Bystander Intervention Basics

Bystander Intervention
To use Saahas, you do not have to be a survivor of gender-based violence. Saahas is an app that equips you to be a positive, action-oriented and supportive by-stander in the event of sexual violence, and in helping a survivor take steps towards seeking help when they need it. Here is a simple guide to keep in mind around what it takes to be a positive by-stander.

What is a bystander?
A bystander is any individual who is present around when something happens – but is not directly involved in the event itself.

What is a bystander in a case of sexual assault?
Sometimes, a bystander may be present when sexual assault or abuse occurs, or, witnesses some of the circumstances or incidents that lead up to its occurrence. Or, they may be around when the person who has faced a case of sexual assault or abuse narrates, or actively seeks help around its occurrence.

Why does being a positive or active bystander matter?
There are several people who are vulnerable to, have faced, are facing or are under threat of facing sexual violence across the world. Sometimes, this is apparent – say in cases such as street harassment that takes place in public view. Bystanders can play a pivotal role by intervening at the right time, to either prevent an assault if it hasn’t already happened, or, to support a survivor after an incident has happened. It is important to play an active role in recognizing the roles of bystanders, oftentimes because the lack of timely intervention has resulted in grave consequences.

What is bystander intervention?
Bystander intervention typically refers to an individual / group of bystanders who are not connected directly with an incident, take steps to change the outcome of a given situation – by intervening. It could be anything from stepping in physically to shouting out to distract an offender, or to calling the police or an ambulance at the right time. It could also involve taking active steps to protect an individual, or to help the individual report the crime that took place.

Why should bystanders intervene?
Abetment by inaction is many a time the reason why crimes are committed. To ensure that our vigilance makes a difference, it isn’t enough to merely remain vigilant, but is also necessary to act on that vigilance. It’s not always easy to step into a situation even if you know that it is the right thing to do Sometimes, bystanders don’t intervene because they don’t know what to do, or don’t want to attract danger to themselves, or simply assume that it is not their business. While it is okay to think this way, it is important to understand that every effort goes a long way and makes a difference. Bystanders have a major role in preventing crimes, be it sexual assault or theft, especially because they can be the first responders on the frontlines, and in many instances, are the only ones around and available to respond to a situation.


The contents of this app are provided as an information guide only. They are intended to enhance public access to information about resources available to survivors of gender-based violence. While every effort is made in preparing material for publication, no responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of the Red Elephant Foundation for any errors, omissions or misleading statements on these pages or any site to which these pages are connected. Every effort is made to ensure the reliability of listed sites, but this cannot be taken as an endorsement of these sites. For documents and software available from this platform, The Red Elephant Foundation does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed.

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