Skip to main content

Be an Active Bystander

Bystander Intervention

There will undoubtedly come a time when you are faced with a situation in which you can intervene and help stop a potentially dangerous situation - stopping someone from driving drunk, eliminating bullying behavior, or preventing a sexual assault from occurring.  Traditionally sexual assault prevention work has focused on encouraging (mainly) women to protect themselves - don't walk alone at night, don't drink too much, etc.  While these efforts can be helpful, they do not effectively stop crimes from occurring, and they place the duty and responsibility solely on the victim. As a friend, partner, classmate, family member, etc. you are in a unique position to do something about abuses you see. Learn how to be an effective bystander and how to confront abuses when they occur.

How to Intervene:

Direct: Directly address the situation (Ensure your safety first before directly intervening)

  • Confront the aggressor about their behavior
  • Ask the potential victim of they are OK

Distract: Anything that distracts the individuals involved in the situation.

  • Spill a drink
  • Ask one of them to help you with a task
  • Tell the aggressor one of their friends is looking for them
  • Get other friends to help 

Delegate: If you don’t feel comfortable or safe intervening, delegate the intervention to someone else

  • Ask the host of the party to intervene
  • Let the bouncer know about the situation
  • Tell a trusted professor
  • Call public safety or the police

Test Your Bystander Skills