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Gender Violence Prevention and Education

Active Bystander

When someone interrupts a problematic or potentially harmful situation, stopping action or comments that promote sexual or discriminatory violence, bullying, harassment, intimidation, or threatening behavior - they are being an active bystander. An active bystander also takes action when they see someone who is intoxicated and in need of help or may even be in emotional distress. Being an active bystander is about challenging and changing the cultural norms that make problematic or harmful behavior acceptable.

At DU, we intervene when we see a community member in need of support or when a situation does not fit our values. Intervention is not one size fits all. You can select an intervention style that works for you:

  • Direct: you feel comfortable acting as the primary helper
  • Distract: you create a distraction or other interruption to halt the potentially harmful situation
  • Delegate to a trusted resource: you request assistance from a qualified resource such as Campus Safety, Denver Police, Title IX, or Student Outreach & Support
  • Delay your intervention for when addressing the behavior is more appropriate: you may not feel comfortable saying something in the moment, so you follow up with the person within 24 hours to address things like harmful jokes, comments, or catcalling. Note that you should not delay when responding to a high risk situation like intoxication or sexual assault.

Sometimes we need help - we can intervene on our own behalf. In a situation that is uncomfortable, or is close to crossing a limit or boundary, you can select an intervention style that works for you and fits the situation. Remember, your own safety is primary. And whether or not you intervene for yourself, you deserve help and support. Someone crossing a boundary is never your fault.

  • Direct: say you are feeling uncomfortable, or that a line has been crossed.
  • Distract: come up with a quick distraction, like a phone call or having to use the restroom, to get out of the situation.
  • Delegate: text, reach out to, or otherwise signal to friends that you'd like some assistance.
  • Delay: if appropriate, follow up with the person within 48 hours to talk about what happened. Let them know how their actions impacted you, and re-state your boundary.

If you'd like to learn more, you can attend a workshop and build your active bystander skills. You can also request a workshop if you think your team, club, class, organization, or department would benefit from learning more. Submit a request here! Intervene: DU and all GVPE programs are available to all DU community members.

Please note that all incoming, first year students are required to attend an Intervene: DU training, and returning students who are in Registered Student Organizations must attend a booster workshop annually. Learn more about the requirement and how to sign up here.