Bystander Network

Relationship Violence

Has your partner ever done any of the following to you?
  • Put you down and make you feel ashamed
  • Tell you what you can do and who you can see
  • Uses alcohol or drug use as an excuse for harming you
  • Threatens to hurt you, a loved one, children, or a pet
  • Pushes you, hits you, or forces you to engage in sexual activity
  • Makes you feel bad for not wanting to have sex with them
  • Accuses you of cheating on them or wanting to be with others

If you answer “yes” even once, you may be experiencing abuse.

Sexual Assault

Sexual violence is any attempted, threatened, or actual, sexual contact without that person’s consent

You do not have consent when:
  • Someone is sleeping
  • Someone is unconscious or incapacitated due to alcohol or drugs
  • Sexual contact occurs under pressure, threat or force
  • Someone does not clearly communicate that they want to have sex
  • Absence of a “no” does not mean “yes”
  • Consenting to something previously does not imply consent in the future
  • Consenting to one sexual act does not mean someone is consenting to other acts


This can happen from a stranger, acquaintance or current/ex-partner and includes:

  • Physically following
  • Using social media to harass someone
  • Using technology to track someone
  • Repeated calls/texts
  • Threats
  • Property damage
  • Coming to someone’s home/work
  • Other actions that scare someone

Common Reactions to Abuse/Violence

While there is not one way to respond, common reactions include:

  • Blaming self
  • Constantly feeling unsafe
  • Feeling numb
  • Avoiding others
  • Acting like everything is normal
  • Flashbacks/nightmares
  • Difficulty with school
  • Feeling confused, afraid, and/or angry
  • Easily startled
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Feeling powerless

Supporting Someone who has Experienced Abuse

If someone discloses to you, you may be the first person they are telling. What you say or do not say could greatly influence their journey to healing.

  • Say, “It’s not your fault.”
  • Say, “I believe you.”
  • Say, “I support you.”
How to Help Someone
  • Call 911 if it is an emergency and/or they are in immediate danger
  • Access a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) at Sparrow (517-364-1000)
  • Seek medical attention if needed
  • Call a crisis hotline for support (MSU Sexual Assault Program 517-372-6666)
  • Create a safe space for the survivor
  • Believe the survivor
  • Expect varied reactions including sadness
  • Don’t pry
  • Offer to connect them with resources
  • Respect privacy, do not tell others about their assault
  • Support the survivor’s decisions, do not pressure them to do or not do something

Ways to Take Action

If you believe you are witnessing a potentially dangerous situation, these are some ways to intervene.

  • Ask, “Is everything okay?”
  • Ask, “Is this person bothering you?”
  • Ask, “Do you have friends here? Do you want me to find them for you?”
  • If you saw them come in with friends, find their friends and alert them
  • Tell the bar staff, and ask them for help
  • Interrupt the situation by asking where the bathroom is

Deescalate the situation if possible


Confidential Resources:

If you or someone you know needs assistance, contact the following confidential resources:

MSU Safe Place



MSU Sexual Assault Program

517-355-3551 (program)

517-372-6666 (24/7 crisis line)

E.V.E. – End Violent Encounters

(517) 372-5572 (crisis line)

Reporting Contacts:

Office of Institutional Equity:

(517) 353-3922

4 Olds Hall

 Off Campus:

East Lansing Police

(517) 337-7372

On Campus:

MSU Police 

(517) 355-2221