In 1/3 of instances of sexual assault there are bystanders leading up to the event, putting them in an important position to intervene and potentially prevent an assault.
In our everyday lives, we see and hear those around us creating a culture that condones sexualized violence through jokes, a refusal to believe victims, and excuses made for those who are violent, like saying that “he’s such a good guy” or “he only gets like this when he’s drinking”.
Bystanders do make a difference. Every time we speak up, we change the conversation and raise the bar to create a new normal. Sexualized assault is not ok. Your actions, no matter how small, can make a difference.
How can you Take Action and Speak Out?
Stand Up for Victims
If someone says they have experienced sexualized violence, listen, believe them and take their side. It’s that simple. Don’t question how much they had to drink or what they wore - none of that excuses someone committing an act of sexualized violence.
Cause a Distraction
If you see a women being made uncomfortable, create a distraction to help her get away. Ask the perpetrator a question to create a diversion, or bump into them. If you know the woman who is being targeted, start a conversation with her or call her cell to give her an out.
Set the Tone with your Friends
Refuse to tell or laugh at sexist jokes AND speak up to a friend who behaves in a sexist way. Complacence can be misconstrued as acceptance. Jokes or comments that minimize the importance of sexualized assault are unfortunately common in our communities. We still live in an age where men make rape jokes, harass women and excuse their words as “locker room talk” with little to no consequences. If your friends make a sexist joke, don’t just ignore it - voice your disapproval out loud so they don’t confuse your silence with approval.
Raise boys to be great men
If you have sons, you play an essential role in how they will act when they grow up. Take every opportunity you can to role model great behaviours and to have conversations with them about consent, the role they play, and gender equality.
There is safety in numbers! Rally your friends to intervene as a group. Act like you know the target and invite them to join you. Help create distance between the target and the perpetrator.