Methodist Healthcare April 15, 2013

Bystander Intervention Helps Diffuse Situations

That Can Lead to Sexual Assault 

Fiesta is a time when San Antonians party hearty.  So, if a group of girlfriends is out for Fiesta and one is drinking too much and decides to accept a ride home with a man she just met, is there anything her friends can do to intervene in this situation to prevent a potential sexual assault?

Shelley Botello, RN, BSN, CA-CP SANE, SANE-A, and program coordinator for the Sexual Assault Response Team at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital, a campus of Methodist Healthcare, says there isBystander intervention is a new philosophy and strategy for preventing sexual assault that is gaining strength. This approach encourages people to identify situations that might lead to a sexual assault and then safely intervene to prevent an assault from occurring. By intervening with a method that de-escalates the situation, such as humor or distraction, a bystander can diffuse problem behaviors before they escalate.

“The girlfriends in our example can intervene and put their friend in a cab or take her home themselves,” said Botello.  “They also might intervene earlier when the man offers to buy her another drink—turning the perpetrator away from the opportunity to commit a sexual assault.”

People are buying into bystander intervention because it discourages victim blaming and shifts responsibility to both men and women.  Also, it encourages individuals to step in when they see people who are not making good choices themselves or are in potentially dangerous situations. 

According to Botello, Saturday is the busiest day for sexual assaults, followed by Friday and Thursday—all prime party times during Fiesta.


Media Contacts:

JoAnn King, PR Director, Methodist Healthcare, 575-0171. 

Shirley Wills at 822-2378 or 365-4488 (cell) 

For media assistance during the weekend, please phone Methodist Hospital, 575-4000, and ask for the public relations representative on call.