We live in a world where sexual and domestic violence occurs all too often. There are many actions we can each take in our lives that will hold perpetrators accountable and will help keep potential victims safe.
A bystander is someone who witnesses a situation or event, but does not take part in it. We all need to be active bystanders, which means that we step in when we see harm happening.
Violence exists along a continuum.
- For sexual violence, the continuum starts at cat-calling or making unwanted sexual comments, and goes to rape.
- For domestic violence, the continuum starts from one partner being overly jealous (texting or calling the other partner all the time), and goes to assault and battery.
Between these points, there are many opportunities to be an active bystander:
- Call out your buddy if he or she uses sexist or derogatory comments towards someone. Let him or her know you don’t think that is okay.
- If you see a woman at a party or club who appears drunk or out of it, check in with her to make sure she is with friends and has a safe ride home.
- If your friend is texting her boyfriend too much or getting angry when he doesn’t respond right away, talk to her about healthy boundaries.
- If you hear fighting happening somewhere, call the police. It’s not up to you to decide whether it is “no big deal.” It is safer for police to intervene.
- If a friend tells a homophobic joke or says “that’s so gay,” let them know that isn’t cool.
- If a co-worker confides in you that her partner hit her, believe her and let her know you support her. Ask if she wants help getting in touch with resources or give her the domestic violence hotline number: 800-228-7395.
More actions we can take in our community:
- Encourage your local middle and high school to include sexual and domestic violence prevention information in their health education curriculum.
- If you see sexist or homophobic content in local media or other public spaces, talk to someone about removing it or addressing it.
- Talk within your faith community about how to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable.
- Ask your school or local youth club to host a parents’ night with information about how parents can support the youth in their lives.
- Connect with local domestic and sexual violence services and ask if you can volunteer or help them in any way.
No one alone can end domestic and sexual violence, but everyone can do something. Working together we can make a difference!