Bystander Intervention

Session One 

Introducing the Bystander

We will be learning and working together as a group in this programme

Some of the material we will be discussing will be sensitive and some of us will have had personal experience of the things we discuss

We will all be respectful of personal emotions as we learn

Please be aware that we will be talking about sensitive issues and issues that might have affected you or people you care about. If you feel uncomfortable or upset it is fine to leave the space. Facilitators will understand and are trained to help you. 

Who is a Bystander?

Not involved in the event (not a victim or perpetrator)

Witnesses a situation

It’s a lovely sunny day and you are sitting by the river on your own, no one else is around. Suddenly you hear splashing and screaming for help. A person is caught in the current and drowning.

You are the bystander. There is no mobile phone signal. You can swim. There is a life ring on the riverbank.

What do you do?

(Adapted from Crapser, B. G., & Stewart, A. L. (2014). Men's Project: Sexual assault prevention program for college men program manual. Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut,pp.26-27)

A bystander can intervene to stop events before they happen or while they are happening i.e. a bystander can prevent the potential outcome as well as deal with an outcome.

Active or Pro-social Bystander 


Passive Bystander   (Does Nothing)

Have you...

…ever been in a situation where you have been a bystander and something problematic has happened?

Did you……

Intervene? (active/pro-social)

Not intervene? (passive)

What factors are at play in


Non Intervention? 

The Bystander Effect

What is an Intervention?

Intervention comes in many different forms e.g.

Body language signalling disapproval



Facebook post

Choosing not to laugh at a joke

Being supportive to friends

It’s not all about confrontation!

4 Stages for Intervention

Reasons for Non Intervention

1. Social influence/ identity 

2. Audience inhibition 

3. Diffusion of responsibility 

4. Fear of retaliation 

5. Pluralistic ignorance

Only intervene when it is safe for you to do so.

If not safe, in an emergency, dial 999

This programme is specifically about bystander intervention in sexual violence and domestic violence.

Evidence shows that

77% students have experienced sexual harassment

(Cambridge 2014 p.6)

28.5% students experienced sexual assault

(Cambridge 2014 p.6)

85% experienced a negative impact on their mental health

(Cambridge 2014 p.6)

Key Points

Domestic abuse, sexual coercion and rape in student populations are a serious and widespread problem

Anyone can experience the trauma of being in an abusive relationship or situation and anyone can be an abuser. However…

The majority of harm is experienced by women and the majority of people who do the harming are men.


This doesn’t mean that ‘most men’ or ‘all men’ are offenders or that ‘no women’ are offenders!  

How does the following make you feel?

Research indicates that:

“Prevention messages can be heard by some….as defining all men as perpetrators only and women only as victims” 

(Powell 2011)

Intervention - Domestic Violence

Read through the role play in groups. 

Designate a character to people in the group and discuss how you may personally act in that situation. 

Violence is Everybody's Problem

It has an impact on victims, our friends and loved ones

Costs our society estimated £23 billion a year. 

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Bystander Intervention Session 1

by sutraining


Public - 6/28/16, 8:28 AM