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Image by Hannah Busing

Ways to

YOU can stop violence…

just by speaking up!

Have you ever heard the term “bystander effect”?

The bystander effect is a social phenomenon that points out that the more people are present during some kind of crisis, the less likely anyone is to offer help to the victim. There are a lot of variables that play into this, but one of the biggest ones is that everyone seems to think someone else will do something about it.

If you see or know that someone is being violent, don’t assume someone else will call the police or step in. Not only are you able to prevent or stop the situation, but when you ignore violence, it can leave the victim feeling even more hopeless.

I once worked with a woman here who was slapped by her ex-boyfriend walking down the sidewalk in a busy area of town. When she got out her phone to call for help, he took it from her and smashed it, as onlookers watched. As she ran, crying, down the street, she passed cars with their windows down and other people walking down the sidewalk. No one stopped to ask if she was okay. No one called the police.

She told me she has never felt so scared and helpless in her life, and all it would have taken was one quick phone call from a bystander to make all the difference in the world.

If you seem someone being bullied, harassed, or abused, try some of these ways to intervene:

  • Use an “I statement”:
    “I feel ___ when you ___. Please don’t do it again”

  • Distraction:
    Ask a man harassing someone on the street for the time or directions.

  • Bring it Home:
    “What if someone said your girlfriend deserved to be raped because of what she was wearing?”

  • Be Blunt:
    If you see someone doing something shady, say something! “Getting a girl drunk to have sex with her isn’t cool, and it can get you in a lot of trouble. Don’t do that.”

  • Watch Out for Your Friends:
    If your friend is being bothered by someone or looks like they’re in trouble, ask if they are okay or offer to take them home.

  • Respect:
    Always be respectful of yourself and other. Believe us, it sends a message.

  • Believe:
    If a friend or family member discloses domestic or sexual assault, believe them. Help them find resources like Wild Iris.

  • Call:
    If speaking up doesn’t work, or if it too dangerous to speak up, call 911 or the Wild Iris hotline.

The main thing is to do something.

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