Sexual assault and relationship abuse impact many people on college campuses. Nationally, it’s estimated that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes and that they are most vulnerable between the ages of 16 and 24. College-aged men and women also experience relationship abuse at high rates.
As a bystander, you may wonder what you can do to help.
Wildcats are Active Bystanders
Most people don’t commit sexual assault or hurt their partners. However, learning to recognize the signs when someone is in danger and stepping in to help prevent it is important. This is called being an active bystander. Active bystanders learn how to recognize and safely intervene in potentially dangerous situations. Sometimes this means distracting someone who appears to be targeting someone who is too drunk to consent. Other times, it means reaching out to UNH staff or the police for help.
Some simple steps to becoming an Active Bystander:
• Notice the situation: Be aware of your surroundings.
• Interpret it as a problem: Do I recognize that someone needs help?
• Feel responsible to act: See yourself as being part of the solution to help.
• Know what to do: Educate yourself on what to do.
• Intervene safely: Take action but be sure to keep yourself safe.
How to Intervene Safely:
• Tell another person. Being with others is a good idea when a situation looks dangerous.
• Ask a victim if he/she is okay. Provide options and a listening ear.
• Ask the person if he/she wants to leave. Make sure that he/she gets home safely.
• Call the police (911) or someone else in authority or yell for help.
• Call the SHARPP at 24/7 Support Help Line: 603-862-SAFE (7233) for support and options.
• Or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE.
What can my friends and I do to be safe?
Act as a community. Remember these tips when you are out...
Have a plan.
Talk with your friends about your plans for the night BEFORE you go out. Do you feel like drinking? Are you interested in hooking up? Where do you want to go? Having a clear plan ahead of time helps friends look after one another.
Go out together.
Go out as a group and come home as a group; never separate and never leave your friend(s) behind.
Watch out for others.
If you are walking at night with friends and notice a woman walking by herself in the same direction, ask her to join you so she doesn’t have to walk alone.
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.
Trust your instincts.
If a situation or person doesn’t seem “right” to you, trust your gut and remove yourself, if possible, from the situation.