UMass Dartmouth Assistant Dean of Students Juli Parker and victim educator from the college’s center for women, gender and sexuality, Kendra Pereira held a workshop called “Bystanders Ending LGBT* Violence” Thursday afternoon as part of the UConn Rainbow Center’s Out to Lunch Lecture Series.
“As people who identify as both queer, we believe its important to help those who are being harmed,” Parker said. “You can be a bystander, but we want you to be an active bystander.”
Parker, who writes a weekly blog called “The Feminist Critic” and Northeastern graduate student Pereira mainly talked about the Bystander Effect, which states that the greater number of people present watching something, the less likely people will do something to step in to intervene. While bringing up instances of witnessed assault, such as the the Kitty Genovese case, when multiple witnesses to a woman’s stabbing did not help, Parker and Pereira also asked the audience to think about the possibility of taking action instead of simply bearing witness to violence.
The presentation engaged attendants in a live role play amongst other activities, where they had to listen to different scenarios around them witnessing warm, write down personal barriers to them intervening in each case and throw down the sheet of paper across the room. Each person in the audience has to then pick up each piece and talk about the barrier.
One case had a student write how they didn’t want to “meddle” in a case where a woman was screaming as she was being dragged by another man at a party. Another one stated that “they didn’t know the context,” while a third even had someone state that being a victim of domestic violence freezes them when they’re confronted with witnessing physical violence. A sheet of paper even said that in the case of hearing someone use a homophobic slur, they wouldn’t do anything because it’s “just slang”.
Both Parker and Pereira also mentioned three different types of approaches for bystanders: acting directly to confront either the target of violence or the perpetrator, distracting either one or delegating other people to help actively intervene. While giving students a sheet explaining all three processes, the speakers also gave them additional scenarios, asking them how they would deal with it.
As far as UConn’s concerned, students agreed that though the university was overall a safe place for LGBTQ people, there are problems contributing to people being inactive bystanders. Audience members nodded their heads when discussing how the sports culture influence at UConn could contribute to passivity towards violence against women and LGBTQ members.