Bystander Intervention

Title IX – Sexual Misconduct/Sex Discrimination


North Central Missouri College welcomes, encourages, and celebrates all members of the campus community and supports an environment that fosters respect, inclusiveness and opportunity for all members. NCMC encourages everyone to educate themselves and take action against abusive behavior, racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes or remarks and violent behavior. The best way to do this is to help create an inclusive environment that empowers others. By intervening when dangerous situations occur, problem behaviors are stopped before they escalate.

People may not feel comfortable intervening because they may assume the situation isn’t a problem, or feel it is none of their business. They may assume that someone else will do something, or believe that other people weren’t bothered by the problem. In some cases, a person might feel their personal safety is at risk.

When people do intervene in a situation, they often say that it was the right thing to do, and that they would want someone to intervene if the roles were reversed.

Bystander Intervention Keys

How to Recognize Sexual Assault

What is Consent?
An active process where there is clear and unmistakable voluntary agreement, expressed in mutually understandable words or actions, to engage in sexual activity. Silence or absence of resistance does not imply consent. Informed consent cannot be gained by force, coercion, threat, by ignoring or acting in spite of the objections of another, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the respondent knows or reasonably should have known of such incapacitation. Informed consent is also absent when the activity in question exceeds the scope of informed consent previously given, i.e. past consent does not imply future consent. Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. In the state of Missouri, consent cannot be provided if the person lacks the mental capacity to authorize the conduct charged to constitute the offense and such mental incapacity is manifest or known to the actor; or it is given by a person who by reason of youth, mental disease or defect, intoxication, a drug-induced state, or any other reason anyone under the age of seventeen cannot give informed consent.

Incapacitation:
The physical and/or mental inability to make informed rational judgments. States of incapacitation include, without limitation, sleep, blackouts, flash-backs, when a person is unconscious, or because of an intellectual or other disability that prevents the person from having the capacity to give consent. A person can also be incapacitated due to the use of drugs or alcohol. Where alcohol or other drugs are involved, one does not have to be intoxicated or drunk to be considered incapacitated. Rather, incapacitation is determined by how the alcohol consumed impacts a person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of consequences, and ability to make informed decisions. The question is whether the respondent knew, or a sober, reasonable person in the position of the respondent should have known, that the complainant was incapacitated. Because incapacitation may be difficult to discern, students and employees are strongly encouraged to err on the side of caution; i.e., when in doubt, assume that another person is incapacitated and therefore unable to give consent. Being intoxicated or drunk is never a defense to a complaint of sexual misconduct under this policy.

Voluntary (freely given):
Consent must be voluntary; it cannot be obtained by coercion or force. Even if someone did not physically resist an attacker, that doesn’t mean they gave consent. Some survivors don’t resist for fear physical resistance might make their attackers more violent. Research also indicates that some rape victims may experience “tonic immobility” during the rape. In other words, they are literally paralyzed by fear.

Only Active (not passive): Consent must be active. If someone were unconscious, asleep, incapacitated or incoherent by drugs or alcohol, then they couldn’t consent. Indeed, even if someone did not remember being sexually assaulted, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Informed: If someone consented to one intimate act, it does not imply that they have consented to others. Consent must be informed, which means you and your partner know what you are consenting to beforehand. Always ask before increasing the level of intimacy.

Clear: If someone didn’t say no, it doesn’t mean they consented. Remember, consent must be active and involve clear words or actions. Always get clear affirmation. Never assume consent.

Engaged Permission: Just because you have consented to something in the past, doesn’t imply that you consent to it in the future. Similarly, being in a relationship with someone doesn’t mean you or your partner have consented to sexual activity. Always ask for permission to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.

Tips for Intervening

In a situation potentially involving sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking:

  • Approach everyone as a friend
  • Do not be antagonistic
  • Avoid using violence
  • Be honest and direct whenever possible
  • Keep yourself safe
  • Keep your phone handy, call for help or document when you can safely do so.
  • If things get out of hand or become too serious, call 911

Active Bystander Intervention takes a number of forms:

  • Talking to a friend to ensure he or she is doing okay, Ask directly, “Do you need a ride?”
  • Have a buddy system, and let your friends know if you’re worried about them
  • Making up an excuse to help the friend get away from someone
  • Calling the police (911)
  • Recommending to a bartender or party host that someone has had too much to drink
  • Pointing out someone’s disrespectful behavior in a safe and respectful manner that tends to de-escalate the situation
  • Removing a friend from a risky situation quickly

The Bystander Intervention Playbook

The College of William and Mary put together a playbook of advice for bystander intervention. These tips may be useful.

  • Defensive Split Step in and separate two people. Let them know your concerns and reasons for intervening. Be a friend and let them know you are acting in their best interest. Make sure each person makes it home safely
  • Pick and Roll Use a distraction to redirect the focus somewhere else: “Hey, I need to talk to you.” or “Hey, this party is lame. Let’s go somewhere else.”
  • The Option Evaluate the situation and people involved to determine your best move. You could directly intervene yourself, or alert friends of each person to come in and help. If the person reacts badly, try a different approach.
  • Full Court Press Recruit the help of friends of both people to step in as a group.
  • Fumblerooski Divert the attention of one person away from the other person. Have someone standing by to redirect the other person’s focus (see Pick and Roll). Commit a party foul (i.e. spilling your drink) if you need to.