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What Role Can I Play in Helping Prevent Sexual Assault

Though only a potential perpetrator can prevent sexual assault by not committing the act, there are things you can do to help keep your shipmates safe.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Talk to someone who understands what you’re going through.

Help is just a call or click away via the DoD Safe Helpline: 1-877-995-5247 and

The Navy is encouraging its Sailors to engage in active bystander intervention to prevent sexual assault. This section contains basic information and tips. For additional information please refer to the Sexual Assault Resources section of this site.

  • Active bystanders take the initiative to help someone who may be targeted for a sexual assault by a predator.
  • Active bystanders also take the initiative to prevent someone from becoming a perpetrator of crime.
  •  Intervention is not limited to stepping in to stop a crime in progress; rather, these steps are also "early intervention" — stepping in before the crime occurs.

Active Bystander Intervention takes a number of forms:


Make up an excuse to help the friend get away from someone (e.g., “I think I lost my phone.   Can you help me look for it?” “I was thinking of grabbing some food, want to come with me?”).

Third Wheel

For example, if it seems like the potential perpetrator is trying to isolate the potential victim (offering him or her a ride, inviting him or her to their home, etc.) go with them.

Direct Approach
  • Talk to the potential victim to ensure he or she is doing okay.
  • Pull the potential victim aside and say you think the situation is dangerous.
  • Point out the potential perpetrator’s disrespectful behavior in a safe and respectful manner that tends to de-escalate the situation.
Involve Others
  • Recommend to a bartender or party host that potential victim or perpetrator has had too much to drink.
  • Grab a friend or two before speaking with the potential perpetrator.
  • If the situation seems to be escalating, contact law enforcement.


Your personal safety is key. Before you act, you should think about the following:

  • Is there a problem or risky situation?
  • Is there someone who needs help?
  • Do I see myself and/or others as part of the solution?
  • How can I keep myself safe in this situation?
  • In what ways can I avoid harm in this situation?
  • What resources and options are available if I intervene?
  • Who else might be able to assist me in this situation?
  • What are the pros and cons of taking action?

Military members and their adult dependents generally have the following options to report sexual assault:

  • Unrestricted Reports allow the victim to participate in the military criminal justice process.
  • Restricted Reports are kept confidential, and make services, such as medical care and counseling, available without notifying command and law enforcement.

Note: When the victim reports the crime to someone in the chain of command, a Restricted Report will no longer be an option. If you are in the individual's chain of command, you will have to report the matter. Please see your Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate (SAPR VA) for more guidance.


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