Bystander Intervention and Risk Reduction

Bystander Intervention

You may have heard the term “bystander intervention” to describe a situation where someone who is not directly involved steps in to change the outcome. Stepping in may give the person you are concerned about a chance to get to a safe place or leave the situation.  You do not 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.

The key to keeping your friends, family or coworkers safe is learning how to intervene in a way that fits the situation and your comfort level. Having this knowledge on hand can give you the confidence to step in when something is not right. Stepping in can make all the difference, but it should never put your own safety at risk.

Knowing How to Care:

C reate a distraction

A sk directly

R efer to an authority

E nlist others

Create a Distraction

Do what you can to interrupt the situation. A distraction can give the person at risk a chance to get to a safe place.

  1. Cut off the conversation with a diversion like, “Let’s get pizza, I’m starving,” or “This party is a Let’s try somewhere else.”
  2. Ask for assistance with a project or job that needs to be done
  3. Start an activity that draws other people

Ask Directly

Talk directly to the person, who might be in trouble, asks questions like.

  1. Would you like me to stay with you?
  2. You seem upset; would you like to talk about it?
  3. Is something happening at home? Are you being hurt?

Refer to an Authority

Sometimes the safest way to intervene is to refer to a neutral party with the authority to change the situation, like a supervisor or the police department.

  1. Talk to your supervisor about your concerns. It is in their best interest to ensure a safe learning and working environment.
  2. Do not hesitate to call the police department if you are concerned for someone’s

Enlist Others

  1. Ask someone to come with you to approach the person at risk. When it comes to expressing concern, sometimes there is power in
  2. Ask someone to intervene in your For example, you could ask someone who knows the person at risk to escort them to the bathroom.

Risk Reduction

Without blaming the victim and recognizing that only rapists are responsible for rape, the following are some strategies to reduce the risk of sexual assault or harassment.

  1. Don’t walk alone, especially after dark. Stay on populated, well-lit pathways, and walk with a purpose.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings, realize that sexual assaults occur during daylight hours as well as nighttime.
  3. Walk with purpose. Even if you don’t know where you are going, don’t act like you are lost.
  4. Element of surprise – Make it tough for someone to take you by surprise – don’t wear ear buds when walking, running or studying.  If you feel you are being followed, head toward crowds, lights and walk with friends.
  5. Keep your car doors locked at all times.
  6. Don’t engage an unknown caller in conversation or text. Don’t give away personal details. Keep track of when threatening texts, call or emails are made and what is said. Save them to share with staff members who can assist you.
  7. If you feel someone is stalking you, report it to the Police Department.
  8. Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, or sense you are being followed, go to a populated area.
  9. Don’t leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call. If you have left your drink alone, just get a new one.
  10. Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know or if you choose to accept a drink, go with the person to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself. At parties, don’t drink from the punch bowls or other large, common open containers.
  11. Watch out for your friends, and vice versa. If a friend seems to act differently, is way too intoxicated for the amount of alcohol they have had, or is acting out of character, get him or her to a safe place immediately.
  12. If you suspect you or a friend has been drugged, contact law enforcement. Be explicit with doctors so they can give you the correct tests.
  13. Be true to yourself. Don’t feel obligated to do anything you don’t want to do. “I don’t want to” is always a good enough reason. Do what feels right to you and what you are comfortable with.
  14. Have a code word with your friends or family.  This way if you don’t feel comfortable, you can call them and communicate your discomfort without the person you are with knowing.  Your friends or family can then come to get you or make up an excuse for you to leave.
  15. Utilize the PCPD escort service by calling 760-891-7273 (Police Dispatch).