The Power of Bystander Intervention: You Can Make a Difference!
The Power of Bystander Intervention: You Can Make a Difference!

With the increase of sexual assault awareness and prevention on college campuses you might have heard the term bystander intervention. We can all step in to prevent sexual assault and keep each other safe in other situations. With alcohol consumption you can keep people out of harm's way. In regards to sexual assault, you can prevent a friend from experiencing the psychological scars that occur from such attacks or you can prevent a friend from having charges pressed against them.

So what does bystander intervention look like? First of all, if everyone is wasted at a party, who can look out for one another? As alcohol floods the brain, people lose their ability to hone in on social cues and they lose their instincts. It can start with designating people who will pledge to be spotters for the evening. They are not going to drink.

These spotters should step in when people are drinking too much and tell that person that it's time to switch to water, or they should take the keys away from someone so they will not harm themselves or innocent people on the road. They should not leave someone alone who is drunk. People can wander off and get hurt, or pass out and choke on their vomit, or die from alcohol poisoning. If a person is really disruptive or getting violent they should be escorted out and taken to safe place.

What is the connection of alcohol to sexual assault? In 80 to 90 percent of the cases one or both of the people are under the influence. There are certain things to look for at a party that indicates something is headed in the wrong direction. First of all, the number one weapon of a sexual offender is alcohol. If you see someone who is feeding another person drinks to get them plastered, step in.

How many times have you have been at a party and you see someone who is wasted and another person is checking them out, almost preying on them? Eventually that person leads the wasted individual out of the room. Now what are most of the people thinking? They're getting lucky! We need to look at this differently; that person's so wasted, they can't give consent! You want to break this up; it takes a little finesse. Gather a few people together and advise them of the situation. Then divide and conquer. A couple people are going to go over to the potential perpetrator well before the victim is led out. They should strike up a casual conversation for the sake of distracting him. Meanwhile the rest of the group will go over to the potential victim and take her to a safe place.

Read your friends' body language. You might see someone who is cornered by another individual. You can tell by the look on their face that they are not comfortable or happy to be there. Go over to them and use that little white lie, "You know what? I have been meaning to tell you something, all day but I keep forgetting." Grab them by the hand and rescue them.

If you see a friend leading a drunken person out of the room, go to them and tell them that it is not cool. Let them know that they are setting themselves up for accusations of an incapacitated sexual assault. They might thank you later!

Peer mediation and intervention is powerful and effective. It has been noted that students respond better to their peers than they do to adults. There are certain character traits that could send up a red flag that a person might be a potential sexual offender. You want to call them out on their behavior! Here is a list of some of those traits:

They treat people like sexual objects, "Hey baby, looking good today!" They brag about how many people they've had sex with. They purposefully feed someone drinks. They invade someone's personal body space, immediately touching them. They accuse a person of being uptight or prudish. They look distracted and don't pay attention to the person they're talking to. Look for upperclassmen who are trying to get the freshmen girls to a party. They're often set up to have sex.

If you observe any of these behaviors talk to that person and express your concerns for them. Tell them that you don't want them to get into a life-altering situation. Tell them that it's not right; we need to have the integrity to do the right thing and not harm others.

Go to parties together, stay together, and leave together. Keep an eye out for one another and keep each other safe. You have created a family on your campus; you owe this to your friends!

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