Valley Trauma Center

Bystander Intervention

February 17, 2015

Woman Hits Man

What is Bystander Intervention?

A bystander is someone that sees a situation where the people involved could use some help.  The bystander must then decide if they are comfortable interrupting and offering help.

The Tough Part about Intervening

  • Thinking someone will do something: If several people are seeing the situation, someone is less likely to intervene because he/she believes someone else will
  • Safety
  • Not sure how to help
  • Fear of losing friendships, revenge and/or being wrong

5 Steps for Effective Bystander Intervention

  1. Notice the event:  It's easy to miss something you're not looking for.  People are busy, distracted, and sometimes don't want to notice.  Pay attention to what is going on around you and always have an exit plan if necessary.
  2. See it as a problem:  Is it a problem?  Is it not?  It can be hard to determine if someone is in need of help.  Be cautious and investigate if needed.
  3. Assume personal responsibility:  Don't pass the responsibility.  Voice your intentions, you are more likely to help that way.  Engage others - I'll do A and you do B.
  4. Know how to help:  Never put yourself in danger but if you can do something be prepared-have a game plan in place for certain situations.  It's harder to think clearly when suddenly put into a difficult situation.
  5. Take action!

Tips for Intervening

  • Approach everyone as a friend
  • Do not be aggressive
  • Trust your gut
  • Be supportive and non-judgemental
  • Avoid using violence
  • Be honest and direct whenever possible
  • Recruit help if necessary
  • Keep yourself safe
  • If things get out of hand or become too serious, call the police


"In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." - Martin Luther King Jr.