Bystander scenarios

Below are some approaches you could consider. These approaches are by no means exhaustive – you could probably think of others for any given situation.

Use your judgement and common sense. The most effective time to act may be later, not on the spot, and you may want to get advice before taking steps.

Of course you should not choose a course of action that puts you or anyone else at risk or harm. Know and respect your own limits and ‘comfort zone’ and use your common sense.

To get guidance for yourself or refer people appropriately familiarise yourself with the  resources on Think Prevent.


You are in the cafeteria with work mates and a group nearby start making sexual gestures and comments to one of your friends that’s sitting with you. Though trying to ignore the comments, you see that your friend is upset. What do you do? 

Your friend tells you that he/she thinks they were raped. What do you do?

You wake up in the middle of the night hearing screaming, crying, yelling and banging from a neighbour’s house or apartment.  What do you do?

You think someone in your family is in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. What do you do?

You’re at a pub. Someone nearby has had a lot to drink and is being harassed or manipulated by someone you think may do something physically harmful to them. What do you do?

A co-worker starts talking about a recent high-profile rape or domestic violence case and blames the victim for what happened. What do you do?

Your male friend tells you that he had an unwanted sexual experience when he was younger with someone he looked up to. He questions if it was sexual assault because he was sexually aroused during the interaction. What do you do?

A student tells you their boy/girlfriend is hurting them, harassing them and/or forcing them into sexual situations. What do you do?

The guys on your team are constantly making lewd, rude or degrading comments about women and girls or calling each other names that imply they are “weak like girls.” What do you do?

12 year old Christine hangs around after youth group. You chat about things going on at school with her as your clearing away, but she’s distracted and isn’t following your conversation. She finally discloses that the last time she visited her grandparents, her grandfather took her down to the basement, rubbed her between her legs, then put his hand on her chest over her breasts and told her she was getting to be a big girl and would need a bigger bra soon. She doesn’t want her parents to know, but she just can’t go stay with her grandparents. She doesn’t want you to tell anyone. What do you do?