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Bystander Intervention

Risk Reduction

Note: The ONLY person that can prevent the crime of sexual assault is the perpetrator.  Risk reduction is a method attempting to interrupt or stop a sexual assault in progress.


Sexual Assault Risk Reduction

  • Offer to drive your friend(s) home from social events

  • Use the ‘buddy-system’

  • Accompany friend(s) to social events

  • Keep an eye on your friend(s) at all times

  • Make sure your friend(s) always keep an eye on their drink

  • Go to social events with a designated sober person (someone who can tell when someone in your group is not acting like themselves)


If you witness something suspicious…

  • Intervene and find out what is going on

  • Try to distract the potential perpetrator

  • Offer to call a cab

  • Track down the potential victim’s friend(s) and tell them what’s going on

  • Keep an eye on the situation

  • Interrupt the scene

  • Call for help

Bystander Intervention

What is bystander intervention?

Aiming to reduce sexual assault victimization and perpetration, while holding perpetrators more accountable for their actions


How do I know when to intervene?

Ask yourself:

  • Is there a potential problem?

  • Does someone need help?

    • (If YOU were in the same situation, would you want help?)

  • Are you able to help?  Is it safe for you to intervene?

  • Will anyone else help or stand up for this person if you don’t?

    • REMEMBER the bystander effect!

Look out for sexually or physically aggressive behaviors:


  • Inappropriate touching

  • Pushing boundaries

  • Overly sexual remarks

  • Targeting an intoxicated person

  • Encouraging or pressuring heavy drinking

  • Isolation (i.e., taking someone to a room, outside, etc.)

When in doubt, trust your gut instincts!

Bystander Roles

Bystander: A person who witnesses an act of violence


Bystander Effect: The more bystanders that witness the incident, the less likely they all are to call for help


  • In 1964, Kitty Genovese was raped and murdered

    • There were 38 bystanders who witnessed and/or heard the assault

    • Not a single person called for help during the attack


Examples of Bystander Situations:

  • You’re at a party and you overhear someone’s plan to sexually take advantage of another person

  • You hear someone joke about getting someone drunk in order to have sex with them

  • You think you see someone slip something into a drink

  • You see someone who is clearly impaired being taken away from the party and are unsure of their safety


Being a Bystander Everyday:

  • Share this handout with others (drop or post copies at local businesses, share online, etc.

  • Coordinate PAVE Bystander Intervention trainings at your school, workplace, community organization, etc.

  • Speak up when you hear someone making jokes that trivialize sexual assault  or dehumanize others (sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic language)

  • Learn and educate others on how male socialization (masculinity) can add to the epidemic of sexual assault

  • Volunteer with local organizations focused on combatting sexual assault



The National Sexual Violence Resource Center Tabachnick, J. (2008) Engaging bystanders in sexual violence prevention. Retrieved May 22, 2010 from

Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (

Stimulate Conversation (

William & Mary Sexual Assault Resources and Education (

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