Active Bystander Intervention

We all can take action to prevent sexual violence. By intervening in situations that could lead to sexual violence, active bystanders can both prevent harm and uphold important community values, such as mutual respect and care.

The #ItTakesAllOfUsSFU Campaign

This year, the annual #ItTakesAllOfUsSFU campaign takes place from October 24-28 2022. The goal of this educational campaign is to strengthen our university community’s ability to recognize and respond to sexual violence when we witness it. There are concrete steps we can take in the moment to address harm, directly and indirectly. Reach out to us so we can collaboratively build educational opportunities, through workshops and campaigns, that meet the unique needs of your community. Or email us at to request print posters for your spaces on the SFU or FIC campuses. 

Everyday Bystander Intervention Strategies: The 4Ds

When it comes to intervening in situations that could lead to sexual violence, trust your judgment. Sometimes the best time to act is after something has happened and not on the spot. 

Please consider your physical and emotional safety and the safety of others. Don’t choose to intervene in ways that put you or anyone else at risk of harm. Be mindful of your boundaries and get to know the resources available to you and others on and off campus, in case you need support.


Call out negative behaviour and ask them to stop.


Seek help if there are other people who witness the negative behaviour. 


Change the focus of the conversation or situation.


Check in with the person or report the behaviour afterward.

During the Incident:

Name and acknowledge the harm.

Name and identify the inappropriate behaviour so that it’s not ignored. Create an opportunity for discussion about why this behaviour is harmful.

Interrupt the behaviour.

Create a distraction and call attention away from the person being targeted. By interrupting the behaviour, you may protect someone from being hurt and /or prevent someone from causing harm.

Publicly support someone who has experienced harm.

By showing your support for the person who has experienced harm, you're indicating that the harmful behaviour is not acceptable. 

Use body language to show your disapproval.

Use non-verbal body language to disrupt the behaviour without confronting the person who's causing harm.

Encourage dialogue.

We all come from different cultures and lived experiences. Sometimes we say or do things that unintentionally hurt someone else. Some tensions may be due to people misunderstanding each other's beliefs, motivations or intentions. Open conversations can help build understanding

Call for help.

Recognize the harmful situation and get help from someone who's better able to intervene or cope with the situation.

After the Incident:

Check in and offer support to the person impacted.

Listen with compassion and offer to connect them to support resources.

Talk privately with the person who did harm (if you feel safe doing so).

If the person who caused harm is a friend, co-worker, classmate, family member, or other acquaintance, you may consider having a private conversation with them about their comments or actions. Clearly identify the harmful comments / actions and offer to explain why their behaviour wasn't okay.

De-brief with an SVSPO Case Manager.

If you're unsure of what to do after an incident, an SVSPO case manager can guide you through any potential next steps.

Tend to your own wellbeing.

Witnessing such situations can be difficult to process, especially if you feel like your intervention was unsuccessful. Be mindful of your own well-being and get support if you're feeling negatively impacted by the situation.

Why does a bystander’s response matter?

  • People who experience sexual violence or other forms of harm are often left frustrated or angry that bystanders did nothing and didn’t intervene.
  • It helps build a community and culture of care, one that recognizes the right of each of us as individuals to live free of violence, harassment and microaggressions.
  • When bystanders are silent, the person who has done harm may think that such behaviour is acceptable.
  • When bystanders don’t intervene, the victim/survivor may think it’s their fault, that nothing can be done and that they will have to live with such behaviour.