Bystander Intervention

What is a Bystander?

Bystanders are the largest group of people involved in violence. They are not directly involved as the victim or abuser, but bystanders know violence is occurring, or see it happening.

Bystanders can choose to intervene and be an active bystander, or be a passive bystander and choose not to act. Which will you be?

What is the Bystander Effect?

This is a theory in Social Psychology that suggests bystanders are less likely to help a victim if there are other people around.

Have you ever been in a situation where you saw something happen, and you thought:
Maybe I should help?
But because there were other people around you thought:
Oh, I bet any of these people are more capable than I am.
What if I do something stupid?
What if I just make it worse?
This is the bystander effect, and pretty much all of us have done it. However, since most of us do it, the result is often that the victim doesn't get any help from any bystander at the time. Don't be guilty of the bystander effect, and be an active bystander instead.

What is Bystander Intervention?

  • Put simply, bystander intervention means you get in the way. When bystanders act, it can change the outcome of an event, or prevent it from escalating.
  • Bystander intervention involves developing the awareness, skills, and courage needed to intervene in a situation when another individual needs help.

How to be an Active, Helpful Bystander

It's not always easy to step up and say or do something when you see violence happening, especially if there are other bystanders present who aren't intervening. Taking action may or may not change the outcome of the violence, but it can change the way other people start reacting to violent situations.
Step in and offer assistance
  • Ask if the person needs help, as early as possible.
  • NOTE: Before stepping in, make sure to evaluate the risk. If it means putting yourself in danger, or making the situation worse, call 911 instead.
Don't leave

If you remain at the scene and are a witness, the perpetrator is less likely to do anything.
Discourage Their Actions

If you know the perpetrator, tell the person you do not approve of their actions. Ask the person to leave the potential victim alone.
Practice taking C.A.R.E
  • Create a Distraction
  • Ask Directly
  • Refer to Authorities
  • Enlist Others

Ways to Keep Yourself, and Others Safe


Be around Friends

When you go to a party, go with a group of friends

Buddy System

Arrive together, check in with each other frequently, leave together


Don't be afraid to let a friend know if you are worried about their safety

Get Involved
Together We can Create Change by Taking Action

What would you do as a bystander in the following scenarios? As a bystander, you can be an ally for others and provide support.
You think your friend is in an abusive or unhealthy relationship.
You are sitting with your friends outside and a group of individuals nearby start making sexual gestures and comments to one of the friends sitting with you.
A teammate tells you their partner is hurting them, harassing them and/or forcing them into sexual situations.
You notice one of your friends making lewd, rude, or degrading comments about a classmate.
Your friend thinks they were raped and doesn't know what to do.
It's important to be aware of options and resources when supporting yourself and others during instances of abuse, assault or potential abuse. As a bystander, you have the power to take action when needed to change outcomes and help create a culture of folks who act!