Samford University

Samford University

How to Help

Bystander Intervention

A bystander is a person who possesses knowledge about, or who is present, at an event, but did not actually participate in it. In terms of abuse and violence, the bystander can give an abuser or perpetrator of violence power by not saying or doing anything to stop abuse or violence. While the University does not encourage or want a person to jeopardize their personal safety, a bystander can be a vital campus resource by actively engaging in behavior designed to end abuse and violence on campus.

Bystander Intervention Techniques

Watch out for your friends and other students: If you see your friend doing or saying something inappropriate, be a true friend and tell him to stop. Let your friend know the behavior you are witnessing is not right. Additionally, if you see someone who appears to be in trouble, say something; ask them if they are okay.

Speak up and speak out: If you hear or see someone doing something that is not right, let them know that you believe their behavior is wrong. Let them know if they do not stop the questionable behavior, that you will call or report them to the authorities. Do not laugh at racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes. Challenge your friends and acquaintances to be respectful of differences and people.

Be respectful: You should model the behavior you know is right for your friends and acquaintances. The behavior you model in your relationship can be a great guide for your friends to follow.

Create a distraction: If you witness a friend harassing another person, intervene by asking your friend a question or ask your friend to accompany you to a different location. If it is a stranger intervention, from a distance ask the individual for directions or for the time. The goal of distraction is to provide the victim time to move away and to provide the abuser a chance to refocus his/her thoughts.

Silent stare: Sometimes the most powerful action a person can take is to provide a disapproving stare. The use of the stare provides the perpetrator understanding they are being watched and that their behavior is being seen by another.