• Resources & Reporting

  • Bystander Intervention

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Traditional Bystander Intervention

  • In instances where someone may be immediately at risk for sexual assault or other forms of gender-based violence, bystanders can intervene to provide a chance for the person at risk to leave the situation.
  • Latane and Darley (1968), first to identify the bystander effect, described cognitive and behavioral processes leading a bystander to intervene in an emergency:
Bystander intervention in an emergency
Notice

NOTICE

that something is happening

Interpret

INTERPRET

the situation as an emergency

Assume

ASSUME

a degree of responsibility

Choose

CHOOSE

a form of assistance

Act

 

ACT

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WHEN INTERVENING IN A SITUATION WHERE SOMEONE SEEMS AT RISK OF BEING ASSAULTED, IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A PLAN.


Consider the Three Ds:

 

Distract
Delegate
Direct
  • Approaches to bystander intervention in this form should prioritize the safety and well-being of the person you believe is in harm's way. The tactics you choose to employ when intervening should be taken in the spirit of de-escalating the situation. Be aware that before intervening, you may have legitimate personal safety concerns for yourself and should take those into accounts as well.
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Pro-Social Bystander Intervention

  • Bystander intervention is a keystone of sexual assault prevention and includes more than interrupting sexual violence while someone is at risk. In fact, more actionable forms of bystander intervention disrupt social norms that condone or support rape or other forms of sexual violence.
  • This form of bystander intervention seeks to build a pro-social culture in which sexual violence is not permissible

Tactics for interrupting rape supporting words and attitudes include:

 

Questioning

QUESTIONING/CLARIFYING:

People who express attitudes connected to rape culture expect people to go along with them, to laugh, to agree, to join in. Saying, "I'm not clear about what you mean by that. Maybe you could explain?" or some other form of clarification helps to change the dynamic and flow of conversation. This also encourages people to think about the assumptions that underlie their statements and attitudes. It is especially important to question in a non-aggressive way.

I Statements

MAKING "I" STATEMENTS:

No one enjoys when someone confronts or accuses them. Gently call attention to the comments or behaviors of someone while sidestepping a defense response by opting for a statement that focuses on you. Let the person know why their actions made you feel uncomfortable by

  • stating your feelings;
  • naming their behavior; and
  • identifying an action the person can take in response.
Challenging Media

CHALLENGING MEDIA REPRESENTATIONS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE:

In news, entertainment, and other forms of media, challenge statements or representations that mislead or mischaracterize victims of sexual violence. For example, join the #NoSuchThing campaign by Rights4Girls in calling for accountability from news and other media outlets when phrases like "child prostitute" or "underage woman" are used to describe children who have been sexually assaulted by adults. 

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Digital Intervention

  • Digital bystanders are people who witness harmful behavior perpetrated online. With the multitude of social media and other technology platforms, internet users are exposed to and participate in broad online communities.
  • Digital bystanders have the opportunity to act in situations where harmful actions or attitudes exist in online content or commentary.

Consider the following options:


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REPORTING OR FLAGGING CONTENT THAT DOES NOT ABIDE BY A PLATFORM'S COMMUNITY GUIDELINES. MOST PLATFORMS HAVE LIMITATIONS ON CONTENT THAT IS VULGAR OR ABUSIVE.

Read about the community guidelines
for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat.

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CHALLENGING PROBLEMATIC DIGITAL CONTENT BY RAISING AWARENESS

It may be helpful to raise awareness about problematic content—such as posts with rape supporting attitudes or language—by reposting it to generate discussion. Keep in mind that reposting harmful content may extend the harmful impact, rather than challending it and creating conversation.

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RECORDING OR SCREENSHOTTING

Digital bystanding can provide support by documenting situations of abuse or harm. Taking screenshots and screen recordings can provide a helpful testament to someone's experience if you suspect or detect hat they are in harm's way.

Learn how to screenshot on computer and mobile devices—useful for capturing posts, photos, or comments.

Take a Screenshot: Screen Record:
Apple device Apple device
Mac computer Mac computer
Android device Android device
PC
PC