Understanding Bystander Intervention And How You Can Save a Life


“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Albert Einstein

Gone are the days when someone witnesses a domestic dispute and turns the other way to “mind their business.” And, thankfully, so are the days when we were taught to yell “fire” instead of “rape” because no one wants to intervene on a sexual assault. Historically, society has turned a blind eye to misdeeds for fear of getting involved, violating other's privacy, or pure ignorance. But never more.

How many times over the last few decades have we heard “if anyone would have just done something, anything, this tragedy could have been avoided.”? Now is the time to BE the change. All too often people say, “I didn’t do anything because I didn’t know what to do.” In today’s post, we will help you understand what bystander intervention is and what you can do to help save a life.

Bystander Intervention

Bystander intervention is simply when an uninvolved third party intervenes to mitigate a potentially dangerous situation. The situations we are talking about here include harassment and bullying, preventing sexual assault or perpetration of violence, and even preventing someone from driving drunk.

Research suggests that there are many reasons why people have failed to do something. One big reason is the diffusion of responsibility, or the idea that in a social setting, that someone else is responsible for helping; someone else knows them and will stop it; someone else will call the authorities. In fact, a popular murder in New York City that was witnessed by more than 38 people was not reported to authorities for almost a half hour after the event because everyone who had witnessed it assumed someone else had already reported it. She died en route to the hospital from wounds that she could have survived if intervention had taken place sooner.

Another common reason other people don’t intervene is fear. Many people fear confrontation and are nervous that they may be misunderstanding the situation. Additionally, people fear that violence may be turned toward them instead., better them than me.

How You Can Help

Bystander intervention does not require you to take grandiose heroic actions and swing onto the set like Batman — or, rather Cat Woman. Doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing.

“When you are silent, you choose the side of the oppressor.” Desmond Tutu

See something, say something.

Trust your gut, and if you see something that seems wrong, take action. If you see an intoxicated bar mate and the guy who is trying to take her home, you don’t have to be confrontational, you have several options in this instance. Alert the bouncer, make a scene, or simply pretend this girl is your friend and rush over to talk to her. Even if she doesn’t respond as you had hoped, the man now knows someone saw them and this may be enough to make him drop it.

Get help.

If you feel helpless or don’t know what to do, get someone else involved. Alert another bystander, call the authorities. Do what you have to do to get some assistance to mitigate the potential danger, without putting yourself into danger.

Arm yourself.

Make yourself feel more confident and ready to react when you arm yourself with a personal protective device. Perhaps a concealable stun gun or a folding knife. This way you know that you can be prepared if the situation escalates and you aren’t putting yourself in danger when you choose to react.

Be the light in the dark for a potential victim. Refuse to be an innocent bystander and step up to help those in need. Because one day, it might be you who needs someone to step up and help. At Code Black security, we believe that all women deserve to feel safe, and we want to arm everyone. After all, preparation is protection. If you are ready to arm yourself to help protect yourself and anyone else, shop our entire line of self-defense weapons for women.

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