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Bystander Intervention

One of the ways to achieve a safe, healthy campus where everyone can thrive is through bystander intervention . Being an active bystander means recognizing potentially harmful situations and choosing to respond in a way that could positively influence the outcome.

We can intervene when we:

  • see harmful behaviors including, signs of relationship violence, sexual assault or stalking and acts of discrimination or harassment
  • hear harmful speech that promotes victim-blaming, sexism, racism homophobia or ableism

By interrupting harmful behaviors or conversations, we show people around us that we are a community that cares for one another and that we do not condone these forms of violence.

How to Intervene

There are many different ways to intervene. Choose a strategy that feels most comfortable and safe for the situation.


Directly address the person who is causing harm or the person who is being harmed.


  • Ask “What do you mean by that?” when someone tells a sexist joke
  • Ask someone “Do you need anything?” or “Can I help you call a ride home?”


Ask others for help or delegate tasks to them.


  • Ask professors, resident assistants or any University staff or faculty to help
  • File a CARE report when you feel concerned about someone’s safety
  • Enlist the help of a friend of the person you’re concerned about


Deescalate the situation by creating a distraction.


  • Pretend you know someone from class and ask them for notes.
  • Drop or spill something to draw people’s attention.


If safety is a concern, you can check in with the person being harmed at a time when it is safer to do so.


  • Ask questions like “How can I support you?” or “Would it be okay if I share some resources with you?”
  • You can offer to accompany them to a support center or their next destination, “Would you like me to walk with you to the Gender Equity Center or University Health Services?” or “Would it feel helpful if I walk with you to your next class?”

Learn More

Want to learn more about how the Gender Equity Center and Boise State University is committed to violence prevention? Want to support violence prevention efforts on campus? Reach out to for more information!