Intervening when you see gender-based violence happening

Do you see your friend violating someone else’s boundaries or acting in a way that seems violent to you? Do you see a situation developing where it looks like someone is unable to give their consent? You CAN do something to be supportive.

What Prevents Bystanders from Intervening?

  • If no one else is acting, it is hard to go against the crowd
  • People may feel that they are risking embarrassment. What if I’m wrong and they don’t need help?
  • They may think there is someone else in the group who is more qualified to help.
  • They may think that the situation does not call for help since no one else is doing anything.
  • With each person taking cues from people around them, a common result is that no action is taken.

If you feel it is safe for you to do so, consider letting the aggressive person know that it is not okay for them to disrespect someone’s boundaries, feel entitled to act in ways that cause discomfort to others or make sexual moves without consent.

Seek help from others who are like-minded to help you intervene. Diffuse the situation. Don’t turn a blind eye. Believe and support someone who might be feeling violated.

Let us all hold each other to a higher standard. Silence and belief in stereotypes about sex and sexuality often make it easier for some people to get away with being violent towards others.

Resources about bystander intervention

This issue of the Partners in Social Change online resource is about bystanders as agents of primary prevention. Read through for many interesting articles about bystander intervention.

Hollaback! is an organization against street harassment, that has some suggestions for ways that bystanders can intervene in violent situations involving street harassment. Check out their suggestions here

Men Can Stop Rape has a new campaign called Where Do You Stand? that has an array of materials and trainings about bystander intervention.