The six steps to bystander action

Tips for intervening to stop sexual misconduct

  1. Notice an occurrence along the spectrum of behaviours. Here are some of the questions to ask :
    1. What is the context?  What just happened before this situation?
    2. Who has the most power in this situation? For example, can the person in this situation leave freely? Is someone under pressure? Has everyone given their consent?
    3. What is the impact on the person in the situation? For example, how is their physical and mental health affected? Will other people see them differently as a result of what’s happening?
  2. Decide that something is amiss or unacceptable.
  3. Take personal responsibility.
    1. If no one intervenes, what will likely happen?
    2. Is someone else better placed to respond?
    3. What would be my purpose in responding?
  4. Assess your options for giving help (See Bystander Intervention Strategies).
  5. Determine the potential risks of taking action.
    1. Are there risks to myself? Are there risks to others (e.g. potential retaliation against the person being "helped")?
    2. How do I approach the situation in a friendly way so that I don’t further escalate the situation?
    3. Is there a low-risk option?
    4. How could I reduce risks?
    5. Is there more information I can get to better assess the situation?
    6. How can I create more options for the person experiencing violence? 
  6. Intervene:
    1. In all cases, a successful bystander intervention will provide more options for the person experiencing the sexual misconduct. It is important to note that bystander intervention should be seen as a sort of “first-aid” for sexual misconduct, and will unfortunately not address the root causes of the incident of sexual misconduct; and
    2. It is also important to note that the strategy used by a bystander will depend on the context, and the bystander’s confidence level. The important point to remember is that there is no bad bystander intervention, as any action on behalf of the bystander is better than none. With practice, jumping in as a bystander becomes easier, and just like any skill or habit, people become more comfortable and creative in how to diffuse situations.
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