Any UW-Madison student is eligible to use Survivor Services and our Women’s Health Clinic
Bystander Intervention is the idea that we all have a role to play in the prevention of violence in our community. A bystander is someone who witnesses a dangerous or harmful event and has the ability to help. Through training and practice, students can become empowered to interrupt and challenge harmful behaviors and attitudes that may lead to sexual and relationship violence. Here are the steps you need to know to be an active bystander.
First: Identify the problem
A common barrier to intervening is the inability to interpret the event as problematic. For example, it might seem typical to witness someone making sexual advances towards another student under the influence of alcohol. But it’s important to know that slurred words or stumbling to stand are common signs of incapacitation, an indication that clear consent cannot be given. At this point, the priority should be making sure the student gets home safely.
Second: Assume personal responsibility
Sexual assault on college campuses is a community issue. As a member of this community, we all have a responsibility to step up and intervene. Not only do Badgers get consent, but Badgers take care of one another. What happens to one of us affects all of us. Yes, it IS our business and It’s On Us to help stop sexual assault.
Third: Take action
The next step is to take action. There are many different ways to intervene. One option is to use a direct approach. If you feel comfortable, try addressing the person directly by challenging what they are saying or doing and suggesting to “back off.” You could also try distracting one of the people involved. Approach and strike up a casual introduction or ask a question to interrupt the situation. This can help by preventing the person from being isolated and by recruiting others to help. For example: “Hey, don’t I have physics with you? What did you think of that last exam? Ben get over here! This girl is in our physics class!”
Remember, there is no one right way to intervene. If you’re not in a position to help before something bad happens, it’s always ok to step in afterwards and ask, “Are you ok?”
Help is available for student survivors of sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking, visit http://www.uhs.wisc.edu/assault/sa-resources.shtml.
Written by Yang Shape Lor, UHS EVOC Men’s Involvement Coordinator and geology major