A bystander is a person who is present when an event takes place but isn’t directly involved. Bystanders might be present when sexual assault or abuse occurs—or they could witness the circumstances that led up to these crimes.
What can you do?
You may have heard the term “bystander intervention” to describe a situation where someone who isn’t directly involved steps in to change the outcome. Stepping in may give the person you’re concerned about a chance to get to a safe place or leave the situation. You don’t have to be a hero or even stand out from the crowd to make a big difference in someone’s life. Take steps to protect someone who may be at risk in a way that fits your comfort level.
Whether you’re taking home a friend who has had too much to drink, explaining that a rape joke isn’t funny, or getting security involved when someone is behaving aggressively, choosing to step in can affect the way those around you think about and respond to sexual violence.
Your Actions Matter!
It’s not always easy to step in, even if you know it’s the right thing to do. It’s okay to have these thoughts, but it’s important to realize that your actions can have a big impact. In many situations, bystanders have the opportunity to prevent crimes like sexual assault from happening in the first place.
Whether or not you were able to change the outcome of the situation, by stepping in you are helping change the way people think about their roles in preventing sexual violence. An easy way to help if you suspect someone needs assistance is to C.A.R.E. Learn more at RAINN.