This blog was written by Jessica Smith-Ninaber, a social media intern with One Act, to address what happens when we do not intervene in situations that may lead to violence.
Let’s paint a picture. You’re at a party, the music is loud, there’s no furniture, it’s so crowded, and you look across the room and see a man with a woman “all up in her face”. She looks cordial at first, “I think I’m good here”, he doesn’t want to hear it, he moves closer to her and begins to try and dance with her, “Sorry, I have a boyfriend”, she says. Her face begins to look more and more uncomfortable as you witness the man getting closer and closer.
Thoughts run fast through your head:
- She must know him. Why else would he be all up in her face?
- He’s just drunk and probably messing around. He doesn’t know what he’s doing…I hope.
- Does she need help?
- Who, me? No, I couldn’t, it’s none of my business.
- I should go help her, but is it safe?
And if you’re feeling extra brave that night…
- I am going to help her!
This kind of scenario happens weekly for many people on our college campus. We go to a party, we witness something that doesn’t seem quite right, two people going upstairs, one person’s drunk and the other is sober, and so often we just stand there, unable to think properly, unable to act, and unable to intervene.
We know the positives of intervening, we know what happens when we muster up the courage to approach someone and diffuse the potentially dangerous situation, we know the good that can come out of it, but have we ever stopped to think about what might happen if we don’t intervene?
It’s so easy to think the small acts we do don’t make a difference. It’s so much easier to not take responsibility and think that someone else will step up and intervene. It’s so much easier to just ignore the situation.
And yet, while that may all seem so easy and we continue about our days, our community is tolerating violence. Members of our community are becoming victims of violence. While it may be easier to not think about the woman at the party in that uncomfortable situation, on the inside she is screaming, “someone help me!”
If we don’t intervene, if we sit by passively, violence will most likely occur, sexual assault will most likely happen. We hear the statistic all the time, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their time at UNC, so how can we standby and do nothing? If you don’t say something, if you don’t intervene, if you think someone else will, then you are letting violence happen on your watch, all in the name of “it’s none of my business”. It is our responsibility as active bystanders to be just that, active bystander. It is also our responsibility as members of our Carolina community to promote behavior that we wish to become the norm; to stop behavior that threatens our safety; to promote an alternative Carolina Way that is committed to promoting health and safety on our campus.
So the next time you see someone in an uncomfortable situation at a party, run up to them and with all the vibrancy you can muster say, “Hey, weren’t you in my class?!” It’s just an out if someone needs it. Diffuse the awkward and uncomfortable situation, and get between the person and the potential perpetrator. Do something. Do your One Act. Create a new Carolina Way and together, let’s put an end to violence at UNC.
If you want to contribute to creating a new culture at Carolina you can start by signing up for One Act training here.