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Be an Active Bystander
Help Prevent Sexual Misconduct

What is a Bystander?

Bystanders are the largest group of people involved in sexual misconduct and violence – bystanders greatly outnumber both the perpetrators and the victims. Bystanders have a range of involvement in assaults. Some know that a specific assault is happening or will happen. Some see an assault or potential assault in progress. Regardless of how close to the assault they are, bystanders have the power to stop assaults from occurring and to get help for people who have been victimized.

Take the example of the typical perpetrator of college sexual assaults. Many perpetrators are outwardly charming, have a lot of friends, and don't consider their actions to be wrong. People (bystanders) who know this person or are friends with this person, often do not want people they care about to date or hang around this person. Bystanders often know that this person’s behavior is inappropriate and potentially illegal, but may not know what they can do to make a difference.

We have all been bystanders in our lives, and we will all be in situations where we are bystanders in the future. The choice, then, becomes whether we are going to be active bystanders who speak up and say something, or whether we will be passive bystanders who stand by and say nothing.

The College is not advocating that people risk their own safety in order to be an active bystander. Remember, there is a range of actions that are appropriate, depending on the situation. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, calling 911 is the best action a bystander can take.

As opposed to being the bystander who stands by and does nothing, WCC wants to create a culture of bystanders who are actively engaged in the prevention of sexual misconduct and violence.

The Power of Bystanders

If we see something we'll say something

Have you ever stopped a friend from going home with someone when the friend was drunk or high? Have you ever tried to stop a friend/teammate/peer from taking advantage of someone or doing something else inappropriate? Both of these actions are examples of bystanders using their power to stop sexual misconduct and violence.

What else can bystanders do to make a difference?

  • Believe someone who discloses a sexual assault, abusive relationship, or experience with stalking or cyberstalking.
  • Be respectful of yourself and others. Make sure any sexual act is OK with your partner if you initiate.
  • Watch out for your friends and fellow students – if you see someone who looks like they are in trouble, ask if they are okay. If you see a friend doing something shady, say something.
  • Speak up – if someone says something offensive, derogatory, or abusive, let them know that behavior is wrong and you don’t want to be around it. Don’t laugh at racist, sexist, homophobic jokes. Challenge your peers to be respectful.
  • Get involved – volunteer with a community organization that spreads awareness on safety issues.

Be More than a Bystander

The Bystander Intervention Playbook

Need more tips for intervening in a potential situation? Here are some easy to use suggestions and strategies. (Adapted from Men Can Stop Rape, 2006)

"I" statements
Three parts: 1.State your feelings, 2.Name the behavior, 3.State how you want the person to respond. This focuses on your feelings rather than criticizing the other person.
Example: "I feel … when you ... please don’t do that anymore."

Silent Glance
Remember, you don’t have to speak to communicate. Sometimes a disapproving look can be far more powerful than words.

Reduces the tension of an intervention and makes it easier for the person to hear you. Do not undermine what you say with too much humor. Funny doesn’t mean unimportant.

Group Intervention
There is safety and power in numbers. Best used with someone who has a clear pattern of inappropriate behavior where many examples can be presented as evidence of his/her problem.

Bring it Home
Prevents someone from distancing himself from the impact of his actions. Example: “I hope no one ever talks about you like that.” Prevents someone from dehumanizing his targets. Example: What if someone said your girlfriend deserved to be raped or called your mother a whore?”

We’re friends, right….?
Reframes the intervention as caring and non-critical. Example: “Hey Chad…..as your friend I’ve gotta tell you that getting a girl drunk to have sex with her isn’t cool, and could get you in a lot of trouble. Don’t do it.”

Snaps someone out of their “sexist comfort zone.” Example: Ask a man harassing a woman on the street for directions or the time. Allows a potential target to move away and/or to have other friends intervene.

Myths about Sexual Misconduct

Myths are beliefs that are culturally formulated, socially transmitted, and factually unfounded. Myths about sexual assault and other sexual misconduct deny the violent, hostile, and demeaning nature of these crimes and often shift the blame from the abuser to the victim.

Myth: Sexual assault results from an uncontrollable, impulsive, sexual urge of biological origin. Fact: Sexual assault is motivated by hostility, power, and control. Clinical studies of offenders find that sexual assaults are not motivated by a biological desire. Unlike animals, humans are capable of controlling how they choose to act on or express sexual urges.

Myth: Sexual assault happens to women who "ask for it" by dressing provocatively. Fact: Sexual assault is not the result of the way a person dresses or acts. It is the assailant who decides to assault another person.

Myth: When a woman says "no" she means "maybe" or "yes". Fact: When a woman says "no," she means NO. Sexual intercourse without consent is rape. A person has the right to control her/his own body.

Myth: Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers. Fact: Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.

Myth: Spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, and partners cannot sexually assault each other. Fact: Spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, and partners can and do sexually assault each other. Being in a relationship or marriage does not give either partner the right to have sex without their partner's consent.

Reporting Options
If there is an immediate danger, call 911.

The College recommends that you report any incident of sexual misconduct as soon as possible. Reporting options include:

Campus Safety and Security
Office: 2nd floor of the parking structure.
Telephone: 734-973-3411 (x3411 from an on campus telephone)
Campus Safety and Security staff can also assist if you wish to file a report with local law enforcement.

Ombudsman Office
Office: SC275 – check in at the Student Resources counter, 2nd floor of the Student Center Building
Telephone: 734-973-3328
Email: ombudsman@wccnet.edu

Anonymous or Online Reporting
You can file a Report by filling the Concern form online or go to the WCC home page and select the link, Report a Concern.

Title IX Coordinator
The VP of Student and Academic Services is the College’s Title IX Coordinator.
Office: SC 247
Telephone: 734-973-3536

Victims of sexual assault and friends or relatives of victims are encouraged to review what to do after a sexual assault occurs.

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