Bystanders play a critical role in the prevention of sexual violence and relationship violence. These individuals observe violence or the environmental conditions that perpetuate it but are not directly involved in the events. They have the ability to intervene, report the situation, and affect change. Polk State College promotes a culture of community accountability, where bystanders are encouraged to be actively engaged in the prevention of violence. Many individuals feel compelled to assist when observing abusive situations, but this may increase the chance of bringing harm to a victim or to themselves. The following list provides some suggested actions for those who wish to safely assist potential victims. Individuals should:
- Maintain awareness of the relationships and environments of friends, fellow students, and employees. By having this connection, a bystander may be able to help if a person appears to need it.
- Confront a person who secludes, “hits on,” tries to “make out” with, or tries to have sex with an incapacitated individual.
- Speak up when someone indicates a desire to take advantage of another person sexually.
- Listen to and believe a person who discloses an incident of sexual assault, sexual exploitation, domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence, or stalking.
- Refer individuals who have been victimized to on- or off-campus resources for health-related support, counseling, and legal assistance.
Note: If there is immediate danger (e.g., one person is being physically abusive towards another) and it is not safe to interrupt the situation, the bystander should promptly contact 911 and Campus Safety and Security at 863.297.1059.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) – Bystander Intervention Tips and Strategies (See “Related Info” in top right corner)
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.4673. For Male Survivors of childhood sexual abuse: org/men/get-help
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.7233. To find local resources and information about domestic violence, search org’s online database.
- Teen Dating Violence Hotline: 1.866.331.9474.loveisrespect.org