An Upstander is someone who stands up and takes action when they know something is happening that isn’t okay. A bystander just stands by.
What can you do?
- Talk to your friends about relationships. Share your ideas about what is healthy and unhealthy. Ask your friends what they think. Share resources for everyone to recognize warning signs of abuse.
- Stay connected. Abusers often try to isolate the person they are abusing. Spend time with your friends. If they are in a relationship spend time with them one on one as well as a couple. Check in on them.
- If someone you know is being hurt, talk to them privately if possible. Listen to their experiences. Let them know that no one deserves to be hurt. Ask if there’s any kind of help or support they would like.
- If you see something bad happening and if it is safe for you to speak up, do so. Can you ask the person being hurtful to stop? Can you change the subject or create a distraction?
- If the situation is dangerous, consider getting help. Who can intervene to make everyone safer in the moment? A teacher, parent, school resource officer, and/or a friend of the abuser?
- Sometimes people say things that blame the victim of violence or make jokes of violence. If you hear comments like this or see sexist memes on the internet, make it clear you don’t approve. That may be the first time that someone has ever heard alternative ideas like yours and you can help people change their behavior.
- Get support. Whether it’s knowing people you can talk to and get help from like trusted adults, or having a caring group of friends to share ideas with, it’s important that you have support. Standing up for yourself, your beliefs, and for other people can sometimes be challenging or feel isolating at first. If there is a community group in your area, consider joining it to find people to talk with.