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Bystander Intervention and Prevention Resources

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Learn about bystander intervention, prevention and find resources.


Be an intervener! Stop these incidents before they occur, and talk to your friends about it so that they will intervene as well!

  1. Notice the Incident

Bystanders first must notice the incident taking place. Obviously, if they don't take note of the situation there is no reason to help.

  1. Interpret incident as emergency

Bystanders also need to evaluate the situation and determine whether it is an emergency—or at least one in which someone needs assistance. Again, if people do not interpret a situation as one in which someone needs assistance, then there is no need to provide help.

  1. Assume Responsibility

Another decision bystanders make is whether they should assume responsibility for giving help. One repeated finding in research studies on helping is that a bystander is less likely to help if there are other bystanders present. When other bystanders are present responsibility for helping is diffused. If a lone bystander is present he or she is more likely to assume responsibility.

  1. Decide How To Respond Appropriately

Once you have decided to act, you want to consider the best way to safely intervene.

Some of the options include:

  • Directly responding - You take responsibility as the person intervening and you confront the situation directly.
  • Distraction - You use distraction to redirect the focus somewhere else.
  • Delegate - You ask someone else to intervene, be it the police, security, or someone else.

This might include delegating to:                                                                                                       

  • LUPD                                                 Lincoln University Employees
  • Supervisors                                        Colleagues/Other Students
  • Human Resources                               External Police/9-1-1
  • Local Domestic Violence center         Hotline or website resources
  1. Take Action
  • Whether this is to help the person leave the situation, confront a behavior, diffuse a situation, or call for other support/security.
  • The best way bystanders can assist in creating an empowering climate free of interpersonal violence is to diffuse the problem behaviors before they escalate.
  • Educate yourself about interpersonal violence AND share this info with friends
  • Confront friends who make excuses for other peoples abusive behavior Speak up against racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes or remarks

Tips for Intervening In a situation potentially involving sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking:

  • Approach everyone as a friend
  • Do not be antagonistic
  • Avoid using violence
  • Be honest and direct whenever possible
  • Recruit help if necessary
  • Keep yourself safe
  • If things get out of hand or become too serious, contact the police

See "The Bystander Intervention Playbook" for more info on intervening techniques

(Adapted from information presented by the University of Wisconsin La Crosse)

This is a list of behaviors that are seen in people who abuse their partners. The first four behaviors (past abuse, threats of violence, breaking objects and any force during an argument) are almost always seen in an abusive person. If someone exhibits more than three of any of these warning signs, there is a strong potential for abuse in the relationship. An abuser may exhibit only a few of these behaviors, but they may be quite exaggerated. 

  • Past abuse

An abuser may say, "I hit someone in the past, but she made me do it." An abusive person who minimizes what happened with a previous partner is likely to be violent with their current partner. Abusive behavior does not just go away; long-term counseling and a sincere desire to change are necessary. 

  • Threats of violence or abuse

Threats can involve anything that is meant to control the victim. For example, "I'll tell your parents about your drug use if you don't do what I want." Healthy relationships do not involve threats, but an abusive person will try to excuse this behavior by saying that "everybody talks like that."

  • Breaking objects

An abuser may break things, beat on tables or walls or throw objects around or near the victim. This behavior terrorizes the victim and can send the message that physical abuse is the next step.

  • Use of force during an argument

An abuser may use force during arguments, including holding the victim down, physically restraining the victim from leaving the room, and pushing and shoving. For example, an abuser may hold a victim against the wall and say, "You're going to listen to me."

  • Jealousy

An abuser will say that jealousy is a sign of love. In reality, jealousy has nothing to do with love. It is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness. An abuser may question the victim about whom they talk to or be jealous of time spent with other people. As the jealousy progresses, the abuser will call the victim frequently, stop by unexpectedly or monitor the victim's activities.

  • Controlling behavior

An abuser will claim that controlling behavior is out of concern for the victim's welfare. They will be angry if the victim is late and will frequently interrogate the victim. As this behavior gets worse, the abuser will control the victim's appearance and activities.

  • Quick involvement

An abuser will often pressure someone to make a commitment after a very short amount of time. The abuser comes on quickly, claiming "love at first sight," and will tell the victim flattering things such as "You're the only person I could ever love." 

  • Unrealistic expectations

The abuser is dependent on the victim for everything and expects perfection. The victim is expected to take care of everything for the abuser, particularly all emotional support. The abuser will say things like, "You're the only person I need in my life." 

  • Isolation

The abuser will attempt to diminish and destroy the victim's support system. If a female victim has male friends, she is accused of being a "whore." If she has female friends, she is accused of being a "lesbian." If she is close to her family, she is accused of being "tied to the apron strings." The abuser will accuse people who are close to the victim of "causing trouble."

  • Blames others for problems

Abusers will rarely admit to the part they play in causing a problem. She will blame the victim for almost anything that goes wrong.

