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Bystander Intervention

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Be An Active Bystander

A bystander is a witness to an event. An active bystander is someone who witnesses an event, and then does something to help. These actions help to create a safe, respectful, and welcoming community.

An estimated 1 in 16 men and 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their college years. At WVU, 840 men and 3,356 women could potentially be sexually assaulted while a student.

LGBTQ+ community members are at greater risk of being sexually assaulted than counterparts identifying as heterosexual. Transgender people and bisexual women face the greatest risk of sexual violence at 50% and 46% , respectively. Trans people of color face the greatest risk of sexual violence: Identifying as Native American 65% ; identifying as Middle Eastern 59% ; and identifying as Black 53% .

Steps to Bystander Intervention:

  1. Notice the event. This starts by paying attention to your surroundings!

  2. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that could happen if I don’t intervene in this situation?” This allows you to think through whether this event is problematic, and it helps you to assume personal responsibility.

  3. Take action!

White women report 80% of all sexual assaults. Women of color are more likely to be assaulted but less likely to report. An estimated 60% of Black girls will have been sexually abused by age 18. 1 in 3 Native American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and are 2.5-3.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault when compared to other races. Across all gender identities, sexualities, and age groups, people of color are at a disproportionately higher risk of being sexually assaulted.

These statistics are presented by WellWVU and WVU Peer Advocates .

If You See Something, Do Something

Before deciding which strategy to use, consider: your personal safety, your position in that situation, and weigh the consequences and benefits of intervening.

Strategies include the 4 D’s of bystander intervention:

  • Direct – Directly intervene. Go up to the person and stop the behavior.

  • Distract – Do something to distract either party.

    • Examples: “Hey! I think your car is getting towed!”, “OMG, I haven’t seen you in FOREVER. Let’s chat!”, “There’s someone looking for you – you should go find them.”

  • Delegate – Get help from others. Get the bouncer of the club, your friends, the potential aggressor’s or victims’ friends, or the host of the party to help you. This is an especially useful strategy if intervening directly might jeopardize your personal safety.

  • Delay – Check in later. It’s possible that someone may not want help at that moment, but they might want it later.

Related Educational Resources

See similar informational materials.

How You Can Help

Learn how you can help yourself or others who have experienced an act of sexual violence.

Risk Reduction

Sexual violence can happen to anyone and it is NEVER the victim’s fault. Learn about ways to minimize your risk of being victimized and protect yourself.

The Red Zone

Learn about the red zone and its implications for college students.

Sexual Violence Resources

Find on-campus, local, state, and national organizations available to support and guide survivors of sexual violence. You are not alone.