Bystander Intervention

Bystander Intervention

Have you ever stopped someone from going home with someone who was drunk or high? Have you ever attempted to stop a friend or peer from taking advantage of someone else or kept him or her from doing something inappropriate? Both of these examples are ways in which you, a bystander, can use your voice and action to stop violence before it happens.

How can you make a difference?

  • Believe someone who discloses information regarding a sexual assault, abusive relationship or an experience with stalking.
  • Respect yourself and others. Make sure to acquire complete consent of any sexual act before it is initiated.
  • Watch out for your friends and peers. If you notice someone who looks like he/she is in trouble, ask if he/she is okay. If you see a friend or peer doing something wrong or inappropriate - say something!
  • Speak up! Voice your opinion. If you witness someone saying something offensive, abusive or derogatory, let him/her know the behavior is wrong, and that you do not want to be around him/her. Do not make or laugh at sexist, racist, or homophobic jokes. Be empowered and challenge your friends and peers to be respectful and to stand up for what is right.

Intervention Strategies
"I" statements

  1. State your feelings
  2. Name the behavior
  3. State how you want the person to respond. This focuses on your feelings rather than criticizing the other person.

Example: "I feel ______ when you _____. Please don't do that anymore."

Silent Stare
Remember, you do not have to speak to communicate. Actions speak louder than words. Sometimes a disapproving look can be far more powerful than words.

Group Intervention
There is safety and power in numbers. This is best used with someone who has a clear pattern of inappropriate behavior where many examplse can be presented as evidence of this problem.

Bring it Home
By making it personal, this helps to prevent someone from distancing himself from the impact of his actions.

Example: "I hope no one ever talks about you like that."

This can also help to prevent someone from dehumanizing his targets.

Example: "What if someone said your girlfriend or mother deserved to be raped?"

We're friends, right....?
Reframes the intervention as caring and non-critical.

Example: "Hey 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 his "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 you drink on the person or interrupt and start a conversation with the person.

Adopted from: and


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