Bystander Intervention

As a bystander, you have extraordinary power to defuse a situation before it becomes unwanted sexual attention or an assault.

  • Pay attention: Be alert to things that make you feel uncomfortable. In particular, look out for signs of sexual pressure, unwanted attention or disrespect, extreme drunkenness, or signs of fear and confusion. Keep an eye on anything that doesn't seem quite right. Don't ignore the "little" things.
  • Decide: Should someone intervene? Is the situation heading in a bad direction? Does someone need help? If you can, check in with the person you are aiming to help - but, if you can't, trust your instincts.
  • Make a plan: Fit your intervention to the situation. Who's in the best position to act? Call on friends, allies, hosts, bartenders, bouncers, authority figures - or do something yourself. When's the best moment? Now? Later? Do you need time to plan or to organize others? Be creative and strategic. Sometimes a disapproving look can make someone change his or her inappropriate actions.
  • Make it happen: Follow your plan and be ready to get help if you need it. Look for allies and be alert for others trying to help too. Start with the smallest possible intervention. Act even if you feel awkward or nervous but always err on the side of safety.


  • De-escalate. Be calm and respectful. Shift the focus away from the problem. Try to get yourself or your friend to a different location if verbal de-escalation doesn't work.
  • Offer help. Signal your concern and willingness to act. It's OK if you are turned down at first.. Simply offering to help can change the dynamics.
  • Step in. Call a cab or personally make sure that a friend who has had too much to drink gets home safely.
  • Disrupt the situation. Small interventions can be the most effective. Intrude. Make a joke. Change the topic. Spill something. Be a third wheel.
  • Above all - Be safe. If you think you are in danger, step back and get help.

See for more bystander intervention ideas.

Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault Misconduct: Building a Climate of Safety and Respect at Yale. Guide_PreventingandRespondingtoSexualMisconduct.pdf



Risk reduction tips
Bystander intervention
What men can do
Printable posters to display

Make Your Move is an effort from Missoula's Intervention in Action Project, a group of community organizations dedicated to ending sexual violence.

for more bystander intervention ideas.