An Empowered Bystander is someone who helps create a safer community by utilizing a wide range of behaviors, including standing up and speaking out, when they witness situations that could potentially threaten the health and safety of others. Empowered Bystanders actively promote a culture of safety.
Be an Empowered Bystander.
- Notice behavior that constitutes verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Name it when you see it.
- Think critically about mainstream messages around gender, sex, and violence, and challenge them.
- Create a safe environment inclusive of all gender identities and sexual orientations.
- Respect peoples' physical space, even in casual situations.
- Define your own identity, and do not let stereotypes shape your actions.
- Hold perpetrators accountable for sexual assault rather than asking victims to prove they were assaulted.
- Join a student or community group working to end sexual violence.
Microaggression refers to the commonplace prejudice experienced if your race, gender, ethnicity, religion, economic class, nationality, language, ability level, or body type is marginalized. Whether microaggression is intentional or not, it is experienced as a put down. Even though it can be difficult to pinpoint microaggression, it is important to identify it, and recognize that it is unacceptable. Microaggression is powerful and insidious, and can be as harmful as overt aggression.
Speak Up if you Notice Someone:
- Perpetuate myths about sexual violence
- Use objectifying or degrading language
- Blame the victim
- Say someone is being too sensitive to the microaggression
- Objectify another's body
- Glamorize sexual violence
- Tell sexually explicit jokes at the expense of another
- Make derogatory comments about sexual orientation or gender identity
- Refuse to take rape accusations seriously.
What to Do If Something Feels Wrong:
- Notice the behavior, and if you are comfortable, ask for it to stop in a respectful manner.
- Protect the target of the abusive behavior if you can, ask the person if they are okay or want you to call for help.
- State the behavior you want to see (e.g. this is a "no put down" zone).
- Set limits and follow through with them (e.g. "Do not tell rape jokes in my presence anymore; if you do I will leave.")
- Do not accept minimizing, deflection, blaming the target, or excuses.
- If someone has just been sexually assaulted help them get to a safe place and access care.
- Report it: Sexual violence of any kind is a violation of The New School Sexual Assault Policy and is against New York State Law.
- If you feel unsafe approaching those directly involved, don’t. Pausing to assess your safety and the situation is often the best course of action.
People who witness verbally or physically coercive or violent situations sometimes decide not to act in response to it. This happens for many reasons: We may think that it isn’t our responsibility or our business, that someone else who “knows what to do” will step in, or that the aggression will subside without our intervention. It is important not to judge the reasons why individuals choose not to intervene and instead prepare in advance how to respond if faced with such a situation. Silence and inaction may only add to the problem.
Take care of your friends. If you are out with friends, watch out for them. Encourage your friends to keep watch over their own drinks and not share them or drink from common containers. Check in with your group periodically.