Turning Points Network
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Turning Points Network

We can work together to stop violence in our schools and community.
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Who is a bystander?

Why Bystanders? A bystander is someone who sees or hears something happening to someone else. Bystanders face an important choice when someone is in potential danger: do nothing or do something.

Ignore it? = Doing Nothing

Wish it wasn’t happening? = Doing Nothing

Sometimes people think that all bystanders are people who simply stand by and watch or listen. But there are bystanders who stand up.

Often, bystanders can have a strong, positive impact by taking action. We want to help you DO SOMETHING, SAFELY (See Safety Section below). Every situation is different, every person is different. There is not one“recipe” for how to be a positive bystander. But below you will find some ideas to put in your bystander tool box. (See Tips for Intervening)

In situations of alcohol and sexual assault, there is often someone who can intervene to help protect a potential victim. In the video here, you see a bystander questioning a person who clearly is planning to leave a party with someone who is intoxicated. Another bystander comes over to offer to bring the girl to her house instead. Two different bystanders taking two different actions both helped prevent a potential sexual assault. (Remember, someone who is under the influence cannot give consent to sexual activity; it can be illegal to have sex with someone who is under the influence. Additionally, in NH, the legal age of consent is 16.)

Bystanders often have mixed feelings. It can be confusing to know what to do, or scary to risk doing something when you don’t know how others will react. Sometimes bystanders freeze, unsure what to do. Remember to asdess the situation and your safety {See Safety Section} before taking any action.

Safety It is important for you to know that your safety is the first and foremost priority to consider in intervening.

Individuals will make different choices as to how to intervene. Some people are more comfortable with speaking directly when intervening, or there are other ways you can comfortably intervene.

You can: Intervene as a friend. Do not antagonize the situation. Be honest and direct with your words. If you don’t feel safe in intervening, get help.You can ask someone to intervene, seek help from an adult, or call the police. The main thing to remember is to try to do something and be safe.

Tips for Intervening No two situations are the same. To intervene effectively, you will need to assess what’s happening and figure out the best way to approach it.

Here are a few types of intervention you can try:

Trust yourself: Listen to your instincts. If others are ignoring a potential sexual assault, maybe you can be the one to intervene.

Distract: Try to engage the potential perpetrator by interrupting, changing the subject, asking for their help with something, etc. Give the target time to walk away or link up with other friends.

Call it like you see it: Be direct, but not confrontational. Naming the behavior may be enough to stop a potential perpetrator. Use non-verbal cues: A pointed stare or change in your body language (like moving to stand with a potential target) may interrupt what is happening.

Defuse: Use humor to de-escalate a situation. It may feel like you’re making light of what’s happening, but a joke can take the edge off a situation or break the tension.

Recruit help: Get a friend or two to intervene with you.

Know when to hold back: Remember that your safety comes first. For more ideas about how to intervene, check out these links for help and guidance.

Know Your Power - A campaign from The University of New Hampshire Information, resources and a bystander’s “playbook” from William & Mary College.

Circle of 6 - An app designed to help you stay safe, stay connected, and prevent violence before it happens.

TPN can help you sort out who to tell, and when. And remember, while you are figuring this out, you can call us anonymously. 1-800-639-3130.