Bystander Exercises


A promising approach to violence against women is Bystander Intervention Programs where the target audience as seen as potential allies to end violence against women by taking postive bystander actions.

It's time.... Scenarios and exercises from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center

The Mentors in Violence Prevention program has excellent exercises on bystander intervention--the materials are copyrighted but most of the folks on this list can come up with their own scenarios. Generally, offer a brief paragraph description of a scene that would be common in a campus setting: frat party, hanging out in a common area where folks "people watch" (and sexually harass others), and so on.

Create the scene so that it's from the POV of the reader:
You are at a date function at XYZ fraternity. Everyone seems to be having a good time until you see a friend talking to a girl in a way that concerns you. Your friend is holding her by the wrist and she seems to be pulling away. Your friend won't let go. She's laughing, but it appears to be out of nervousness rather than enjoyment. Although you can't hear what's being said, you think that he may be trying to push her into hooking up. You can see that both people are pretty drunk. What can you do?

MVP adds in what you, the witness, might be thinking, although I'm not sure it works all that well. (Comment from Claire N. Kaplan, Sexual and Domestic Violence Services UVA Women's Center)

At this point, ask the audience, what are your options here? And just let them brainstorm. Have your own list handy. Be ready to redirect comments about "I'd punch his lights out" into non-violent interventions.

What's nice about this is that people learn that they actually have the tools to intervene, but they are not sure it's OK or if there will be negative repercussions. This workshop gives them permission to step up, and helps them see that they may actually share the same feelings as others, that they aren't alone in their concerns.