Bystander Intervention

If you are in a position where you believe relationship violence, sexual misconduct or stalking is about to occur or is occurring, there are things you can do to help stop the violence. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States, suggests you remember the word “CARE” as a way to remember steps you can take in a sexual violence situation.

C – Create a distraction. Interrupt the conversation or setting with a simple question such as “Hey, can you tell me where is the bathroom?” Or walk up and physically position yourself next to the potential victim and start talking --  “How are you guys doing tonight?” Other times, you can create a distraction by calling other people into a room. For example, “Come get some more food, friends!” 

A – Ask the potential victim directly if help is needed. You can do this by asking the potential victim, “Do you need help?” or “Do you want me to give you a ride home now?”  Make it clear to the aggressor through your body language that you’re not planning on going anywhere and that they will have to deal with you as well as the potential victim if the situation continues.

R – Refer to an authority.  Call for residence hall advisor’s help. Call the police. Call 911.  If you can’t stop a sexual violent situation from happening with the two steps above, or if you feel in danger taking either of the two steps above, call for help.

E – Enlist others. You may want support to take the “C” or “A” actions of CARE. Ask for it and then collaboratively work the situation. Or, you may be able to enlist the help of an acquaintance of the potential victim or aggressor who you can ask to step in and take action. 

Your actions matter
Whether or not you were able to change the outcome, by stepping in you are helping to change the way people think about their role in preventing sexual assault/violence. If you suspect that someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are steps you can take to support that person.

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or chat online at

Source: Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)