Deciding to take action in situations is not easy, and we often have the thought, “it’s not my problem” but even if it isn’t directly your problem a person is being hurt by another person and that is a problem. Bystander intervention is not about getting in a perpetrators face and putting yourself in danger, it is about understanding the safe way to help someone in need.

Let’s review the four D’s of Bystander Intervention: direct, distract, delegate, and delay. Speak directly to the person doing the bad thing or to the target of the behavior. Create a distraction, a way out for the target. Get another person. Check on the target later. The four D’s are different ways to intervene, first, assess the situation and then decide which action to take.

Using the four D’s, here are some real-life situations and what you can do to be an active bystander. (Situations used from No More campaign)


1: You’re at a party or out drinking. Someone nearby has had a lot to drink and is being harassed or manipulated by someone you think may do something physically harmful to them.

  • Assess the situation. This is important! If you do not feel safe, get another person involved immediately.
  • If you feel safe you can speak directly to the potential perpetrator.
  • You can speak directly to the target, and see if they need help.
  • You can create a distraction for the potential perpetrator, so the potential victim can get away. This can be simply by striking up a conversation to divert their attention.
  • You can get others to help you whether it is a friend, the bartender, or the bouncer/party host.
  • You can keep an eye on the situation, and check in with the target later.

“Don’t leave. By remaining present as a witness, the potential perpetrator is less likely to act.”

2: You wake up in the middle of the night hearing screaming, crying, yelling and banging a neighbor’s house, apartment or from a dorm room.

  • This is an unsafe situation. Call 9-1-1 and report what you hear. If you are not comfortable identifying yourself, you don’t have to but making the call could impact someone’s life.
  • If you find a time when it is safe to talk to the target, offer your phone or computer to help connect them with resources that can help them. Advocates at The Shelter are available 24/7.


Intervening may not be easy, but it could save a life. Visit: to read about more situations and how you can become an active bystander. Also, check out our other blogs about bystander intervention.

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