  • Blames others for their feelings

An abuser will tell the victim, "I hurt you because you made me mad," or "You're hurting me when you don't do what I ask." Blaming the victim is a way of manipulating them and avoiding any responsibility.

  • Hypersensitivity

An abuser can be easily insulted. The slightest setbacks are seen as personal attacks. An abuser will rage about the everyday difficulties of life as if they are injustices -- such as getting a traffic ticket or not doing well on an exam.

  • Cruelty to animals or children

An abuser may brutally punish animals or be insensitive to their pain or suffering. Pets can be used to control the victim or to emotionally abuse them.

  • "Playful" use of force during sex

The abuser may like to hold the victim down during sex. They may want to act out sexual fantasies in which the victim is helpless. An abuser may show little concern about whether the victim wants to have sex and use sulking or anger to manipulate the victim into compliance. They may demand sex or start having sex with the victim when they are sleeping or very intoxicated.

  • Rigid sex roles

Male abusers often expect women to serve and obey them. They view women as inferior to men and believe that a woman is not a whole person without a relationship with a man.

  • Jekyll-and-Hyde personality

Explosiveness and mood swings are typical of abusers, and these behaviors are related to other traits such as hypersensitivity. This is not always a sign of mental health problems but may be a way of controlling the victim by being unpredictable.

Adapted from Wilson, K.J. When Violence Begins at Home: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Ending Domestic Abuse. Alameda, CA: Hunter House Publishers, (1997).

No victim is ever to blame for being assaulted or abused.  Unfortunately, a person who is the victim of sexual or dating violence is more likely to be re-victimized.  Below are some tips to help reduce your risk, and how to avoid potential attacks.

If you are being abused or suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up or intervene.

  1. Get help by contacting the Campus Counselor  and/or Student Health Center for support services 
  2. Learn how to look for "red flags" in relationships so you can learn to avoid some of those characteristics in future partners
  3. Consider getting a protective order or stay away order
  4. Learn more about what behaviors constitute dating and domestic violence, understand it is not your fault, and talk with friends and family members about ways you can be supported.
  5. Trust your instincts—if something doesn't feel right in a relationship, speak up or end it.
  • Be aware of rape drugs
  • Try not to leave your drink unattended
  • Only drink from un-opened containers or from drinks you have watched being made and poured
  • Avoid group drinks like punch bowls
  • Cover your drink. It is easy to slip in a small pill even while you are holding your drink. Hold a cup with your hand over the top, or choose drinks that are contained in a bottle and keep your thumb over the nozzle
  • If you feel extremely tired or drunk for no apparent reason, you may have been drugged. Find your friends and ask them to leave with you as soon as possible
  • If you suspect you have been drugged, go to a hospital and ask to be tested
  • Keep track of how many drinks you have had
  • Try to come and leave with a group of people you trust
  • Avoid giving out your personal information (phone number, where you live, etc.). If someone asks for your number, take his/her number instead of giving out yours
  • Make sure your cell phone is easily accessible and fully charged
  • Be familiar with where emergency phones are installed on the campus
  • Be aware of open buildings where you can use a phone
  • Keep some change accessible just in case you need to use a pay phone
  • Take major, public paths rather than less populated shortcuts
  • Avoid dimly lit places and talk to campus services if lights need to be installed in an area
  • Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone
  • Walking back from the library very late at night is sometimes unavoidable, so try to walk with a friend
  • Carry a noisemaker (like a whistle) on your keychain
  • Carry a small flashlight on your keychain
  • If walking feels unsafe, try calling campus security. Many campuses offer safe ride programs

Alcohol Safety Tips

  • Designate a sober driver.
  • Don't drink on an empty stomach. Eat foods high in protein and fat, such as cheese or nuts.
  • Set a limit and stick to it!
  • Avoid beer bongs, chugging, and drinking games.
  • Know when you've had enough.
  • Alternate alcoholic beverages with water, and be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
  • Never drink when you're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.
  • Pace yourself. Drink slower and eat in between alcohol drinks. It takes the body 60-90 minutes to fully feel
  • the effects of alcohol on a full stomach.
  • Know the symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
  • Never leave your drinks unattended or accept an open beverage from anyone.


Facts About Alcohol and Sexual Assaults

Cited Facts

Other Facts

  • Assailants use many forms of coercion, threats and manipulation to rape including alcohol and drugs. Alcohol, Rohypnol and other drugs are often used to incapacitate victims.
  • Alcohol impairs judgment and lowers inhibitions, making some people more likely to force sex on an unwilling partner.
  • Alcohol slows reflexes and can impair the victim's ability to recognize a potentially dangerous situation.
  • Under the influence of alcohol, men are more likely to interpret a woman's smile, laughter, clothes or body language as evidence that she wants to have sex.
  • Sexual assault is a crime of violence: Alcohol never justifies violent, criminal behavior. Intoxication can never be used as a defense for someone who commits a sexual assault.


More Info on Research and Studies about Alcohol Use at Colleges & Universities