You are going about your day like any other when suddenly out of nowhere you notice something is wrong. You see someone in distress. It could be on a bus, on the road, at work, in a bar or even at home. You didn’t expect it, so now what? Panic and run? Feel a deep sense of helplessness? Or work out an assumption that relieves you of your responsibility? We at Curley Street are proposing to be prepared.
The concept is called Bystander Intervention (BI). It might sound like a mouthful but it essentially means learning what your options are as a bystander and then using your knowledge to intervene. Examples of these situations are quite varied, ranging from witnessing someone being sexually harassed on the street, to a colleague making a racist remark, to a loved one acknowledging signs of depression or distress. In all of these situations, we’re confronted with the ambiguity of “what next?”
At Curley Street, we make films and noise about the uncomfortable, the awkward and the complex. Which is why this September, we are running a social media campaign on Bystander Intervention (BI) titled #HowWillWeRespond. BI is a violence prevention strategy that equips the community with information on how to respond when you witness a person in distress. If you witness a situation where it feels like something is wrong or unusual, notice the event and think about options that are within your personal power to respond. Essentially Bystander Intervention is saying:
It is also important to note what BI is not. It is not about putting yourself in harm’s way or about confronting an aggressor directly about their behaviour. While this could be one of the options you choose to take, bystander intervention provides several indirect and safer ways of interrupting a problematic situation. One must remember that the concept is situational. The objective is not to change the aggressor’s thoughts/actions or solve the situation from start to finish, but more so to interrupt the moment. It is essential that bystanders intervene in a way that is safe. They must be comfortable in order to want to continue to intervene. Clinical psychologist Dr Divya Kannan breaks this down for us – When, how and why should we intervene?
The objective of #HowWillWeRespond is to get people to think about what they can do in the moment of truth if they are a bystander. We have published videos, interviews with experts and mixed media on our social media channels to raise awareness and start a conversation. We are also collaborating with HowRevealing.com – a website that offers a safe space to share stories of sexual violence and bystander intervention. If you or someone you know has positively intervened, share your story on www.howrevealing.com.
You can also find us on Instagram here.