Every woman is painfully aware of the fact that each year there are over 293,000 victims (age 12 or older) of sexual assault in the US each year. In some cases, there could be bystanders present to prevent it from occurring. There are many reasons why someone doesn’t intervene in the situation everything from “it’s not my business” to “I don’t want my friend to be mad at me.”  And it is okay to think those things, but it is so important that you remember you can have the impact to help someone from having to experience that trauma. 

It is important to engage in your surroundings and intervene when you hear or see someone threaten, harass, or commit sexual violence on another person. Engaging in your surroundings means staying aware of what is happening around you. There are some very important ways to be able to intervene and it is important to do so only as you are comfortable and that every situation is different.

DISRUPT

The first way is to disrupt the situation. This can mean asking the harasser for directions if you see them following someone in the street. Disrupting can also mean pretending like you know the person who is being targeted and striking up a conversation so that the person goes away thinking that they aren’t alone.

ASK DIRECTLY

Don’t be afraid to ask the person who is being targeted if they are okay. Ask them if they have a plan for a ride home. Or even ask to stay with them until their friend comes. When I was working at a bar I noticed a group of guys staring at a girl and talking grossly about her and she was alone. I just walked over and asked if she was okay and if she was there with someone and then I asked if I could wait with her until her friend came back. That situation is not an uncommon one and may not have been a sexual assault situation but at least she could feel safer. 

GET A FRIEND TO HELP

If you aren’t comfortable with intervening on your own get a friend to help out! That can be having them distract the harasser while you talk to the victim etc. This method can help you feel more comfortable. It can also reinforce the idea that unsafe behavior isn’t welcome in your community.

FIND SOMEONE WITH AUTHORITY

If you are in a public place that can mean finding a server or bartender. You can ask the bouncer to help too, a teacher, or even the police. Finding someone who has the authority to intervene on your behalf can alleviate pressure on yourself to act and it can make sure that if it was a bad situation they can get the help they need.

There are many ways to intervene as a bystander to prevent sexual violence. If you want to learn other ways you can find more information on NSVRC.com or RAINN.org. As women, it is important for us to step up and keep others safe. We can make a difference even if it is a small one you never know how much that can help someone else. 

If you are the victim of sexual violence you can call the national sexual assault hotline at 800.656.HOPE (800.656.4673) or find resources at online.rainn.org

Hannah C
FFL Cabinet Member

Hannah has lived all over the world from Sydney, Australia to Chester, England but settled in Wichita, KS. She loves tea, Frank Sinatra, and her cat.