RED ZONE: Bystander ethics – what to do if one witnesses a sexual assault

If you see something do something, is a commonly known phrase when it comes to actions a bystander should take if witnessing a sexual assault. But what does “do something” truly entail?

“In the event of witnessing a sexual assault, the first course of action should be determined by safety for both the victim and the witness. This should also include calling the police as well,” said Becca Shier local Anchorage resident.

The instinct to help others comes naturally for some Breana Fejes; a UAA student did not hesitate to say that she would step in to help a victim. However not all people are as comfortable.

“We really encourage people to step in do something if they see something that they don’t think is right or that they don’t agree with and that of course covers sexual assault and power based personal violence. The difficulty with that is it’s not always easy or safe to step in” said Julie Dale, member of the Community education and prevention team at Standing Together against Rape, or STAR.

If the environment is not safe but one would really like to help there are numerous ways to intervene without putting oneself in harm’s way or making matters worse for the victim. “One of those ways would be to delegate that task to somebody else” Dale said.  For example at a bar one can bring up suspicious behavior to a bouncer or bartender, or here on campus individuals can report to suspicious activity to campus police at 907.786.1120.

There are people whom think that stepping in can’t make a difference or that the next person will do it, something; however the more people that act the better the chances to end sexual assault.