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Bystander Intervention

Questions to Ask

Basic Bystander Tips

Notice something is happening.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings and follow your instincts if something doesn’t seem right.
    1. This includes things on social media and over email.
  2. Ask questions if you think people look uncomfortable in a situation.

Figure out if what is happing is a problem.

  1. Ask questions and gather information as needed to decide if there is a problem occurring or not.

Assume personal responsibility.

  1. Understand that if you don’t stand up for someone you think is in trouble, no one else might either.
  2. Take action even if no one else is, but this doesn’t have to be you stepping in alone because there are direct and indirect ways to help (see some of these in the Scenario sections).

Understand how to help.

  1. Get trained on different topics so that you are more prepared to handle issues if they arise.
  2. Know who you can go to so you have the best answers.
  3. There are direct and indirect of helping people in trouble. You can use either or a mix of both to help (see some of these in the Scenario sections).

Help someone who needs it.

  1. Regardless of how you take action, it just matters that you DO.

Scenarios for Site Supervisors

A co-worker keeps asking out your student intern/extern. The intern/extern is not interested in dating the coworker and the co-worker isn’t taking a hint when the student tries to dissuade them.

You need to keep your employees from making your student feel unsafe, here are some ways you can do that:

  1. Have a one on one conversation with your employee and talk about how their behavior is unacceptable. Make sure you explain why their behavior is misconduct as well because they may not understand what they are doing is wrong.
  2. Move the office space of your employee or your student to one where the student and this employee have minimal interaction. This doesn’t mean to isolate one or the other, but more to give them an option for breathing room.
  3. Talk to the student about what they may like to do to get out of the situation and tell them the options they have for reporting. Let them know you are supportive of whatever decision they make, but that you want this experience to be positive for them.

You are very attracted to one of your interns/externs. You are determined to at least find out if the feeling is reciprocated.

You need to focus on what a good experience for the student is.

  1. Regardless of your own feelings, the student earned this internship/externship and has the right to complete this work. Do not interfere in their educational experience.
  2. It is never okay to put a student in a power dynamic where they may feel pressure do something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Remember that they may not reciprocate feelings honestly, but feel pressured to do so because you are their supervisor. Don’t put them or yourself in a situation like this.

Your work area is a back office operation that’s pretty hectic. People swear at each other, call each other names, and make catcalls and comments at each other. Most of the workers participate, but a few seem uncomfortable.

You need to think about what kind of impact this has. Here are some ways to make this environment more professional:

  1. Set expectations and ground rules for the office that have real consequences.
  2. Model good behavior for your employees.
  3. Have conversations with employees often to make sure that everything in the office is comfortable and that they feel safe working there.
  4. Don’t be afraid to let employees know that their behavior is unacceptable.
  5. Create a professional development opportunity where employees learn about what a good workplace looks like and how to implement that.

Scenarios for Students/Co-Workers

Your boss has suggested, but not in so many words, that if you two were to develop a relationship outside of work, benefits would come your way. You are not interested in the relationship, but worry that there will be repercussions if you don’t do what they ask.

You need to take care of yourself. Here are some ways you can:

  1. You can report it to someone else on site.
  2. Report the incident on your campus using web resources.
  3. Talk to someone you feel comfortable with at the internship/externship to ask for help.
  4. Go to the human resources department.
  5. Call hotlines or use web links to get assistance elsewhere.

You NEVER have to enter a relationship like this if you don’t want to.

Another co-worker touched you inappropriately and you were so surprised by the advance that you didn’t say anything in the moment. You have a meeting with your boss the next day.

Choose how you want to handle the situation. Here are some options:

  1. You can report it to your employer.
  2. You can file a report on site or at your campus.
  3. You can confront the employee and let them know their behavior was unacceptable.

You just started work and have noticed that your co-workers frequently make inappropriate jokes that make you feel uncomfortable. You have noticed that another co-worker feels uncomfortable as well and have decided to talk to them about it. However, the two of you have not been around long and are afraid you won’t fit in if you say something to anyone else.

Here are some ways to voice your concerns:

  1. Confront your co-workers when something makes you uneasy in the moment.
  2. Have one on one conversations with your co-workers over lunch or at a time where you can have a conversation about the environment.
  3. Go to your employer and explain to them why the environment makes you feel uncomfortable.
    1. This can be through an email, face to face, in a note, a phone call, whichever way you can best convey yourself and your needs. Understand that face to face follow up will be necessary eventually, but if confronting it initially is hard you can use other methods like those listed above.

Workplace Harassment Informational Video

MCADSV is not a direct service provider.
For immediate help call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
© Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, All rights reserved.

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