Bystander Intervention

Alan Berkowitz asserts in his research that 80% of college age men are uncomfortable when women are belittled or mistreated. They do not express their discomfort because they believe they are the only ones who are uncomfortable. Bystander intervention better equips men to express their discomfort. This strategy provides community members with the awareness, skills, and ability to challenge social norms in their community that support sexual assault. It is a tactic that meshes well with the social ecological model because bystander goals and outcomes can be developed and supported at the different levels.

MCSR uses the following six step schema in its bystander training, “Gut Check,” to better prepare men to intervene:

  • STEP ONE: Notice Events. Social norms often reinforce the normality of sexism and sexual assault so that they escape notice. Therefore, the first step is to notice when someone is crossing a line.
  • STEP TWO: Identify Events as Problems. If we understand the potential impact that a sexual assault can have on a survivor and the survivor’s friends, family, and co-workers, we will see someone crossing the line as a problem requiring action.
  • STEP THREE: Feel Motivated to and Capable of Finding a Solution. Many times men feel stuck in situations where they might intervene. Providing them with frameworks like primary prevention, dominant/counter stories of masculinity, and bystander intervention can motivate them to become unstuck.
  • STEP FOUR: Acquire Skills for Action. This key step underlines the necessity in helping men to develop strategies leading to effective action. MCSR works with men to develop an intervention toolkit.
  • STEP FIVE: Act. The first four steps are very important, but they only have an effect if an emphasis is placed on action. Men need to remember and use the strategies in the toolkit.
  • STEP SIX: Evaluate and Revise. After having intervened, men should consider what worked well, what did not, and what they might do differently the next time an opportunity arises.