The Men's Initiative is committed to the prevention of violence against women. The primary means by which we strive to prevent this violence is through educating students in and promoting bystander intervention. Below is some general information on what bystander intervention is and how to intervene safely.
Stop Sexual Violence Before it Happens: Often when sexual violence happens there are witnesses to the crime itself or the build up to it. We call these people bystanders. Many times bystanders hesitate to get involved for various reasons, but often have the power to stop horrible acts from happening.
Steps to Intervene: Intervening is not always easy, below are some steps that can facilitate your ability to intervene safely and effectively
1) Assess the situation: When deciding to intervene, your personal safety should be your first priority. First assess what your safety risk is, then try to figure out what course of action will result in everyone’s safety. When in doubt, call for help.
2) Decide whether to use direct or indirect action to resolve the problem: Examples of both types of action are below:
- Direct Actions: Personally get involved in a way that maintains your safety and deescalates the situation. (Speak with the people involved in the situation making sure everyone is okay)
- Indirect Action: Take an action that brings another person, preferably an authority, into the situation in order to deescalate the situation. (Police, Resident Advisor, Hall Director, Bartender, etc)
Strategies for Successful Intervention Include:
Group Intervention/Bring in an Authority Figure:Intervening in a group or making use of authority figures increases both the safety of the person performing the intervention and increases the interventions chances of success. (Consider bringing in Residence Advisors, Hall Directors, Friends, Teammates, Classmates, Police, or other people who you trust).
Educate about Consequences/Offer Options:Inform the possible offender of the harm to the victim that can be caused as well as the fact that they would face possible arrest, expulsion, or other possible sanctions that could be the result of taking a certain action. (Works best with friends or people who you have a relationship of trust)
Challenge Behavior through Questions:Asking what someone is doing, or why they are taking certain actions can often stop an offender or at least make them aware that others are watching.
Value Women:Asking questions like would you like someone to do this to your mother/sister can humanize the victim to the perpetrator and stop them from committing sexual assault. Continuing the conversation and emphasize the fact that all women deserve respect.
I Statements/ “We’re Friends Right” method:Use your credibility with a friend to stop them from committing a crime. By using statements such as “I wouldn’t do that” or letting the friend know that you personally find what they are planning or doing problematic often has a huge impact. Making those statements while reminding them of your friendship has an even greater impact.
Distraction:Create a simple distraction such as asking what time it is, or asking for directions in order to buy time for the victim to get away.
Intervening takes courage! These methods have worked in the past and will continue to work with your help! Many lives will be impacted positively and remember not intervening does the offender a favor!
Information provided by Men Can Stop Rape and www.jointservicessupport.org/SARP/Strategy.aspx. For more information please contact the Men’s Initiative at 203.392.6902