To combat sexual assault on campus, the most powerful tool is your conveying your concern. The best way bystanders can assist in creating an empowering climate free of interpersonal violence is to diffuse the problem behaviors before they escalate.
- Educate yourself about interpersonal violence AND share this info with friends
- Confront friends who make excuses for other peoples abusive behavior
- Speak up against racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes or remarks
Bystander intervention model
A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin La Cross on bystander intervention concluded that people are more likely to help others under certain conditions.
- Notice the Incident. Bystanders first must notice the incident taking place. Obviously, if they don't take note of the situation there is no reason to help.
- Interpret Incident as Emergency. Bystanders also need to evaluate the situation and determine whether it is an emergency, or at least one in which someone needs assistance. Again, if people do not interpret a situation as one in which someone needs assistance, then there is no need to provide help
- Assume Responsibility. Another decision bystanders make is whether they should assume responsibility for giving help. One repeated finding in research studies on helping is that a bystander is less likely to help if there are other bystanders present. When other bystanders are present responsibility for helping is diffused. If a lone bystander is present he or she is more likely to assume responsibility.
- Attempt to Help. Whether this is to help the person leave the situation, confront a behavior, diffuse a situation, or call for other support/security.
Tips for intervening
In a situation potentially involving sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking:
- Approach everyone as a friend
- Do not be antagonistic
- Avoid using violence
- Be honest and direct whenever possible
- Recruit help if necessary
- Keep yourself safe
- If things get out of hand or become too serious, contact the police
The Bystander Intervention Playbook
The College of William and Mary put together a playbook of advice for bystander intervention. These tips may be useful.
- Defensive Split Step in and separate two people. Let them know your concerns and reasons for intervening. Be a friend and let them know you are acting in their best interest. Make sure each person makes it home safely
- Pick and Roll Use a distraction to redirect the focus somewhere else: “Hey, I need to talk to you.” or “Hey, this party is lame. Let’s go somewhere else.”
- The Option Evaluate the situation and people involved to determine your best move. You could directly intervene yourself, or alert friends of each person to come in and help. If the person reacts badly, try a different approach.
- Full Court Press Recruit the help of friends of both people to step in as a group.
- Fumblerooski Divert the attention of one person away from the other person. Have someone standing by to redirect the other person’s focus (see Pick and Roll). Commit a party foul (i.e. spilling your drink) if you need to.