Bystanders are individuals who witness emergencies, criminal events, or unsafe situations and by their presence may have the opportunity to provide assistance. At UVa, we hope that these individuals choose to become active bystanders to influence the situation in a positive way. Sexual violence can be prevented and each of us have the potential to contribute (see #HOOSGotYourBack).
What can active bystanders do to have each other’s backs in our community?
- Use the Sexual Violence Education & Resources website to educate yourself on resources on Grounds and in the community.
- Believe someone who tells you they have been sexually assaulted, are in an abusive relationship, or are experiencing stalking and let them control how and when to access resources.
- Be respectful of yourself and others—make sure effective consent is obtained for any sexual act in which you engage. If not, check in with your partner and make sure you are both comfortable with what is going on.
- Speak up—if someone says or does something offensive, derogatory, or abusive, tell them that this behavior is wrong and unacceptable.
Remember the 3 D’s:
- Direct: Take action.
- Distract: Interrupt a situation that has the potential to cause a problem.
- Delegate: Enlist others to help.
- Request a presentation for your organization.
- Join a sexual assault advocacy, prevention, and education group on Grounds.
- Complete the violence prevention training on the Hoos Making a Safer Community site.
- Submit active bystander stories to encourage others to act.
There are a lot of theories about why people DON’T intervene*:
- They believe that someone else will do it;
- They’re afraid of being embarrassed if they make a mistake;
- They’re not sure if it’s an urgent situation, so they look around to see what other folks do;
- They think the other person is responsible for their own fate;
- If they see someone else helping, they’re more likely to help, too.
There are all sorts of personal reasons not to get involved: peer pressure, values, cultural morals, and more. Can you think of some reasons that might get in the way for you? We all have them. The challenge is to know what they are and then figure out how to work around them, if we can. Being an active bystander isn’t as difficult as you might think!