Preventing sexual assault with bystander intervention

  • Published
  • By Donna Casey
  • Goodfellow Sexual Assault Response Program Manager
Over the last few weeks we have been discussing what a bystander is and the importance of recognizing signs to look for to be a good bystander. Now, let's talk about how to intervene to help prevent sexual assault on Goodfellow.

The first step to intervention is assessing the situation. Is it safe for me to intervene? Will intervening put me or someone else in danger? If the answers to these questions are yes, stop and call 911. If the answer is no and you can safely intervene, use the following tips and techniques to help defuse the situation.


▪ Approach everyone as a friend.

▪ Avoid using violence.

▪ Be honest and direct.


▪ Indirect: Say someone observing the situation is concerned about the person's conduct.

▪ Distraction: Utilize creative options to distract the people involved to de-escalate the situation. This may involve humor or appealing to other interests of the people involved. Try telling the person you need to talk him.

▪Split: Step in and separate the two people. Voice your concerns. Let them know you're acting in their best interest.

▪ Consensus gathering: Get other people involved to help the person in trouble, and to gather strength in numbers.

▪ Friends: Find the person's friends and get them to intervene.

▪ Chain of Command: Report what you observed "up the chain" and seek guidance on how to respond.

Intervening can be difficult and uncomfortable, but we need you to be an active bystander and help protect Team Goodfellow members from sexual assault. If you witness sexual inappropriateness, sexual aggression or unsafe situations, whether in a work or social environment watch out for the warning the signs, use the techniques explained over the last couple of weeks and engage in the situation. Remember, stand up for something even if you're standing alone.