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5 things you can do to prevent sexual violence

Bystander intervention plays an important role in the issue of consent
December 1, 2015
By Meagan Boisse

You see your friend, who is clearly wasted, stagger out of a bar with some guy. Do you stay and and keep dancing?

That was just one of the scenarios that Julie Lalonde shared with participants attending a recent bystander intervention presentation, hosted by Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre.

In answer to this question, Lalonde says it comes down to consent. A friend who is drunk can’t consent. So, how can you help your friend?

Lalonde says there is always more than one option for a bystander. The founder of the Draw the Line campaign says she has met a lot of people who’ve wanted to intervene in past situations, but instead turned a blind eye out of shyness or uncertainty.

That is why she’s currently touring campuses across Canada to talk about how students can become more comfortable in the role of a bystander.

1. Sexual violence doesn’t always look violent

Lalonde says it’s important to recognize that not all situations that lead to sexual violence will be “in your face” or involve a visible struggle.

Sometimes an interaction can look relatively minor, but it can have the potential to escalate. Whether it’s a guy pressuring a girl to drink at a party, a rape joke or body language, whenever something causes you to stop and wonder, trust your intuition and recognize it as a red flag.

2. Check in with your friend

Intervening doesn’t have to be a confrontation. If you see something that makes you uneasy, a quick, discreet “Are you okay?” is a safe and effective way to open the door for the person who is being targeted.

3. Make up an excuse to get your friend out of the situation

If you think someone needs help, you can make up an excuse to get the person to safety. Lalonde offers a few suggestions:

“Hey, your ride's here!”

“Her mom is sick and needs her.”

“I think someone over there is looking for you.”

You can also call the person’s cell phone to distract her and the potential perpetrator.

4. Be aware of the “red zone”

While sexual assault can occur any time and anywhere, certain times of the year are particularly dangerous, says Lalonde, referring to the “red zone.” That’s the first six to eight weeks of the traditional school year, between the start of the term and Thanksgiving.

During this period students are at an increased risk of encountering sexual assault or violence, especially if alcohol is involved.

5. Tell the bouncer/bartender or host

If you see something at a bar or at a party that raises a red flag, but feel afraid to intervene, approach the bouncer, bartender or host, and share your concern with them: “I think my friend is in trouble and needs help.”

Consent: It’s simple as drinking a cup of tea. Watch the video: 

Shared with permission.
Produced by Blue Seat Studios.
Script - Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess ... Animation - Rachel Brian ... VO - Graham Wheeler.


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