Select Page
Who Are Bystanders?

Bystanders are people who witness or see a specific action or event, but aren’t the direct actors in that event.

You are a potential bystander. Everyone is a potential bystander. This includes your friends, your classmates, your family, CA’s, acquaintances, on-lookers, random passers-by, your great aunt Muriel, the president of the chess club, the captain of the swimming team, and pretty much everyone else in the world.

There are different types of bystanders. A bystander may choose to ignore the situation (i.e. passive bystanders), engage in the situation in a way that stops it (i.e. active bystanders), or engage in the situation in a way that exacerbates the situation (i.e. participants).

What is Bystander Intervention?

Bystander intervention, or being an active bystander, is part of being a member of the UW Oshkosh community. We all have an important role in preventing violence when we are confronted with problematic situations.  Being an active bystander can include:

  • Speaking out against statements, attitudes, or behavior that may perpetuate a culture endorsing violence as acceptable or inevitable
  • Naming and stopping situations that could lead to a sexual assault
  • Stepping in during a high-risk incident, whether by disruption, distraction, speaking up, or even calling for help so others can step in.
  • Supporting and believing others when they feel uncomfortable or hurt
  • Helping others respond to problematic situations

The goals of bystander intervention are manifold. While bystanders must ultimately be equipped with skills to be effective and supportive allies before a sexual assault ever takes place, bystanders must also be taught when to intervene and why, as a member of the UW Oshkosh community, we all have a responsibility to derail and interrupt violence and violence-condoning attitudes on campus.

A typical bystander…

A typical bystander…

Goes through 5 stages when determining whether or not to act:

1.     Notice the situation

2.     Interpret the situation as requiring intervention

3.     Assume responsibility for intervening

4.     Know how to effectively help/Decide how best to help

5.     Actually intervene in the situation

Being an active bystander does not mean that you should risk your personal safety, or that you need to become a vigilante. There are a range of actions that are appropriate, depending on you and the risky situation at hand. Remember, if you are ever worried for the immediate safety of yourself or others, you can decide to leave the situation and seek outside help – that’s still bystander intervention!

The Ideal Bystander...

The Ideal Bystander…

  • Approaches everyone as a friend.
  • Is honest and direct whenever possible.
  • Tries to de-escalate the situation before it is a crisis.
  • Avoids using violence as a means of intervention.
  • Refrains from antagonizing or accusatory actions when possible.
  • Asks for help from others present when needed.
  • Knows when to call for professional assistance (EMTs, Police, CAs).