Bystander Intervention

What is an Active Bystander? 

As members of the SUNY Geneseo campus community, we encourage you to be active bystanders. This means you pay attention if it seems like someone needs help and you are willing to step in and provide that help, whether or not the person is a friend or someone you know.  Notice when someone looks to be uncomfortable, scared or unsafe. By intervening, you could stop or prevent an act of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking or relationship violence. Being an active bystander is one of the ways that you can create a climate on this campus that is free of sexual harassment and interpersonal violence. 

Remember the 3 Ds of Bystander Intervention 

Direct. Be direct. Step in by calling out the behavior or asking if someone is okay. "Do you need help?" "Are you okay?" "Is this person bothering you?" 

Distract. Create a diversion to interrupt the situation. "Can you show me where the bathroom is?" "There you are! I've been looking everywhere for you. Let's go." 

Delegate. Recruit others to help with the situation. Power in numbers can be extremely effective. "Something seems wrong over there, let's say something." 

Your safety is most important. If there seems to be an emergency or someone is in immediate danger, call University Police (585) 245-5222 or 911. 

Other Tips for Bystanders 

  • Educate yourself about issues of interpersonal violence and sexual misconduct and share this information with your friends.
  • Talk to your friends openly and honestly about issues of interpersonal violence and sexual assault.
  • Never accept or tolerate excuses for abusive behavior.
  • Call out discriminatory comments and jokes that perpetuate racism, sexism and homophobia. 
  • Don't doubt your gut feeling that something may be wrong. Trust your instincts.  
  • Notice and pay close attention to your friends who may have had too much to drink or taken drugs and help them get home safely.
  • Avoid using violence and call the police if the situation escalates and does become violent.
  • Never place blame on the victim. 

For more information about Bystander Intervention, check out this NSVRC Tip Sheet