Be an Upstander, not a Bystander

Everyone has a role to play in preventing sexual violence and domestic abuse. One of the most important and effective ways is to prevent harm coming to another person is to look out for each other’s safety and be a responsible upstander.

An upstander is someone who steps in to give the person they’re concerned about a chance to get to a safe place or leave the situation. You don’t have to be a hero or even stand out from the crowd to make a big difference in someone’s life.

Some of the most common reasons individuals don’t intervene when they see a potentially harmful situation unfolding is because they don’t know what to do, think it’s not their business, or they think someone else will step in. Many times that is not true. Upstanders have the power to save someone’s life, reshape the culture, and create change in their communities.

Examples of common situations where upstanders should step in:

  • Someone makes a rape joke or joke that is demeaning toward others.
  • A person is groping someone who does not want it.
  • A person is sexually harassing someone.
  • A friend is drunk and asks for a ride home.

Methods for upstanders to intervene:

  • Call 911.
  • Create a distraction.
  • Move to a more public space.
  • Enlist others’ help.
  • Educate friends on respect.

Personal safety is most important when choosing to intervene in a situation or not. When in doubt, call an authority, such as security, the police, or an ambulance.