Theory of Bystander Intervention

Video Scripting

The malicious use of a person’s state of intoxication to satisfy own sexual or emotional needs is an important problem for social activities. At parties, during walks, or as a group, a person is often the victim of sexual harassment or abuse by an offender. This situation usually depends directly on the amount of alcohol consumed — if a person has had too much to drink, their coordination of movements and independence of decisions is significantly reduced. Moreover, it should be remembered that the decision to drink alcohol is not always independent, as sometimes, in noisy companies, psychological pressure is exerted on the victim. Traditionally, the theory of witness intervention is based on the fact that outsiders observe the victim in time, stopping the aggressor’s intentions. In the video under discussion, role models are highlighted quite prominently (Plummer et al., 2014). Eric is a criminal who first had a rather friendly communication with the girls in the park, and then drank Talia and took her to the bedroom. According to Zastrow et al. (2019), it can be argued that the guy has emotional or mental disorders, which causes sexual aggression. In this case, Talia is the victim of a sexual assault — it is noticeable that her movements and speech are not precise, and she cannot control herself (Zastrow et al., 2019). A bystander is Sharon: the girl tried to ask her friend if everything was okay, but she realized that her actions were dictated by the aggressor. The critical question is why Sharon did not stop Eric. Probably the girl was afraid of the potential adverse reaction of the guy, which could lead to conflict or fight.

Meanwhile, the intervention theory implies that there are specific techniques to overcome this situation. According to NSVRC (2018), the primary mission of the witness is to draw public attention. In this regard, after realizing what result Eric expects, Sharon could personally and loudly address the guy to say that this is inappropriate behavior. The techniques of interrupting crimes could be more hidden: for example, a girl could walk up to Talia and ask how soon her father will be here to take them home. The critical task is to make sure that Eric changes his mind about committing a crime with any possible techniques.

Psychological Effects

The bystander effect model can be used to describe feelings and emotions that an outside observer experiences in cases of sexual or psychological abuse. According to this model, in a crisis, the bystanders are not in a hurry to provide help because they are believed that someone else should act (Levine et al., 2020). However, educational programs in colleges are aimed at inhibition of the negative side of such effects. There is no doubt that a witness during an act of violence will experience fear and stress: this is an entirely natural situation. Such a person feels the awkwardness of events and fear for what may happen next (Levine et al., 2020). At the same time, the untrained observer is in no hurry to intervene because they feel a psychological barrier: the aggressor’s actions are too unpredictable (McMahon & Banyard, 2012). It is the fear of becoming a party to a conflict and getting hurt that becomes a hindrance to helping the victim.

The courses teach how to deal with these feelings in order to help the person in the first place. It is essential to take control of inhibitory emotions promptly to take decisive action. The bystander must clearly understand that the well-being and health of the drunk victim depend on their intervention. When an observer is ready to become a participant in a confrontation, they may feel determined and courageous. Usually, if the perpetrator does not show aggression, the witness’s emotional spectrum remains the same. Otherwise, there is the potential to develop an acute conflict flowing into a fight.


Levine, M., Philpot, R., & Kovalenko, A. G. (2020). Rethinking the Bystander Effect in Violence Reduction Training Programs. Social Issues and Policy Review, 14(1), 273-296. Web.

McMahon, S., & Banyard, V. L. (2012). When can I help? A conceptual framework for the prevention of sexual violence through bystander intervention. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 13(1), 3-14. Web.

NSVRC. (2018). Bystander intervention tips and strategies [PDF document]. Web.

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., Brocksen, S. (Eds.). (2014). Sessions: Case histories. Laureate International Universities Publishing.

Zastrow, C.H., & Kirst-Ashman, K.K., & Hessenauer, S.L. (2019). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.

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PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Theory of Bystander Intervention'. 19 September.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Theory of Bystander Intervention." September 19, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Theory of Bystander Intervention." September 19, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Theory of Bystander Intervention." September 19, 2023.