Ways to Help Someone and Be an Active Bystander

Preventing violence and supporting people in our community who have experienced harm is everyone's responsibility.

*Recognize a situation as potentially harmful *Decide to act *Intervene safely & effectively *Follow up as appropriate

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Helping Someone Else

When someone you know or care about experiences a form of dating/intimate partner violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking, you may experience a range of feelings, including anxiety about how best to help them. The PATH to Care Center offers tips to support someone with compassion and empathy. The following additional suggestions may help you support someone:

  • Offer support and compassion. Please thank the survivor for coming to you.
  • Please don't tell the survivor what to do. Violence can make a person feel they have lost their agency. It's important not to compound this. There is no "right" way to cope with trauma. 
  • Offer resources and information without pressure or judgment. Please don't press for details. Allow the survivor to share what they want, when they want. Try to avoid "why?" questions, which can be interpreted as blaming or skeptical. 
    • Tip: You can ask the survivor if they would like to speak with a confidential advocate at the PATH to Care Center. If they agree, please call the 24/7 urgent support Care Line at 510-643-2005 together.
  • Challenge statements of self-blame. The responsibility lies with the person who caused the harm, regardless of the survivor's actions.
  • If the survivor wants to seek medical attention or make a report, you can offer to accompany them.
  • Be patient, listen, and ask how you can help.
  • For a consultation, please contact the PATH to Care Center office at 510-642-1988. You may also consult the Gold Folder for helping students in distress.

Bystander Intervention

Have you ever been in a situation where something just did not feel right, but you were unsure how to respond? Many incidents of violence and harm occur in the presence of bystanders — people who witness an incident but are not directly involved. 

Bystander intervention is the interruption of potential harm or violence by someone who witnesses the incident. It is also referred to as being an active bystander— someone who notices the potential for harm to occur and takes action to interrupt the situation and prevent harm. Bystander intervention is also leadership and helping behavior. You are in a great position to role model helping behavior in order to make our campus safer for everyone. 

Strategies for bystander intervention

CARE Model stands for Confront the Situation; Alert Others; Redirect Attention; Engage After

Sometimes in the moment, it can be hard to know exactly how to respond. 

The CARE Model is an easy-to-remember acronym that outlines four strategies for taking action when harm or violence could occur:

  • Confront the Situation
  • Alert Others
  • Redirect Attention
  • Engage After

You can use multiple strategies for a given situation depending on your comfort level and personal style. It is important to keep your own safety in mind any time you are choosing to be an active bystander.

Bears That CARE is a program on campus that offers workshops on bystander intervention facilitated by peer educators. 

Take Care of Yourself

Witnessing or hearing about violence can be an upsetting experience. Here are some things to keep in mind when you're supporting a survivor.

  • Realize that your feelings are valid. Practice self-compassion.

  • Pay attention to your own needs - this could mean setting boundaries, taking extra time for activities you enjoy, etc.

  • If needed, seek outside resources to help you get through this difficult time: you could talk to a counselor, your community, a close friend, or hotline - just make sure that you respect the survivor's privacy.

  • The PATH to Care Center on-campus can be a resource for you if you are looking for consulation or help while supporting someone who has  experienced violence. Contact their office at 510-642-1988 to make an appointment. 

Responding As a Responsible Employee

When someone comes to you, a Responsible Employee, with a concern related to sexual violence and sexual harassment, it’s crucial that you listen, support, and offer resources. You are also expected to share what you learned with the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD). For more information and guidance, please visit the Responsible Employees page. You may also wish to consult the downloadable Responsible Employee Quick Guide.