By Callie Wight
Nothing in this article is meant to be medical advice. Please consult your own healthcare provider.
Some info below taken from: https://wellness.uchicago.edu/page/bystander-intervention
It’s been in the news a lot. Some of you may be tired of hearing about it. But perhaps we hear so much about it because it is, in fact, such a big problem for children, women, men and even elders. It’s too soon to turn away.
Sexual assault affects not only survivors’ long-term emotional health, but their health in general. Survivors report feeling depressed and anxious, worthless and damaged, and often are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Survivors may self-medicate the enduring emotional pain with drugs and alcohol. Survivors often have higher incidence of chronic health problems, such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes and hypertension.
Sadly, much sexual assault could have been prevented if bystanders had not turned away but, instead, had intervened to prevent or stop. Some call this bystander intervention being an “upstander.”
Even without professional training, we all can help to prevent, stop or reduce sexual assault by learning simple, safe and proven-effective bystander intervention techniques.
The “bystander effect” is an odd reality where folk tend not to help in risky, especially interpersonal, situations. Instead, we ignore and walk away. One cause is simply because we don’t know what else to do.
Good news. Public-health advocates all across the globe have developed something called the “4 Ds” of bystander intervention: direct, distract, delegate, delay.
First, here are some overarching guidelines:
• Do not put yourself at risk.
• Do not make the situation worse.
• Do look for early warning signs of trouble, such as raised voices, pushing or shoving, cornering, trying to isolate a potential victim from the group and from help or witnesses, ganging up. If the potential victim is incapacitated or feeling too intimidated to help her/himself, these early signs can be solid indicators that nothing good is about to happen.
Do intervene at the earliest point possible, preventing escalation. This is the easiest moment in which to successfully change the dynamic.
Intervening does not necessarily mean confronting. Check out your options below:
• Do ask for help from others standing by. Group intervention may be safer than going solo. It is effective; the deterrent effect can be longer-lasting. It takes a village.
Do use the 4 Ds:
• Direct: Step up by stepping in to prevent or stop a problem. Remember the first guideline, though: Do not put yourself or others around you at risk.
• Delegate: There may be good reasons to not go direct. Seek help from someone with more authority to intervene.
• Distract: Interrupting the situation without directly confronting the offender. This can be fun, even: “Hey, isn’t that your car? You’re getting a ticket.” Then spirit away the victim. Be creative.
• Delay: If none of the above seems like a good idea, then check in later with the victim. See if they need help, support, or someone to talk to or assist them to get professional help, if needed.
We can all be upstanders.
Callie Wight is a California state-licensed registered nurse with a Master of Arts in psychology.