Thoughts On Bystander Intervention in Rape Incidents

Bystander Intervention

Be an intervener! Stop these incidents before they occur, and talk to your
friends about it so that they will intervene as well! (from the University of

The Bystander
Intervention Model
 predicts that people are more likely to help others
under certain conditions.

1. Notices the Incident

Bystanders first must notice the incident taking place. Obviously, if they don’t
take note of the situation there is no reason to help.

2. Interpret incident as emergency

Bystanders also need to evaluate the situation and determine whether it is an
emergency—or at least one in which someone needs assistance. Again, if people do
not interpret a situation as one in which someone needs assistance, then there
is no need to provide help.

3. Assume Responsibility

Another decision bystanders make is whether they should assume responsibility
for giving help. One repeated finding in research studies on helping is that a
bystander is less likely to help if there are other bystanders present. When
other bystanders are present responsibility for helping is diffused. If a lone
bystander is present he or she is more likely to assume responsibility.

4. Attempts to Help (See Tips for Intervening and Bystander Playbook below)

Whether this is to help the person leave the situation, confront a behavior,
diffuse a situation, or call for other support/security.

The best way bystanders can assist in creating an empowering climate free of
interpersonal violence is to diffuse the problem behaviors before they escalate.

  • Educate yourself about interpersonal violence AND share this info with
  • Confront friends who make excuses for other peoples abusive behavior
  • Speak up against racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes or remarks

Tips for Intervening

In a situation potentially involving sexual assault, relationship violence, or

  • Approach everyone as a friend
  • Do not be antagonistic
  • Avoid using violence
  • Be honest and direct whenever possible
  • Recruit help if necessary
  • Keep yourself safe
  • If things get out of hand or become too serious, contact the police

The Bystander Intervention Playbook

(From the University of Vermont)

  • Defensive Split
     – Step in and separate two people. Let them know
    your concerns and reasons for intervening. Be a friend and let them know you
    are acting in their best interest. Make sure each person makes it home

  • Pick and Roll
     – Use a distraction to redirect the focus somewhere
    else: “Hey, I need to talk to you.” or “Hey, this party is lame. Let’s go
    somewhere else.”

  • The Option
     – Evaluate the situation and people involved to
    determine your best move. You could directly intervene yourself, or alert
    friends of each person to come in and help. If the person reacts badly, try
    a different approach.

  • Full Court Press
     – Recruit the help of friends of both people to
    step in as a group.

  • Fumblerooski
     – Divert the attention of one person away from the
    other person. Have someone standing by to redirect the other person’s focus
    (see Pick and Roll). Commit a party foul (i.e. spilling your drink) if you
    need to.

*Please remember that any situation that threatens physical harm to yourself or
another person should be assessed carefully. Contact police if needed to assist
to defuse the situation.