Letter to the Editor

Promoting Engaged Bystander Behavior

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You think you saw something, but you aren't sure. You could be wrong; maybe it was nothing. So you let it go and you walk away. The next day you hear the news.

Someone desperately needed your help, but you didn't realize it. It wasn't your friend. But it was someone else's loved one. And they needed you to step in and prevent a sexual assault.

You, as a bystander, have the opportunity to act and safely change the outcome-- to prevent an assault by stepping in when you see something that doesn't look right. Maybe you saw someone slip something into a drink. Maybe you witnessed a friend taking advantage of someone who has had too much to drink. Maybe someone grabbed your friend's butt as she walked by. Studies have shown that college-age women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group. That makes college-age bystanders like you critical in preventing sexual assault.

Sure, in a society that promotes a 'mind your own business' message, speaking up is difficult. Try to approach the situation as a friend and trust your gut. If you see something that doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. If you think someone is in trouble, ask if they are okay. Be honest and direct in explaining your concerns and reasons for intervening. If you don't feel comfortable approaching a situation on your own, ask--a friend, a resident director, anyone-- for help.

You aren't wrecking someone's fun or being a jerk if you speak up. You are watching out for someone's brother, sister, girlfriend, or boyfriend. Next time, it could be your loved one that someone helps out.

You're standing up for what is right.

For more information contact CAASA at 877-362-4612.


Rachel Partello

Dickinson/ Emmet County Coordinator

Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault (CAASA)

(712) 336-1255