Violence Prevention Grey Bruce

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Bystander Intervention Skills Everyone Should Have

We have all been at a party or some event where we witness someone being harassed or coerced in some way.  We watch for a minute and wonder to ourselves whether we should get involved and intervene?

We may decide that it is none of our business or that we are too scared to get involved and choose to do nothing at all.

We could decide to get involved and make a plan of action to make ensure the safety of the person who is being targeted.  Any plan of action needs to consider our own safety as well, so don’t do it alone. Get your friends together or ask the security staff for help.

You can interrupt sketchy behaviour at a bar, concert, or a party to prevent sexual violence. If you are unsure about how to intervene, here are some suggestions for intervening in social situations. These skills are new for lots of people and just like first aid, they require learning, relearning, and practice.

Bystander Intervention Skills


Don’t go it alone. Gather your peeps. Who is near that can help? A friend? Security staff? Even if it’s just to confirm that the behaviour is not OK.

  • “I think she needs our help, but I don’t know what to do. Have any ideas?”
  • “Will you watch while I go chat with them?”


Approach either the person being targeted or the person doing the harassing and be direct.

  • “Are you OK?”
  • “Can I help you?”
  • “That’s not OK.”
  • “You need to stop.”


Think of a way to distract the folks involved in the situation: either the person being targeted or the person doing the harassing.

  • “Can you take a pic of my friends and I?”
  • “What time is it?”
  • “Where’s the washrooms?”
  • “That’s a FAB outfit! Where did you get it?”
  • “My friend’s gone missing. Can you help me find them?”


Make a record or keep your eye on the situation in case it escalates.

Actions you can take RIGHT NOW:

  1. See sexual violence as a problem that you have a role in ending
  2. Learn more about how sexual violence is complex and nuanced
  3. Commit to daily unlearning the myths and lies we are taught about rape
  4. Practice consent in everyday ways – asking for a hug, asking before taking a friend’s picture, asking someone what their pronouns are or how to pronounce their name.
  5. The second part of consent is REALLY LISTENING

Prepared by Candace Burton for Violence Prevention Grey Bruce’s Sexual Assault Prevention Month article series.

Information Credit: SACHA is a great resource to learn about simple skills and tactics that you can use in these sort of situations.

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Our shared vision is an inclusive community where all people live their lives free from all forms of violence and oppression, and have equal access to the best of what the community has to offer.

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