Being an upstander:
Stopping relationship and sexual violence is a team effort. Knowing how to step-in during an emergency or knowing how to talk to someone in an abusive relationship is a great skill that can help put violence to an end.
The Bystander Effect:
The bystander effect (or diffusion of responsibility) is the tested idea that when more people are present at an emergency, the chances that somebody will intervene to help actually decrease. This means, that if we see something and think, "somebody else will handle it," odds are, nobody will. It's up to YOU to step-in and do something!
SOURCE: PSYCHOLOGY TODAY & ALBERT TEST PREP
Intervening on Sexual Harassment & Assault:
It can be intimidating stepping-in to a situation where someone might be getting sexually harassed or assaulted. Try using some of these tools and tips to be a safe and effective bystander!
Remember the bystander effect. Don't assume someone else will intervene. If you feel uncomfortable approaching the situation yourself or alone, enlist the help of someone else.
Intervene as early as possible. Abusers tend to "test the waters" with small gestures like catcalling, hugs, putting their arms around someone's waist, etc. Intervening then is a lot easier than intervening when things have escalated.
Use the acronym "CARE" (see below) to give you some ideas of how to intervene:
Learn more about the bystander effect, here.
Talking to a Friend or Family Member About Relationship Violence:
Sometimes a friend or family member discloses to us the abuse they've been experiencing, but other times we notice before they do. If you have a friend who hasn't admitted they're in an unhealthy or abusive relationship:
Point out unhealthy behaviors in their relationship gently and with concern. Say things like, "I want you to know that I love you and care about you and will always support you. I noticed that you're partner sometimes can get really jealous. How does that make you feel?"
Your friend or family member may be in denial about the abuse or not recognize it yet when you bring it up to them. Continue to bring up those behaviors when you notice them, but avoid being overbearing or making them feel judged.
If you feel your friend or family member is in danger of physical or sexual harm, but they are still in denial about their relationship, give them resources that they can call.
Learn the signs of a healthy relationship and an unhealthy relationship.
If they do disclose to you that they are in an unhealthy relationship:
What you can do if someone you know is experiencing violence:
Be patient. It takes survivors an average of 7 times to fully leave an abusive partner.
Keep the ball in the survivor's court. Give them the power to make decisions (even if they're not the decision that you would make).
Take care of yourself! Vicarious trauma is real. Set boundaries and engage when you have the emotional capacity to do so.
Call an advocate (like the ones at Helping Hands)! We're here to offer guidance and can help support both survivors and their loved ones.
Learn more about violence and how we can prevent it in our everyday lives (see resources below).
Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims to find safety and live lives free of abuse. Callers can expect highly trained, experienced advocates to offer compassionate support, crisis intervention information, educational services and referral services in more than 200 languages.
Text: LOVEIS to 22522
Loveisrespect’s purpose is to engage, educate and empower young people to prevent and end abusive relationships.
Text: START to 678678
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN provides online chat services as well as the national sexual assault hotline (note that the RAINN hotline will direct you to your nearest sexual assault center, such as Helping Hands).
Childhelp's goal is to meet the physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs of abused, neglected and at-risk children. Childhelp focuses its efforts on prevention, intervention, treatment, and community outreach.
Helping Hands--a non-profit in Hood River, Oregon--supports all survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and/or stalking through safety, shelter, advocacy, education, and outreach. Call us if you have questions, need guidance for yourself or a friend, or just need someone to listen.