Are you an Empowered Bystander?

We are called as members of the Catholic University community to look out for each other.

If you see someone in a risky situation, there are many different ways to step in and make a difference. This is known as "bystander intervention." How you intervene can vary based on the situation and your comfort level. Having this knowledge on hand can give you the confidence to take action when your gut tells you something isn't right. Stepping in can make all the difference, but you should never put your own safety at risk.

Here are three different strategies you can use to step up and take action:


If you are comfortable you can directly approach either or both parties involved. Let them know your concerns and why you are intervening. Not sure if a friend is in trouble? Just ask! Send a text or step in and say, "Are you OK right now?"


Sometimes you may not feel that you are the best person to directly intervene in a situation. Maybe you do not know the person, do not feel safe, or just feel someone else would be more effective. That is OK. Find friends of either party and encourage them to intervene. If you feel the situation is too serious for you to get involved or you are simply unsure, call the Department of Public Safety or find a Resident Assistant.


Use a distraction to divert attention and redirect the focus somewhere else. A distraction can give the person at risk the chance to get to a safe place. You can diffuse the situation without directly confronting anyone. Step in and change the subject, tell your friend you need to talk to him or her, or commit a party foul.

Interested in learning more?

The Office of the Dean of Students and PEERS offer a variety of Empowered Bystander workshops and trainings. To view the workshop offerings or to create a custom program to suit your needs, click here.