Bystander & Community Information

Drexel encourages individuals affected by sexual violence to speak out and access the resources they need. In this video, members of the Drexel community talk about concrete steps every Dragon can take to prevent incidents of sexual violence from occurring in the first place. Every Dragon is entitled to feel safe and welcome, and it's on us to make that happen.

Not a bystander: Bystander intervention to prevent sexual assault.

In this video, members of the Drexel community talk about concrete steps every Dragon can take to prevent incidents of sexual violence from occurring in the first place. Every Dragon is entitled to feel safe and welcome, and it’s on us to make that happen.

What Is Bystander Intervention?

Bystander Intervention is a prevention model that recognizes the social dynamics of sexual violence and misconduct, and the opportunities that are frequently present for certain individuals to act in a manner that addresses or prevents misconduct before it occurs.  Bystanders are individuals who witness sexual violence or misconduct (or situations that could lead to sexual violence or misconduct), and whose presence may present an opportunity to either provide assistance, do nothing, or even contribute to the negative behavior.  Pro-social Bystanders are individuals who act to intervene in ways that produce positive outcomes.

Research shows that various factors can influence an individual’s decision to intervene in a given sequence of events. Bystander Intervention programs educate students so that they are able to identify troubling situations as they develop, overcome the various obstacles to intervention that may exist in a given situation, and identify strategies for safely and effectively intervening when trouble arises.

Bystander Intervention at Drexel and the University’s Culture of Care

The University expects all community members to take reasonable and prudent actions to prevent or stop an act of sexual violence or sexual misconduct. Taking action may include direct intervention, calling law enforcement, or seeking assistance from a person in authority. Community members who choose to become prosocial bystanders will be supported by the University and protected from retaliation.

Drexel University's Bystander Intervention Program is designed to:

  • Help individual’s to understand the concept of bystander intervention
  • Identify the spectrum of appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Develop empathy for those who have experienced sexual violence or misconduct
  • Help community members to understand their role in bystander intervention and encourage commitment to intervene in incidents of sexual violence or misconduct before, during, and after the occur
  • Identify barriers to bystander intervention and techniques to overcome them in real-life situations
  • Develop skills to enable community members to function as prosocial bystanders

Tips for Pro-social Intervention

Effective Intervention Requires a Five-step Decision-making Process:

  1. Notice the event.
  2. Interpret the event as a problem.
  3. Assume personal responsibility for intervening.
  4. Identify a safe and appropriate method for intervention.
  5. Use acquired skills to effectively intervene.

Rules for Effective Bystander Intervention:

  • DO NOT intervene in a way that puts yourself or others at risk of physical harm.
  • DO NOT intervene in a way that escalates the situation or makes it worse — use direct confrontation only if other methods of intervention are not appropriate under the circumstances.
  • DO look for early warning signs of trouble.
  • DO intervene at the earliest point possible.
  • DO ask for help from other bystanders or responsible persons (such as Police or Public Safety).
  • DO remember that effective intervention does not always require dramatic action — even small gestures or comments can have a large impact on the outcome of a troubling situation (before and/or after the fact).

Bystander Intervention Techniques (the Four Ds):

  1. Distract: Interrupt the situation without directly confronting the parties involved. Example: stepping in to ask questions that can divert a person’s attention and shift their behavior toward less risky situations (getting something to eat, talking about work or classes, etc.)
  2. Delay: Check in on potentially troubling situations when you are not sure if the situation is unsafe or you do not feel safe immediately intervening. Example: asking a person if they are okay, or inviting them to go to the bathroom with you so you can talk to them to assess what is happening. 
  3. Delegate: Identify other bystanders who can assist you in safely intervening. Example: asking a friend to help intervene by distracting one of the parties while you distract the other.
  4. Direct: Intervene directly to make the parties aware that there is a problem and it has been noticed. Example: telling a potential offender, “Hey, she doesn’t look like she is sober enough to go upstairs,” or “I don’t think they’re into that. Why don’t you give them some space?”

Remember: An effective intervention is one that puts SAFETY FIRST.