Be A Hero: Bystander Intervention Can Be A Simple Yet Courageous Act

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by ALEJANDRO REYES VEGA, CSU Public Relations Assistant

Bystander intervention is one of the simplest and most significant things you can do to protect someone. Stepping into a situation can be as simple as taking someone home after they have had too much to drink, or making sure that someone is aware that rape or assault jokes are not funny.

This week we asked some interns in the Women’s Center to talk about an event that discussed the importance of bystander intervention and what students can do.

Why you chose to do this event:

“We chose bystander intervention as our topic because it is important to be an active bystander. It is also important to remind ourselves and our peers the importance of intervening and what intervening (if not experienced yet) may look like.

“We specifically chose this topic around the time of Halloween. This is because on college campuses, and elsewhere, Halloween costumes can be used as an excuse to do sexual activities without the person’s consent. Please bear in mind that the costumes are not consent and that people have the right to wear whatever they want to and stay safe. The problem in this is the people who take what someone’s wearing as a yes without getting a free verbal and enthusiastic yes from the wearer before engaging in any sort of sexual activity. 

“Bystander intervention and primary prevention (stopping unwanted sexual activities at the source: the attacker and deconstructing the misconceptions about consent) are proven to be effective in the short term, so right away, rather than waiting.”

What the event is focused on:

“For our event, we conducted a survey that asked the students about whether or not they knew what bystander intervention was or if they had ever used it.

“Through this survey, we were able to see that most students have a basic knowledge of what bystander intervention is, but many have never used this form of primary prevention before.

“Speak Up, focused on what bystander intervention was, what it looked like in a couple different settings, why people might be hesitant to intervene/why they need to, and it gave them ideas on how to intervene and what kind of thinking process goes into planning on stepping in.”

Why bystander intervention is important:

“Bystander intervention is important because it can stop unwanted sexual activity either before it starts or break it up if it is in the midst of happening. It is important to make sure that the people around us are safe and enjoying their time.

“Nobody deserves to have any unwanted sexual advances or actions used against them and it is our job to enforce that.

What have you learned about ways that people do or do not intervene:

“People often chose not to intervene for a few reasons.

“The first being that they are in a roomful of people and hope that someone else who is more qualified will step in instead.

“However, this is not true and most likely everyone else in the room thinks the same thing. Then nobody steps in and bad things happen that could be prevented through bystander intervention.

“Next, is that people who believe in rape myths are less likely to step in or speak up.

“Rape myths are untrue ideas that are harmful to the victim or survivor. These are thoughts like ‘Well, they shouldn’t be wearing that if they don’t want that to happen,’ or ‘I mean, they are like that way so they deserve it.’  Thoughts like these are incorrect and harmful because they pose as excuses to act in unacceptable ways.”

For more information, contact or visit the Women’s Center/Violence Awareness and Response Program in CSU218.

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