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Power-Based Personal Violence

Power-Based Personal Violence is an umbrella term under which many harmful behaviors and attitudes may fall, and all of them are appropriate scenarios for active bystander intervention.

We encourage bystanders to intervene early and often. It is important that we do not wait for the moment of escalation or crisis to intervene if we witness something. We, as bystanders, need to pay attention to our surroundings so that we can notice and intervene when we see lower-level, but still harmful behaviors that contribute to violence. For example, we should intervene when someone tells a sexist joke because rape culture normalizes violence that is more explicit and increases the chance of victim blaming. We should intervene when we observe a microaggression because this behavior normalizes escalated racist, transphobic, homophobic, ablest, and/or xenophobic behavior and attitudes.

The power of bystander intervention is that it is both reactive and proactive. Reactive bystander intervention involves intervention in the moment to disrupt active harm. Proactive bystander intervention involves setting new cultural norms that tell those we interact with that violence is not tolerated and that we all have a part to play in an anti-violence movement. The former prevents harm from happening in the moment, but the latter seeks to drive culture change and prevent violence from happening in the first place. Both are equally important as Ohio University continues to foster an environment that normalizes intervention and invests in the well being of its students and community.