Bystander Network

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Relationship Violence

Do you observe someone:

  • Get put down so that they feel ashamed?
  • Tell someone what to do, and who they can see?
  • Use alcohol or drug use as an excuse for hurting?
  • Threaten to hurt a partner or loved one?
  • Push, hit, or force someone to have sex?
  • Make someone feel bad for not wanting to have sex?
  • Accuse someone of cheating or wanting to date 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:

  • One partner 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”


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:

  • Asking, “Why me?”
  • Feeling numb
  • Blaming self
  • 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

  • Call 911 if it is an emergency
  • Access a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) at Sparrow (517-364-1000)
  • Seek medical attention if needed
  • Call someone for support
  • Say, “It’s not your fault.”
  • Say, “I believe you.”
  • Say, “I support you.”

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)


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


How to Help Someone

  • Call 911 if assault is in progress
  • Ensure safety
  • Believe the survivor
  • Be supportive
  • Expect varied reactions including sadness, anger, withdrawal, or joking.
  • Don’t pry
  • Offer to connect them with resources
  • Respect privacy
  • Support the survivor’s decisions.


Ways to Take Action

  • 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?”
  • Sit nearby.
  • Tell the bar staff, and ask them for help.

Deescalate the situation if possible.