Promoting engaged bystander behavior

  • Published
  • By Capt. Rachel Morgan
  • Kaiserslautern Military Community Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
You think you saw something, but you aren't sure. You could be wrong; maybe it was nothing. So, you let it go, and you walk away. The next day you hear the news. Someone desperately needed your help, but you didn't realize it. It wasn't your friend. But, it was someone else's loved one. And, they needed you to step in and prevent a sexual assault.

You, as a bystander, have the opportunity to act and safely change the outcome -- to prevent an assault by stepping in when you see something that doesn't look right. Maybe you saw someone slip something into a drink. Maybe you witnessed a friend taking advantage of someone who has had too much to drink. Maybe someone grabbed your friend's butt as she walked by. Studies have shown that college-age women in the military are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group. That makes bystanders like you critical in preventing sexual assault.

In a society that promotes a "mind your own business" message, speaking up is difficult. Try to approach the situation as a friend and trust your instincts. If you see something that doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. If you think someone is in trouble, ask if they are okay. Be honest and direct in explaining your concerns and reasons for intervening. If you don't feel comfortable approaching a situation on your own, ask a friend, a supervisor or anyone for help.

You aren't wrecking someone's fun or being a jerk if you speak up. You are watching out for someone's brother, sister, girlfriend or boyfriend. You are standing up for what is right.

Next time, it could be your loved one that someone helps out.

KMC events

To begin the mandatory Sexual Assault Bystander Intervention training, contact your unit training manager. For any questions about this new program, please contact the SARC office at 480-5597.

Mike Dormitz, safe date expert, will provide a candid look at dating, communications and mutual consent during the presentation, "Can I Kiss You?" for first-term Airmen at 8:30 a.m. March 30 at the Hercules Theater here.

An entertaining program titled, "Help! My Teen is Dating: Realistic Solutions on Tough Conversations," for parents and teenagers is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. March 30 at the Galaxy Theater on Vogelweh Military Complex, Germany. For details, contact the SARC 480-7272 or the School Liaison Office at 489-667.