The Bystander Effect

The Bystander Effect

Dating violence doesn’t just affect the individuals in a couple. Rather, a community of support is necessary to help a survivor reach safety and peace. Whether you are a parent, friend or unacquainted bystander, you have the ability to become involved. Here are some dos and don’ts to consider when you’re in a situation where you can take action and interrupt a violent situation.


Don’t mind your own business.
Whether it’s the girl from your math class or a stranger you pass by on your morning run, you can stop the violence just by butting in. Addressing the violence is one way to handle the situation. Let both individuals know that what is occurring isn’t right. Reassure the mistreated partner that he or she is undeserving of these actions and inform the violent partner that this behavior is unacceptable and dangerous. If you don’t feel comfortable calling out the violent partner, you can still disrupt the situation by asking to borrow notes for class or striking up a conversation about anything.

Don’t want to get in the action? Stand away, but let the couple see that you are watching them. Get out your cell and call for help. You can still give support without physically intervening.

Do put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Dating violence is a scary and isolating experience. If you witness someone else going through dating violence and don’t know what to do, try to imagine how you would want someone to help you. Stepping in not only temporarily breaks up the violence, but offers support to the victim that he or she may not have received anywhere else.

Do treat them like a friend.
Watching a friend endure dating violence often leaves you feeling helpless and wanting to do something more to help them. You can give the same care and encouragement to someone you don’t know as you would to a friend. Ask yourself how you would feel if no one helped your friend and something horrible happened to her or him when you weren’t present. Be someone’s friend and stop the violence.

Don’t neglect your personal safety.
Your safety is always the highest priority and you won’t be able to give the best support if you are injured. If for any reason you feel unsafe, do not approach the violence. Alert an adult or call the police immediately. If you do intervene and the violence continues, step away and get help.

Have you ever stepped in to break up a violent situation between a couple? What would you say to someone who was harassing his or her partner to make them stop?

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