Bystander Intervention

Bystander intervention is defined as safe and positive options that may be carried out by an individual or individuals to prevent harm or intervene when there is a risk of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Bystander intervention includes:

  • Recognizing situations of potential harm
  • Understanding institutional structures and cultural conditions that facilitate violence (this might include fraternity or sports cultures at some institutions)
  • Overcoming barriers to intervening
  • Identifying safe and effective intervention options
  • Taking action to intervene

The 3 D’s of Bystander Intervention

Distract: Anything that distracts someone enough to discontinue the abusive behavior.

  • Spill a drink
  • Ask the abuser for directions
  • Ask the victim to assist with a task
  • Tell the abuser their car is being towed

Delegate: If you do not feel comfortable or safe intervening, delegate the intervention to someone else.

  • Tell a trusted professor
  • Alert a bartender or security that someone has had too much to drink.
  • Ask the host of the party to intervene

Direct: Directly address the abuse. Point out threatening or inappropriate behavior in a safe, respectful manner. You can either confront the potential victim or the person you think is about to abuse.

  • Ask the victim if they are OK
  • Tell the abuser it isn’t cool to talk to someone like that.

Risk reduction is defined as options designed to:

  • Decrease perpetration and bystander inaction
  • Increase empowerment for victims in order to promote safety
  • Help individuals and communities address conditions that facilitate violence

Intervening to help a friend:

  • Bystander intervention is one of the most effective ways to prevent sexual assault.
  • An active bystander is someone who has the moral courage to find a way to safely intervene to stop a potentially dangerous situation.
  • There is evidence to suggest that the presence of bystanders reduces crime, and criminals may try to avoid being observed while committing crimes.
  • If you are witnessing an uncomfortable situation, don’t leave the room, and keep your eyes indirectly on the interaction.

Safety is Your Top Priority:

Before jumping into a potentially dangerous situation, be smart and think about your own safety too.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How can I keep myself safe in this situation?
  • What are all the options available?
  • Who else might be able to assist me?

Aside from safety in numbers, you may have more influence on the situation when you work together with someone else or even several people.