The Bystander Project is a movement to shift the way we think about bystander behavior. Through legislative action, educational programs, and cultural awareness, we aim to create a world where bystanders are empowered to stand up – not stand by – in the face of sexual assault and abuse.
When people know, but don’t speak up, the reasons are often complex: Fear of the consequences. Discomfort with the topic. Shame. A lack of education. But the problem is that bystander behavior actually allows rape and abuse to go undetected, and unreported. Bystander behavior is a critical part of the system that supports rape and abuse – but it also has the potential to be the solution. The Bystander Project aims to tackle the issues and motivations behind bystander culture by bringing awareness to the world, and creating long-term change around sexual abuse and assault through advocacy, education and legislation.
We take a three-pronged approach in our advocacy work:
By raising awareness about the prevalence of bystander behavior in cases of sexual abuse and how our culture supports it, we can help remove the stigma from the issue of sexual abuse and assault, and empower both survivors and bystanders to speak up, without shame.
There are three primary areas that we’re working within to change laws nationwide: statute of limitation law reform, ending the rape kit backlog, and requiring the teaching of age-appropriate child sexual abuse curriculum to elementary, middle and high school students, teachers and administrators.
Statute of Limitations Law Reform: One of the major obstacles that survivors face is Statute of Limitations laws that prohibit them from pressing charges against their perpetrators after a certain period of time has elapsed. We’re working with advocates, law enforcement, and legislators to mobilize the larger community to take legislative action. Our goal is to spark change in state laws to create a more just system that protects its victims, not punishes them.
Ending the Rape Kit Backlog: Eliminating the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in the United States will be an invaluable investigative tool to solve and prevent sex crimes. It can identify an unknown assailant, reveal serial offenders, and bring opportunities for justice and healing to survivors.
Age-Appropriate Child Sexual Abuse Education: For many years, children have been cautioned about "stranger danger". The reality is that more than 90% of the time, a child knows and trusts their abuser. The curriculum teaches children to trust their instincts, create healthy boundaries and speak up for themselves.
Learn more about our legislative action.
Bystander culture exists in our schools and churches, in our communities and in our homes. We believe that true change can only happen at the source of the problem. Through educational programs in elementary, middle and high schools, universities, crisis centers, and more, The Bystander Project will introduce curriculum about what bystander behavior is, empowering people to take part in bystander intervention. Let’s open the dialogue about bystander behavior, begin healing our communities, and let the world know that it's time to stand up, not stand by. Let's CHANGE THE CULTURE!
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.