It takes the whole VIU community to ensure the safety of everyone and to foster a culture of respect. All of us have the ability to look out for each other’s safety, but the only person responsible for committing sexual misconduct is the perpetrator. We encourage every member of our community to be an active bystander to help prevent and address sexual misconduct.
What is a bystander and bystander intervention?
A bystander is a person who is present when an event takes place but isn’t directly involved. Bystanders might be present when sexual misconduct occurs or they could witness the circumstances that lead up to these incidents.
Bystander intervention refers to safe and positive ways that individuals who witness sexual harassment or misconduct can do to intervene and protect others. This can include identifying and stopping situations before they happen; stepping in during an incident; supporting an individual after an incident; or speaking out against ideas and behavior that support sexual misconduct.
The key to keeping your friends safe is learning how to intervene in a way that fits the situation and your comfort level. Having this knowledge on hand can give you the confidence to step in when something isn’t right. Stepping in can make all the difference, but it should never put your own safety at risk.
How can you be an active bystander?
Create a Distraction: Do what you can to interrupt the situation. A distraction can give the person at risk a chance to get to a safe place.
Ask Directly: Talk directly to the person who might be in trouble. Ask if they’re okay or who their friends are.
Refer to an Authority: Sometimes the safest way to intervene is to refer to a neutral party with the authority to change the situation, like a police officer or security office.
If you’re at a restaurant or bar, talk to a security guard, bartender, or another employee about your concerns. It’s in their best interest to ensure that their patrons are safe, and they are usually willing to step in.
Enlist Others: It can be intimidating to approach a situation alone. Enlist another person to support you.
Ask someone to come with you to approach the person at risk. Ask someone to intervene in your place. Enlist the friend of the person you are concerned about.
Your actions matter.
Whether or not you were able to change the outcome of a situation, by stepping in you are helping change the way people think about their roles in preventing violence and sexual misconduct.