1 Reason to Learn Active Bystander Skills
I’ve worked in the field of sexual violence prevention for almost eight years. A few years ago, in one of our first SAFE Bar training sessions at Kilroy’s Sports, I heard an active bystander story that truly stopped me. The story goes something like this…
Josh has been on the security team at Kilroy’s on Kirkwood for a couple of years now. It’s a typical, busy Saturday night and the bar has just closed. He is standing outside watching people leave and is keeping an eye out for trouble. He notices a man helping a woman into a car. She looks like she has had too much to drink and Josh’s gut tells him that something is off about what he is seeing. Josh asks Allen, another security guy if things look off and Allen agrees they should do something. Josh walks over to the car, leans in, and says, “Hey, are you okay?” The woman mumbles something that Josh can’t make out and it seems like she doesn’t know where she is or what is happening. Josh and Allen help the woman out of the car and back inside. They work together to get her some water and try to find her friends and a safe ride home.
There is no way to know what would have happened to the woman if Josh and Allen hadn’t stepped in. We certainly know, she was a lot safer heading home with her friends that night.
A few months ago, during a SAFE Bar training at Kilroy’s Sports, we were talking about the fact that perpetrators of sexual assault will often isolate the person they are going to hurt from their friends or from staff. I started to tell Josh and Allen’s story and two guys in the front row spoke up. They said, “Hey, I think that was us. We did that.” Yes, it was Josh and Allen back for another session of SAFE Bar training, looking to improve their already solid active bystander skills.
You really only need one reason to learn how to notice concerning behavior, interrupt effectively, and provide support – ensuring a safe night out for everyone.
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