Be an Active Bystander

Sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking impact many people on college campuses. Nationally, it’s estimated that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes and that they are most vulnerable between the ages of 16 and 24. College aged women and men also experience relationship abuse at high rates. As an friend or peer, you may wonder what you can do to help.


First, most people don’t commit sexual assault or hurt their partners. Celebrating that is one part of the solution. Another important part is learning to recognize the signs that someone is in danger and stepping in to prevent it. This is called being an active bystander.

Active Bystanders

Active bystanders learn how to recognize and safely intervene in potentially dangerous situations. Sometimes this means distracting someone who appears to be targeting someone who is too drunk to consent. Other times, it means reaching out to Kent State staff or the police for help.  The Green Dot strategy at Kent State provides additional information and training to students, faculty and staff around being an active bystander.

Simple steps to becoming an Active Bystander
  • Notice the situation: Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Interpret it as a problem: Do I recognize that someone needs help?
  • Feel responsible to act: See yourself as being part of the solution to help.
  • Know what to do: Educate yourself on what to do.
  • Intervene safely: Take action but be sure to keep yourself safe.

How to Intervene Safely
  • Tell another person. Being with others is a good idea when a situation looks dangerous.
  • Ask the person harmed if they are okay. Provide options and a listening ear.
  • Ask the person if they want to leave and then make sure that they get home safely.
  • Call the police (911) or someone else in authority or yell for help.
  • Call the SRVSS Office for support and options at 330.672.8016
  • Or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE.

Adapted from the Bringing in the Bystander (2010) program, University of New Hampshire.