The 5 Steps of Intervention

The five-step system describes our internal thought patterns when deciding whether or not to intervene.

  1. Notice what is happening around you. Evaluate the situation and assess what appears to be happening. This isn't only about recognizing a potential sexual assault, it's also about identifying street harassment and other inappropriate behaviors.
  2. Consider whether the situation calls for action. Intervening can be difficult to perform if the bystander is not sure of whether or not to act. That's why all bystanders should carefully figure out what appears to be the situation. If it is hard to figure out what is happening, try asking other bystanders what they think is happening. This can also be useful if the bystander themselves are not sure if help should be given from someone more qualified.
  3. "Am I responsible?" It can be hard to figure out if you are responsible for another person. As a bystander, watching a situation unfold between two strangers might not make the bystander feel responsible for helping them. Instead, a bystander might simply watch or ignore the strangers. Deciding responsibility means taking action, such as directly intervening or finding someone who can. As a bystander, it is up to you to decide who is responsible, whether that person is yourself or someone else. 
  4. Choose an action that you think is best. You have the power to intervene, but you also have the power to contact someone who might be better equipped to handle the situation. Choosing to act can be done in a variety of ways, such as by distraction, and can be done solo or with assistance from others.
  5. Can you do it safely? Safety is the most important step in any intervention action. Safety of the victim and the bystander should be considered at all times and intervention should not be performed if you feel that someone's safety could be threatened. In the event that safety is compromised one should utilize other resources, such as campus police or residential advisers. Remember, we intervene to help end a situation, not to escalate it further.