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Future Health

Bystander Intervention

July 30, 2018 

What does "bystander" mean?

You’ve probably heard the term "bystander" on the news before; most likely in the context of a person present, but the term is also used to describe a person who can intervene to stop a possible sexual assault from happening. 


What is bystander intervention?

Bystander intervention occurs when a bystander steps in when they see a situation such as sexual assault, robbery, or even a possible drunk driving incident in an effort to stop it. When a bystander intervenes, it can give the potential victim a chance to get to a safe place or in some cases save a life.


When to intervene

You should think about helping someone if you see:

  • Sexual assault and dating or domestic violence
  • Sexual harassment
  • Misgendering of transgender community members
  • Racist, sexist, homophobic or other hate speech
  • Social withdrawal
  • Signs of depression, suicidal thoughts, or disordered eating
  • Physical violence
  • Alcohol or another drug misuse


How to help

Always remember that your safety matters and to be aware of your surroundings. There are a few things you can do to help a situation from escalating:

If the situation is more serious, you may also want to have someone call authorities while you’re trying to intervene.

Talk to the victim, not the aggressor.

Depending on the situation, you could directly intervene by taking the person aside and letting them know what they’re doing is not a good idea.

If needed, you could also make a distraction and give time for the victim to get to safety.

 If the situation involves only one person (disordered eating, social withdrawal) you may want to talk to them one on one and let them know you're there to listen and help them.