Bystander Intervention

Jump to related links

Be an Active Bystander!

  • An active bystander steps in when they sense trouble or see behavior that is wrong. You can be an active bystander by following these guidelines:
  • Pay Attention. Be aware of situations that could lead to sexual violence.
  • Responsibility. You are a member of the Mercy community—a community of individuals that care for one another.
  • Integrity. Make a commitment to have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct and gender discrimination. Be a leader by verbalizing your commitment.
  • Confidence. Trust your intuition when you think someone is being harassed or abused. Ask for assistance if necessary.
  • Safety. Always put your own safety first. Get away from a situation and get help if an immediate threat is present.
  • Resource. You can be a resource for friends and peers who have experienced sexual violence. Visit the Title IX Resources page for a list of local places for you or a friend to receive assistance.

Bystander intervention is a sexual assault prevention strategy that encourages witnesses to take safe action when they see a situation that might lead to sexual assault, and to support survivors after an incident.

Being an active bystander does not require that you risk our own safety or the well-being of others. The goal is to aid in the prevention of violence without causing further threat, harm, or damage. There is a range of responses you can use that are appropriate, depending on the situation.

However, if you or someone else is in immediate danger, calling 911 is the best action a bystander can take.

Change the Culture

  • Don’t participate in sexist conversation. Don’t laugh at jokes about sexual violence.
  • Change the subject when you hear sexist or rape-supportive comments.
  • Address it. Tell your friends that sexist or rape-supportive comments are not OK.
  • Watch for signs of predatory behavior. Intervene to prevent a sexual assault from taking place.
  • Remember, sexual assault and sexual harassment are not the fault of the survivor, it is the fault of the offender.

What Would You Do?

View an example above of bystander intervention from the series, “What Would You Do?”

Questions to consider when watching the video

  • How would you respond to this situation?
  • What would you want the narrator to say about you?

What Would You Do?

A woman, drinking alone at bar, begins to receive unwanted advances from one of the patrons — and he will not take no for an answer. Would you step in on the woman's behalf to stop the unwelcome flirtation, bordering on harassment?