Be an Active Bystander

Sometimes, a situation just does not feel right. It might be comments made by a friend that you feel are inappropriate; you might be worried about someone who has had too much to drink or you spot someone being harassed at a party or club.

Being an active bystander means being aware when someone’s behaviour is inappropriate or threatening and choosing to challenge it. If you do not feel comfortable doing this directly, then get someone to help you such as a friend or venue security staff.

Research shows that bystander intervention can be an effective way of stopping sexual assault before it happens, as bystanders play a key role in preventing, discouraging, and/or intervening when an act of violence has the potential to occur. 

Say something

Challenge inappropriate behaviour

Straight away –  if you can address the situation straight away without putting yourself at risk, then act now 

Polite – be polite. Don’t aggravate the situation- so think about your tone of voice, body language, how you address people. Remain calm and state why something has offended you

Evidence – stick to exactly what has happened, don’t exaggerate 

Avoid confrontation – if the situation is too dangerous to challenge then and there (such as there is the threat of violence or you are outnumbered) just walk away

Know who to speak to – there is always someone who can help. In the first instance you should always speak to someone you trust, but there also many different support mechanisms within DMU such as your Personal Tutor, Student Gateway or DSU. Call the Mandala Project hotline on 0116 207 8309 during the day and 0116 257 7642 (24 hours).

How you could help

  1. Be Direct: Let people know that their actions or language are unacceptable. If you know them, use statements that name the behaviour and how you feel: “I feel ____ when you ____ . Please don’t do that any more.” Or “Do you think that is acceptable?” Let them know the consequences of their behaviour.
  2. Distract: Interrupt, start a conversation with the person to allow their potential target to move away or have friends intervene
  3. Delegate: If you spot a situation which worries you, find someone to help. Any decent bars and clubs have a zero tolerance policy on harassment, so they will act.
  4. Body language: Sometimes you don’t have to say anything. A silent stare or disapproving look may be enough to let the person know they are out of line.

Student training sessions


The Mandala Project offers workshops to teach you how to be an active bystander and feel comfortable in challenging behaviour you feel is inappropriate.  Workshops are designed to equip all students with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to be an active bystander. If you’d like to attend email us at

How can I help?

If a friend or colleague needs support, let them know about The Mandala Project. You can become a Mandala Student Champion and support the project though the development of campaigns, events and training opportunities for fellow students. Contact  for more information.


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