a helping hand and an empathetic ear can make a difference. Inform them of options of resources available at school and how you can support them.
- Be honest and direct. Asking directly to the individual at risk can help you determine if an action needs to be taken immediately to ensure a safe environment. You can ask “Do you need help?” or “Would you like to leave and go somewhere safe?”
- Don’t be aggressive or use violence.
- Keep yourself safe. The safest way to intervene is to tell an authority figure like a teacher, administrator, or SRO or contact our security office.
- Get help from other bystanders, if necessary.
For more information about bystander intervention and steps on how you can support someone in need, learn more at https://www.rainn.org/TALK. To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.