A bystander is someone who watches something occurring, such as a conflict or violent behavior, but takes no action to stop it. There are oftentimes many bystanders, causing the “bystander effect” — a psychological effect that occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation (Psychology Today).You may have been in a situation before where you were a bystander who wanted to act, but didn’t know how to intervene appropriately and safely. This post serves to give you tips as to how to go from bystander to “active bystander.”
Before getting involved in a situation, it is always important to keep in mind your safety, as well as the victim’s safety. Never get involved in a situation that could put yourself at risk — if this is the case, call the police.
If you are comfortable that you and the victim will not be in danger if you intervene, these are a few ways you can help (particularly in cases of dating abuse) according to New York State:
Speak out — If you notice a friend disrespecting their significant other, speak out and say something. Try asking your friend why they treat their significant other in such a way and voice your disapproval.
Respond as a group — If you want to approach a friend about their disrespectful behavior, doing so in a group can be helpful.
Create a distraction — If you notice someone being abusive, create a distraction by asking the abuser for directions, standing nearby and pretending to talk on the phone, or even spilling your drink.
No matter what, always remember that you can call the police if things start to get out of hand.
How can I keep myself safe?
It is important to know how to intervene when you aren’t the victim, but it is equally important that you know how to keep yourself safe to avoid becoming a victim. Check out some of these posts to see safety tips for different situations: