Office of Civility

Active Bystander

What is Active Bystander Intervention?

  • Encourages people to identify situations that might lead to sexual misconduct.
  • Encourages people to safely intervene to prevent an assault or rape from occurring.
  • Places the focus on prevention – what people can do together – rather than victim blaming.
  • Empowers everyone to say or do something when they see inappropriate or harmful behavior.
  • Places the responsibility of sexual assault prevention on both men and women.
  • Provides a range of strategies for intervention.
  • Does not require risking personal safety or the well-being of others.
  • The focus becomes “How can we learn to say something?” rather than “How you let this happen?”

What are the steps for Active Bystander Intervention?

1. Notice behavior (disrespect or manipulation)

  • Not listening to or respecting what is said
  • Sexually explicit jokes
  • Touching without permission
  • Encouraging excessive drinking (alcohol)
  • Using hostile or derogatory language when talking about partners or potential sexual partners
  • Making decisions without valuing the opinion of a partner
  • Use of guilt or manipulation when others resist their sexual desires or comments
  • Act possessive or jealous
  • Unrealistic expectations of gender roles in relationships
  • Attempts to isolate a member of the group
  • Blames actions on sexually explicit dress or behavior

2. Recognize personal responsibility to intervene

  • Intervene at the earliest possible point

3. Know your intervention options

  • Direct – Say something directly to those involved to prevent or stop the situation or behavior (e.g., after hearing a joke, say “rape jokes aren’t funny”, or “that joke isn’t okay”)
  • Delegate – Ask or seek help from others, call 911 (e.g., tell your friends, tell the bartender)
  • Indirect – Interrupt, redirect, distract, observe (e.g., walk up to them “Hey, can you give me directions to …“, or “Aren’t you in my English class?”

4. Follow Up

  • Check to make sure everyone is safe
  • Make sure everyone leaves together
  • Make sure everyone has a safe way home

What are Active Bystander Intervention Strategies?

  • Share your observation with a friend
  • Share your observation directly with those involved
  • Use an excuse to get him/her out of a potentially dangerous situation
  • Let a friend or co-worker know that his or her actions may lead to serious consequences
  • Never leave a friend despite the efforts of someone to get them alone or away from you
  • Use a group of friends to remind someone behaving inappropriately that his or her behavior should be respectful
  • Take steps to curb someone’s use of alcohol before problems occur
  • Call the authorities when the situation warrants
  • Encourage people to respect each other
  • Make sure friends get home safely
  • Encourage friends to trust their instincts
  • Interrupt or distract to separate
  • Be aware of comments and behaviors
  • Don’t joke – Don’t blame
  • Interrupt the friend who is trying to take advantage of someone
  • Say something to the friend who is talking about getting someone intoxicated
  • Discourage friends from joking about others in degrading ways