How to Help a Friend

How to be an Active Bystander

The Four D’s of Intervention

When you see a potentially unsafe situation …

Direct – Step in and address the situation directly.

Example: “That’s not cool. Please Stop” or “Hey, leave them alone.”

Distract – Create a distraction to suppress the situation.

Example: “Hey aren’t you in my Spanish class?”

Delegate – Find someone who can help you intervene.

Example: You could contact an R.A., a campus police officer, or a faculty or staff member.  

Delay – It may be best to delay any action for a few minutes.

Example: If you are in a group, you could delay your intervention by asking the person to use the restroom with you.

How to Support a Friend Who has Been Victimized

Believe them.

Don't ask them to describe what happened or ask judgmental questions. You can say, "I believe you."

Remind them that it is not their fault.

The responsibility for an assault always completely lies on the perpetrator. You can say, "I'm sorry that someone hurt you"


Let your friend know that you care and that you are available to them when they want to talk. You can say, "Thank you for trusting me with your story."

Suggest resources.

Examples include talking to your RA, a counselor, or the campus sexual assault advocate.

Click here for more victim resources.

Let them make their own decision.

If your friend is dealing with a controlling and manipulative partner, the last thing they need is for you to mimic those behaviors by forcefully telling them what to do. You can say, "I support you, whatever you choose to do next."


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Center for Student Involvement and Leadership
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Student Union 330, P.O. Box # 1
1301 E Main St
Murfreesboro, TN 37132


Dr. Maigan Wipfli,
Director of June Anderson Center

Danielle Bratton,
Coordinator Office for Violence
Against Women Grant/
Power of ONE