Intimate partner violence- or IPV- is everywhere in the 21st century. We see it glorified all over social media, and it’s repeatedly seen in television shows, movies, books, and every other type of media that exist. While we can recognize it as wrong, it’s usually fictional; we don’t have to do anything but watch. But what should we do when we see intimate partner violence in real life? Bystander awareness is extremely important, even though it can be difficult to know just what to do when we are faced with this type of situation. Luckily, there’s an easy way to remember our options when we observe IPV- all we have to do is remember the five D’s of bystander intervention. 

The first D in bystander intervention is the direct method. The direct method is the simplest, as it consists of taking direct action and confronting the situation or abuser. While this method of bystander intervention may be simple, it can take time to do safely and may not always be the best option. It’s important to always be careful and prioritize your safety when in situations like these, especially when there is any type of violence involved. 

The second D in bystander intervention is the distraction method. This one is pretty self-explanatory, as it consists of creating a distraction to disrupt a situation all without a confrontation. This method can diffuse a situation and allow the victim to escape or look for help.

The third D in bystander intervention is the delegation method. This method consists of seeking help from those who might be more qualified to handle the situation, like the authorities, professionals, or friends. It’s important to know who you can call in IPV scenarios like these for this exact reason- a lot of the time it’s better to receive help from someone who knows what they’re doing versus trying to deal with a situation all on your own. 

The fourth D in bystander intervention is the delaying method. This method consists of waiting for the situation to blow over before checking on the victim and offering support. Sometimes, waiting until a situation has ended is the safest option for everyone, and it’s important to realize this and use patience if necessary to be as helpful as possible for the victim. 

The fifth and final D in bystander intervention is the documentation method. This method consists of taking pictures or videos of the situation instead of actively intervening. This can be extremely beneficial for the victim to get protection or justice if legal action is taken, as photo or video documentation gives the victim clear evidence to show the court. While recording, it’s important to keep everyone’s- including your own- safety in mind.

The five D’s of bystander intervention- direct, distract, delegate, delay, and document- are an amazing resource to remember if you are a bystander to intimate partner violence. Taking action in these situations is vital! While it’s most important to keep yourself safe in a situation like this, we must also be aware of our surroundings and try our best to help where we can when we observe intimate partner violence- remember, you could be the only thing standing between a victim and harm.

Written by: Breanna Smith