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How You Can Intervene in a Risky Situation


650 Building through intervention

Throughout September, Kappa Deltas will be celebrating all the ways female friendships are special and powerful. Our friendships with other women provide us with our biggest supporters, people to challenge us to be our best selves and partners in making some of our best memories. And that’s just the beginning!

Our friendships with women also build our confidence. When someone is in your corner, you feel like you can take on anything. Of course you can ace the test, nail the job interview, brave the big move and even rock the bold outfit. We can do anything with our friends on our side. It also gives us the courage to navigate more challenging situations in our personal lives, as well as in our campus communities.

One way we can build confidence in each other is by learning how to be active bystanders. Bystander intervention is one of the most successful tactics for preventing some of the behaviors or activities that negatively affect our campus communities. From potential sexual assaults to hazing to irresponsible alcohol use, knowing when to step in is a powerful way to make a positive impact. When you have the confidence to take action, you can make a difference in the lives of your sisters and friends.

An active bystander is someone who notices potential risk in a situation near them, feels a sense of responsibility towards those involved, and finds a way to intervene. It can be easy to feel like someone else will say something or like you are inserting yourself into a situation that isn’t your business, but you know in your gut when something feels wrong. Trust that feeling and know that the safety of your sisters and others in your community is worth momentary discomfort.

How can Kappa Deltas prioritize sisterhood and safety to become active bystanders? Below are some tangible steps you can take to build confidence in members of your community by teaching intervention skills.

  • Coordinate bystander intervention training for chapter members or coworkers. Programs like Green Dot, Step UP! and others are common campus-based programs that might offer training for your entire chapter or community.
  • Check out Confidence Coalition’s “Friends Say the Tough Stuff, So Say It” campaign to learn how to intervene when a friend is in an unhealthy relationship.
  • Hold a discussion with your chapter or group of friends on ways you can intervene in unsafe situations. Consider the questions below.
    • What are some reasons we choose not to step in during a questionable situation that we witness?
    • What are some ways we can overcome those barriers? How can we find the confidence to do what we know is right?
    • What are some specific ways we can intervene? Has anyone done something like this before? Share what that experience was like.
    • How does stepping up in a situation like this build confidence and inspire action in yourself, those around you or the person whom you are supporting by intervening?
  • Did you know Kappa Delta is an official partner of the It’s On Us campaign? Take the It’s On Us pledge as individuals or as a chapter. You can find the pledge here.
  • Use these tips from RAINN about intervening in unsafe situations. Show you C.A.R.E.
    • Create a distraction. Find a way to interrupt, and distract those involved. Something as simple as “Hey, can you run to the restroom with me? I need your help!” can give someone the chance to leave a situation without feeling uncomfortable.
    • Ask directly. Sometimes, it is best to address the situation head on. You can say, “Excuse me, can I talk to you for a second? Are you comfortable with what’s going on? If you’d like to get out of this situation, we can go.”
    • Refer to an authority. If a situation seems too serious, or potentially violent, you might not be comfortable intervening directly. Call a campus official or police officer to assist.
    • Enlist others. Often times, all we need is back-up to feel comfortable stepping in. Grab a friend and approach the situation together. You can even reach out to the friends of the person who might be causing the discomfort to step in as well.
  • Check out the Resource Library to download C.A.R.E graphics and stay tuned for more resources to come.

Opportunities to be an active bystander and a thoughtful community member present themselves often. Lean on the power of your friendships to give you the confidence you need to make decisions you know are important. With our friends on our side, we can continue to build confidence and inspire action in the world around us every day.