Be an Active Bystander

“Bystanders are the largest group of people involved in violence”

and because they outnumber perpetrators and victims, bystanders have the power to not only seek help but to help prevent abuse.

When you think about the fact that a bystander may know that a person’s behavior is inappropriate and potentially abusive or illegal, we must also realize that some people may not know what they can do to help. This is why prevention programs need your support. Encouraging the community to contact prevention programs allows for increased public awareness and increased education.

We have all been bystanders at some point, and we will all be in situations where we are bystanders again. We have a choice and together we can make a difference. If someone is in immediate danger calling 911 or local Police may be the best thing to do.

Bystander Intervention Strategies

(Adapted from Men Can Stop Rape,, 2006)

“I” statements

  1. State your feelings
  2. Name the behavior
  3. State how you want the person to respond. This focuses on your feelings rather than criticizing the other person.

Example: “I feel ___________ when you _________________. Please don’t do that anymore.”

Silent Stare

Remember, you don’t have to speak to communicate.
Sometimes a disapproving look can be far more powerful than words.


Reduces the tension of an intervention and makes it easier for the person to hear you. Do not undermine what you say with too much humor. Funny doesn’t mean unimportant.

Group Intervention

There is safety and power in numbers. Best used with someone who has a clear pattern of inappropriate behavior where many examples can be presented as evidence of his/her problem.

Bring it Home

Prevents someone from distancing himself from the impact of his actions.

Example: “I hope no one ever talks about you like that.”

Prevents someone from dehumanizing his targets.

Example: “What if someone said your girlfriend deserved to be raped or called your mother a whore?”

We’re friends, right….?

Reframes the intervention as caring and non-critical.

Example: “Hey ________________. As your friend I’ve gotta tell you that getting a girl drunk to have sex with her isn’t cool, and could get you in a lot of trouble. Don’t do it.”


Snaps someone out of their “sexist comfort zone.”

Example: Ask a man harassing a woman on the street for directions or the time.

Allows a potential target to move away and/or to have other friends intervene.

Example: Spill your drink on the person or interrupt and start a conversation with the person.

La Piñon staff and advocates provide responsive, flexible presentations and professional training sessions concerning sexual assault issues and safety. If you think it would be beneficial to host a La Piñon presentation, please request a presentation or get in touch.