What Can Bystanders Do?
There are many things men and women can do to help prevent sexual violence.
If you see someone in danger of being assaulted:
- Step in and offer assistance. Ask if the person needs help. NOTE: Before stepping in, make sure to evaluate the risk. If it means putting yourself in danger, call 911 instead.
- Don’t leave. If you remain at the scene and are a witness, the perpetrator is less likely to do anything.
- If you know the perpetrator, tell the person you do not approve of their actions. Ask the person to leave the potential victim alone.
Be an ally:
- When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other frequently and leave together.
- Have a buddy system. Don’t be afraid to let a friend know if you are worried about her/his safety.
- If you see someone who is intoxicated, offer to call a cab.
If someone you know has been assaulted:
- Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
- Be patient. Remember, it will take your friend some time to deal with the crime.
- Help to empower your friend or family member. Sexual assault is a crime that takes away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your friend or family member to do things that they are not ready to do yet.
- Encourage your friend to report the rape to law enforcement (call 911 in most areas). If your friend has questions about the criminal justice process, talking with someone on the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE can help.
- Let your friend know that professional help is available through the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.
- If your friend is willing to seek medical attention or report the assault, offer to accompany them wherever they need to go (hospital, police station, campus security, etc.)
- Encourage him or her to contact one of the hotlines, but realize that only your friend can make the decision to get help.
- By speaking out and educating ourselves and others, we can help to decrease the number of sexual assaults.
- Become knowledgeable about the issue and share your knowledge with others. Start by signing up for RAINN’s monthly newsletter.
- Volunteer for RAINN or your local rape crisis center and help educate your community about preventing sexual violence.