Bystander Intervention Training

At Florida Atlantic University, we care about each other! When we are concerned about something, we do something about it and help out our fellow owls. We want our university to be a place where everyone takes personal responsibility for keeping it safe.

Request a Presentation/Workshop

Most of us want to help but we don’t always know how to help. Owls Care offers presentations and workshops on bystander intervention training. These presentations teach us to notice signs that someone is in distress, ask questions to figure out how to best intervene, and act in safe and effective ways. Click the button below to request a bystander intervention training presentation or workshop for your class or student group.


Tips for helping a friend

If you are unsure about how to help a friend, the following are tips from Step Up! may be a helpful start.

Sexual Assault

Be aware of comments and behaviors from others that would indicate they were intent on having sexual intercourse even if the partner was unwilling. Notice if someone is getting ready to have sexual intercourse with a partner who is incapacitated. Don’t joke about sexual assault; as this can trivialize the severity of the behavior. Many perpetrators are unaware that what they have done is a crime. (They may say, “Yeah, that was messed up, but it was fun.”) Let perpetrators know that what they did was not right and was against the law.
If you become aware that a sexual assault has occurred or are told of an assault occurring:

  • Believe the person
  • Tell the victim it is not his or her fault
  • Be ready to listen when the individual is ready to talk but don’t pry or try to get information out of the person
  • If you learn of the perpetrator's identity, don’t suggest retaliation
  • Know available resources
  • Listen
  • Be patient

Relationship abuse

Encourage any person in an abusive relationship to seek professional help. Think about your own safety when you approach the situation. You might want to have a friend with you for back up and help. If there is physical violence, call 911 right away. Do not touch the individuals no matter how well you may know them. Be aware of your tone of voice and volume. Stay calm. Calmly attempt to separate the individuals without putting yourself in danger. Be respectful of both individuals and their view points. Listen fully to the concerns.

Alcohol Abuse

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES LET INDIVIDUALS DRIVE WHILE IMPAIRED. Encourage them to stop drinking (or take their drink away) when they’ve had enough. Stay with them to ensure they will be all right. Remove them from the situation. Get them to alternate between non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Have them consume food while drinking alcoholic beverages. Tell them to avoid taking aspirin if they have been drinking. (DO NOT take Tylenol or other Acetaminophen medication for a hangover; liver damage may result!)Never discuss problematic behavior when the person is under the influence.
Alcohol Poisoning Warning Signs:

  • Person is unconscious or semiconscious
  • Person has cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin
  • Slow breathing (less than 8 breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • No response to pinching the skin
  • Vomiting while passed out, and not waking after vomiting


LISTEN. Take it seriously. Depressive/suicidal behavior can be a cry for help. Speak with the individuals in private. Voice your concern — let them know you care. Do what you can to give the person HOPE. Encourage the individuals to get help. Offer to go with them to counseling. Review the situation with a mature and compassionate person. If suicidal, call 911: let the individuals know that you will be contacting 911. Do not leave him or her alone. Notice actions/behaviors. Be observant of any medication bottles that may be present. Separate the individuals from any weapons or firearms if possible.
What not to do:

  • Don’t assume the problem will take care of itself
  • Don’t act shocked or surprised at what the person says
  • Don’t argue or debate moral issues
  • Don’t challenge or dare the person


Create plans together to avoid high-risk situations and consequences. Be aware of triggers. Be aware of defined danger (i.e. mad dogging, dirty looks, someone looking for a fight). Do not try to detain angry individuals — even if they run away. Interrupt the situation. Distract the people involved. Beware of increasing aggressive behavior and try to diffuse the situation.
Remind those involved to:

  • Stop and think – Is it worth it in the long run?
  • Remove the drama
  • Remove the ego
  • Avoid Retaliation/Escalation
  • Agree with rationale but challenge the action
  • Focus on solving the problem NOT winning the “fight”
  • Don’t get caught up in the moment
  • Think of the big picture

What you should do:

  • Walk away if the situation is unsafe
  • Stay calm, cool and collected
  • Contact 911, if necessary

Disordered Eating

Talk to your friend. Focus on concerns about your friend’s health, not on weight or appearance. Encourage the individuals to be a part of social functions and reassure them that you will not pressure them to eat if they do not want to. LISTEN. Find out what other things are going on in their lives. Let them know that you will pass no judgments on them. Ask them what you can do to help make dealing with food easier. Be aware of how you talk about others’ bodies. Promote the idea that good nutrition leads to good health and increased performance. Encourage the individual to seek professional help.

  • You are not a professional and will not be able to fix the situation— however, you can offer resources and support.
  • You may be rejected. People with eating disorders often deny their problem because they are afraid to admit they have a problem. Don’t take the rejection personally, and try to end the conversation in a way that will allow you to come back to the subject at another time.

One-on-One Consultation

If you are unsure about how to help a friend, and you’d like to discuss tips further, please contact our office to set up an appointment for a one-on-one consultation with one of our staff members. To request a consultation, click on the button below or contact us at or 561-297-1048.


On campus resources for helping a friend

Victim Services 561-297-0500 (24 Hours)
Equal Opportunity Programs/a> 561-297-3004
Dean of Students 561-297-3542
FAU Police Department 561-297-3500
Counseling and Psychological Services 561-297-3540
Owls Care Health Promotion 561-297-1048
Sexual Health Education 561-297-1048
Student Health Services 561-297-3512
Night Owls Escort Service 561-297-6695
Students with Disabilities 561-297-3880
Military and Veteran Affairs 561-297-3547
 Last Modified 3/26/15