Bystander Awareness Month
Bystander intervention refers to the act of recognizing a potentially harmful situation and choosing to intervene or respond in a way that could produce a safe and positive outcome. The philosophy behind bystander intervention is that it takes a communal approach to fostering an environment of dignity and respect for all. Little actions can have big effects, and bystanders don’t have to do a lot to become a hero.
There are several actions you take to be an active bystander. One of the ways to intervene is to be direct- call it like you see it. This can be in a situation where you spot someone in a potentially unsafe situation, or if someone makes a damaging or demeaning joke. You can call out the behavior as you see it.
Another way to intervene is to distract or draw attention away from the incident. You could make up an excuse to help the individual at risk get away from someone who might pose danger. Some examples of doing this could include asking the person in potential danger to go to the bathroom with you, or to help you with getting food. This gives the person both time and space away from the potential perpetrator.
The third way to intervene is to delegate—rally someone else to help you intervene. There is power in numbers, and by rallying support of your friends, bar or service staff, or the friends of the person at risk, you are gather a support system for both yourself and the person at risk.
When you step in with these tactics, you need to think about your own safety. How can you keep yourself safe? What are all the options available? Who else is in the vicinity that might be able to help? These are important factors to think about before you choose to step in.
Trusting your instinct and safely intervening, whether it's to tell a friend that making a joke about sexual violence is not okay or rallying support for an individual that could be at risk of experiencing sexual violence, you can make a big impact in someone’s life. As an active bystander, you can be a hero. Learn more about about bystander intervention in our newest The (Virtual) Blue Bench video, where we sit down with our Prevention Coordinator Shevonn Damper to chat about Bystander Awareness Month.