Bystander Intervention

What is a Bystander?


A bystander is someone who witnesses emergencies, criminal events, negative behavior, or situations where someone could potentially be hurt. Bystanders have the opportunity to provide assistance, do nothing, or contribute to the negative behavior.

What is a Bearcat Bystander?

A Bearcat Bystander is someone who decides to act in a positive way when they witness something negative. Bearcat Bystanders help build a culture of respect at UC and look out for their fellow Bearcats.

Although bystander intervention can help in many types of negative situations, here at UC our Bearcat Bystander Training is specifically meant to give students the knowledge, skills, and confidence to be able to intervene when they see gender-based violence (which includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking).

Bearcat Bystander Tips

Be Direct:

Confront the person who is causing the harm or potential harm. Speak up. Address the issue head-on.


Diffuse the situation by changing the subject. Create a diversion. Address the issue after things have cooled down.


Ask someone else to help you intervene. Create a plan with others. Act together.

Know your resources:

Call for help in the moment. Guide people to support resources if harm has already been done. Know you are not alone.

It's on all of us to stop gender-based violence in our community. Being a Bearcat Bystander is one way to step up and say "Not on my campus!"

Your safety is paramount when intervening. Do not put yourself in danger. When you are far away from the violence, in location or time, and you are with others that is the safest time to intervene. If you are close to the violence and are alone that is least safe. Consider all of your options before intervening to make sure you remain safe.

Sample Situations

You are studying at the library with your friend Trevor and his new boyfriend, Paul. Every time Trevor asks a question or makes a comment, Paul calls him "stupid" and uses other put-downs to embarrass him. Paul looks at you, expecting you to laugh along. Trevor gets quiet and looks embarrassed. Actually, you've noticed that Trevor has become more withdrawn and insecure since he started dating Paul. You suspect that the constant ridicule and name-calling are affecting his self-esteem. What do you do?

Possible Bearcat Bystander Interventions

  • Be Direct: Confront Paul about his behavior and tell him it is not cool to treat Trevor like that.
  • Distract: Change the subject quickly and check in with Trevor after Paul leaves.
  • Delegate: If you think Paul would dismiss you, tell someone Paul respects about the behavior and see if they are willing to help you intervene.
  • Know your Resources: Trevor might want to talk to someone about what is going on. Providing him with some resources and supporting his decisions is one way to be a supportive friend.

You and your friends are in TUC when you all receive a crime alert from UC Public Safety. Someone reported a sexual assault, it happened on campus, and the person knew who assaulted them. One of your friends says, "She was probably asking for it if she knew the guy. Girls can be such flirts." Your other friends nod in agreement. What do you do?

Possible Bearcat Bystander Interventions

  • Be Direct: Tell your friend they are victim blaming and that no one deserves to be treated like that.
  • Distract: Change the subject by pointing something else out in the room. Confront your friend after the rest of the group leaves, they might be more open to a conversation when you are just one-on-one.
  • Delegate: Text someone else in the group and ask them to help back you up if you say something.
  • Know your Resources: Maybe you have experienced sexual violence and your friend's comment is very hurtful. If that is the case, don’t feel that you need to confront that person. Seek out support from a confidential resource and they can help you process your feelings about your friend's comment.

It's your friend Megan's birthday and a group of friends want to take her out! She has already had a few drinks and is acting pretty drunk; she couldn't keep her balance the last time she went to stand up. Someone in the group starts pouring shots for her that she didn't ask for. What do you do?

Possible Bearcat Bystander Interventions

  • Be Direct: Tell your friends Megan should take a break.
  • Distract/Disrupt: Tell your friends you'll get the shots and pour Megan a water shot on the sly. If your friends already have the shots in hand, do something clumsy and spill them. Be creative!
  • Delegate: Ask someone to call Megan a ride home while you distract the rest of the group.
  • Know your Resources: If Megan lives close, consider calling Night Ride to get her home. To learn more about Night Ride visit the UC Public Safety's website. If the situation escalates and you think Megan might have alcohol poisoning, know that UC has a medical amnesty policy for people who call for help and those who need help. You can learn more about the medical amnesty policy by reading the Student Code of Conduct on the Student Conduct & Community Standards webiste.

Know Your Resources

Confidential (No obligation to report)

513-556-4418 (9am-5pm M-F) - Steger Student Life Center Room 559
For after-hours support call the Women Helping Women 24/7 helpline at 513-381-5610

24-hour line: 513-556-0648
225 Calhoun Street, Suite 200
Cincinnati, OH 45219

(M-F 9am-5pm, Sun-Th 6pm-10pm)
Serving LGBTQ Communities

To Report - Non Confidential

3115 Edwards 1 (45 Corry Blvd)

Crime Victim Services Coordinator

3 Edwards Center (51 W Corry Blvd.)

3 Edwards Center (51 West Corry Blvd.)