What is a bystander?

Bystanders are individuals who witness events or situations that impact others and by their presence may have the opportunity to provide assistance, do nothing, or contribute to an ongoing behaviour. 

What is an active bystander?

An active bystander is someone who not only witnesses a situation, but takes steps to speak up or step in to keep a situation from escalating or to disrupt a problematic situation when it is safe to do so. 

An active bystander's decision-making process

Before acting, there are 4 stages needed for intervention:

1.       Notice the event 
2.       Interpret it as a problem 
3.       Feel responsible for dealing with it
4.       Possess necessary skills to act   

What intervention strategy can I use?

DIRECT Interventions

Directly address the situation 
·       The Victim – Asking them if they are OK and how you can help 

·       The Aggressor – Telling them that it’s not OK to say/ do what they’re doing (so long as it is safe) 

·       Do this as a group if you can. Be polite. Don’t aggravate the situation – remain calm and state why something has offended you. Stick to exactly what has happened, don’t exaggerate. 

DISTRACT Interventions

Distract either party – anything that distracts someone enough to discontinue the abusive behaviour. 
·       Interrupt, start a conversation with the perpetrator to allow their potential target to move away or have friends intervene. 

·       Or come up with an idea to get the victim out of the situation – tell them they need to take a call, or you need to speak to them; any excuse to get them away to safety. Alternatively, try distracting, or redirecting the situation e.g. spill a drink or ask for directions 

DELEGATE Interventions

Get help from others- If you do not feel comfortable or safe intervening, delegate the intervention to someone else

·       Tell a member of staff e.g. security, bar staff, member of the university 

·       Ask the friend of the victim or perpetrator to intervene 

DELAY Interventions

Check in after

·       If the situation is too dangerous to challenge then and there (such as there is the threat of violence or you are outnumbered), walk away. Wait for the situation to pass and then check to see if the victim is OK. Or report it when you feel safe to do so. 


It is always important to think of your own safety. It is important to remember that the only person ultimately responsible for the incident is the perpetrator themselves.


There are two ways you can tell us what happened