How is Sexual Assault different from animals hunting in the wild? We don't believe it is. Picture lions hunting: what animals do they choose to go after? The innocent zebras! Lions stalk the heard of zebras, and then attack the weakest and most vulnerable. The chase is on. A lion gets one zebra out of the herd and quickly brings it down. As the lion feeds on the fallen zebra, the rest of the heard will stop a short distance away and watch one of their own being devoured. Perhaps they distance themselves from the fallen zebra by telling themselves they didn’t know that zebra. "Maybe it wasn't one of my herd" , they think. Bystander awareness addresses this tendency and gives us tools to use to help prevent assault. Unfortunately, many people are no different when it comes to sexual aggression and assault. Bystanders with zebra mentalities often think that it will never happen to them or anyone they care about.
How does Bystander Awareness affect us?
Most people would say they would never rape, harass, stalk or abuse their partners. But are there instances when when we let our morals slide? What about the party where someone is singled out because they had too much to drink, or possibly had substances pushed on them? Both men and women see that person being led away (from the herd), yet no one gets involved. If that person's friends would intercept them, or one good Samaritan would take action, maybe that person would not be victimized. In reality, does anyone step forward? Generally, not. Much like the zebras, they stand by and watch. Justifications inside their mind are made; maybe they just look the other way. Regardless of what goes through their mind, they do nothing. We as a society must eliminate this zebra, bystander mentality. But where do we begin?
As a Bystander, how can I help a victim?
Q: What is the first thing I need to do?
Steve's Answer: You must first take notice of the offending behavior. This will come from the knowledge of what sexual violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment looks like. A sexual offense is anytime, anyone, does anything of a sexual nature without consent of the other party. One cannot give consent when drunk, drugged, or afraid. For more information on what assault looks like in the real world, click here.
Q: If I notice someone pushing alcohol or drugs on another person with possibly bad intentions, what should I do?
Steve's Answer: Get others involved. It's honestly as simple as that. By getting friends and others to prevent the intoxicated person from leaving with potentially harmful person, you could be putting a stop to a horrific event. Try persuading the friends of the potentially harmful person to talk them, and get them to stop. Tell the offender if they follow through, it will be a felony, and that could seriously impact their life. Take these actions, with the ultimate goal of separating these two people.
Q: Is there anything I can do to stop being harassed by my boss or teacher?
Steve Answer: Yes. You always have the option to protect yourself. Though not 100% guaranteed to make the authority figure stop; I recommend confronting them using the XYZ approach. X is the behavior; Y is how it makes you feel, and Z is what you want them to do.
Example: “ Dr. Smith, when you say those things (X), I feel very uncomfortable (Y), it is not professional and I want it to stop (Z). If it continues use XYZ again with a consequence. “Dr. Smith, when you say those things (X), I feel very uncomfortable (Y), it is not professional, and I want it so stop (Z). If it doesn't stop, I will report you/call the authorities/go to your boss.
If the behavior still has not stopped, follow through with the consequence.
Incidents of sexual aggression rarely happen where others are not aware, and individuals who are physically and emotionally abused show signs. We can choose to ignore this, or stand up, throw away the zebra mentality, and take positive bystander awareness action steps.
Contact us today to find out more about our stance on sexual assault , as well as our cutting edge prevention programs.