We witness violence, observe the conditions needed to perpetuate violence in situations around us, or hear the presence of violence in conversations with our friends and co-workers. Depending on various factors from comfort level to an analysis of how much time it will take, we make the choice whether or not to intervene. In these situations, Baylor encourages you to do something.
Bystander intervention is the philosophy that as members of the Baylor community you possess the ability to care for others in your immediate environment just as you care for others in your capacity as a medical provider or medical scientist. This care extends to those we know as well as strangers who may be in potentially harmful situations and are unable to help themselves. You can do something by speaking up or stepping in to the situation. Both of these actions take courage, however in many cases you may find that your choice to do something encourages those around you to do something as well.
Simple Steps to Becoming an Active Bystander
- Notice the situation and trust your instincts. If a situation or person doesn’t seem “right” to you, trust your gut.
- Tell another person. Being with others is a good idea to help you engage in the situation and maintain your safety.
- Diffuse situations. If you see a friend coming on too strong to someone who may be too drunk to make a consensual decision, interrupt, distract or redirect the situation. If you are too embarrassed or shy to speak out, get someone else to step in.
- Ask the person you are worried about if he/she is okay. If necessary, provide options for leaving the situation.
- Call the police (911).
How to Support Someone Impacted by Sexual Harassment, Sexual Violence or Intimate Partner Violence
- Assume that what she/he tells you did happen. According to the FBI, only two percent of all crimes reported are false reports.
- Be a patient and active listener.
- Do not press for details.
- Offer comfort, but do not touch the survivor unless invited to do so.
- Reassure her/him that what happened is NOT okay and that she/he is not at fault nor alone.
- Allow the survivor to take CONTROL. Do not make decisions for her/him. Offer information regarding available resources. Remind the survivor that she/he has options.
- Offer support. Remember that you are not serving in the role of a therapist; however, the survivor may need your continued support.
- Find information if you do not know the answers. It’s okay not to be the expert, but be sure to help the survivor find someone who is.
- Educate yourself about sexual violence. Seek information and utilize the resources available before an incident is shared with you.
- Know Baylor’s policy and procedures for reporting sexual harassment and sexual violence.
There are many resources at Baylor College of Medicine, throughout Houston and across the country to help individuals dealing with sexual harassment and sexual violence. Find the resources you need.