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Be a Hero! Be an Upstander not a Bystander

September 7, 2016

No matter who we are, any one of us can find ourselves in the position of being a bystander when a potentially dangerous situation is about to go down. It can happen to us as a friend, as a roommate, an acquaintance or even as a stranger.

Bystander Intervention is a really important form of sexual violence prevention. YOU have the power to speak up and say, “Hey, that’s not OK.” YOU have the power to step in if you see something sketchy happening. YOU have the power to become an UPstander.

It can be scary though. Lots of us want to do our part to stop sexual assault before it happens but we aren’t always sure how to do it.

Here at Catharsiswe like to break it down with the 4 D’s – Direct, Distract, Delegate and Delay – based on the research of Victoria Banyard and Alan Berkowitz:

Direct – Step in and directly intervene. You don’t have to be aggressive or antagonistic about it, but your goal is to separate the potential perpetrator and their target.


“Hey, that’s not OK!”

“Do you need help?”

“Are your friends here? I can help you find them.”


Distract – Divert the attention of a potential perpetrator to give the potential victim a chance to leave safely.


“I think I lost my phone, can you help me look for it really quick?”

“You look familiar – are you friends with my roommate Jake?”

“I think someone is looking for you in the kitchen.”


Delegate – Enlist the aid of others, including an authority figure if that’s the safest option.


“Will you come check on Megan with me? I think I saw her go outside with some guy.”

Ask a bouncer or a bartender to check in on a situation.

Call campus security or 911.


Delay – Check in with the victim to see if you can help in some way after the fact.


“Is everything OK? Do you need me to help?”

“Do you want me to go with you to the police station?”

“I’m sorry this happened to you.”

Remember, there is an entire culture that enables sexual assault and predatory behavior. It often makes survivors feel powerless. By being an UPstander and remembering the 4 D’s you can help change the mindset that enables sexual violence both on campus and off.

We have a really fabulous handbook for bystander intervention called “Not On My Watch,” created for Catharsis Productions by cartoonist Isabella Rotman. If you’d like a copy, like us on Facebook and Twitter and private message us to get a free copy.  

Catharsis Productions

Catharsis Productions' mission is to change the world by producing innovative, accessible and 
research-supported programming that challenges oppressive attitudes and shifts behavior.