What Can I Do?

Potential Victim / Bystander Intervention / Victim / Support

As a member of our society, we could be categorized into four areas related to Sexual Misconduct/Domestic Violence: a potential victim, a bystander that could intervene a situation, victim or a support person. It is important to educate ourselves on how or what we can do in these areas such as reducing the risk of being a victim, if we witness a sexual assault or become a victim of a sexual assault, or if a friend or family member is a victim.

Risk Reduction

Being raped or sexually assaulted is never the victims' fault.

  • Lock your door.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol and drugs. They can interfere with clear thinking.
  • Know your limits; plan ahead.
  • Walk with people you know and trust.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help before, during, or after an assault.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Keep campus emergency numbers in your cell phone.
  • Always trust your instincts when something doesn’t “feel right”.
  • If a person is drunk, he or she cannot legally consent to sex.
  • Be assertive: don’t allow politeness, fear of hurting someone’s feelings or accusations that you have “led someone on” trap you into a dangerous situation.
  • Know your sexual boundaries and clearly communicate them.
  • Don’t be a silent bystander. If you see someone in a potentially dangerous situation, speak up or get help.

Bystander Intervention

*adapted from the NSVRC Engaging Bystanders in Sexual Violence Prevention

Bystander intervention is when a person or group of people take action to interrupt or assist to improve the outcome of the situation.

Steps to Bystander Intervention

  1. Notice something is wrong/inappropriate
  2. Identify events as problems
  3. Consider taking action
  4. Choose what form of assistance to use and understand how to implement the choice
  5. Intervene
  6. Evaluate

Bystander intervention does not have to be time-consuming or complicated, often a small act can change the course of events. Below are a few examples of effective methods for intervention, but there are many ways to take action to improve a situation.

I statements have three parts. 1. State your feelings, 2. Name the behavior 3. State how you want the person to respond. This focuses on your feelings rather than criticizes the other person

Silent Stares are a disapproving look that lets someone know what they are doing is inappropriate, think of that look you get from your parents when you are breaking a rule.

Humor reduces the tension of an intervention by using a funny antidote. Do not undermine what you say with too much humor. Funny doesn’t’ mean unimportant, hurtful or degrading.

Group Intervention is when a group of friends, family members, co-workers or acquaintances work together to address a situation either a long-term problem with a person or an immediate situation that has made them uncomfortable.

Distractions are simply used to snap someone out of a situation by providing an interruption that can give the potential target of the behavior a chance to move away or get help from another friend.

How to Help a Friend that has been a victim of sexual assault or rape

  • Provide support by listening, being present and believing your friend. Don't judge or question the victim's choices. Do not give advice.
  • Expect a range of emotions, including lack of emotion and shock.
  • Be patient. Allow your friend to move through the recovery process at his/her own pace.
  • Help to empower your loved one. Rape and sexual violence are crimes that take away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your loved one to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.
  • Gather information on the campus, local and national resources that can help your friend. Talk to him/her about these resources and how they might be helpful. Realize that only your friend can make the decision to get help.
  • Be a friend, not a bystander. Get involved if you see someone at risk. You might save a friend from becoming a victim of sexual assault.
  • Respect your friends wishes for privacy and confidentiality
  • Acknowledge your own emotions about what happened to your friends and seek help processing your experience as a friend/bystander (*do NOT contact or confront the perpetrator)