Bringing In The Bystander


Bringing In The Bystander addresses sexual and relationship violence by:

  • raising awareness among bystanders about the pervasiveness of these forms of violence,
  • providing bystanders with a language and an analysis to identify behaviours on a continuum of violence, and
  • empowering them to intervene appropriately, empathically, and safely.


Bringing In The Bystander asserts that: “Everyone in the community has a role to play in ending sexual violence.” It fosters “pro-social” bystander behaviour before, during, and after an incident of sexual and/or relationship violence and a “community of responsibility” among trained bystanders, contributing to a positive cultural shift in participating institutions and the broader society.


It is a powerful and unique model that brings together and engages diverse individuals and communities on the necessary collaborative work of violence prevention. Further, it highlights a peer approach, as those facilitating the program and those trained model responsibility to others in their communities.


Bringing In The Bystander is an evidence-based program developed by researchers and practitioners from Prevention Innovations at the University of New Hampshire. It has been implemented at various post-secondary institutions in the U.S. and Canada, with a high school program currently being piloted in the U.S.


Evaluation results show the effectiveness of the Bringing In The Bystander program for increasing participants’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours regarding responses to sexual and relationship violence.


Implementation in Nova Scotia Post-Secondary Schools and the Broader Community


Bringing In The Bystander was first brought to Nova Scotia through the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre’s project Preventing Violence Against Women at St. Francis Xavier University in September of 2013. Since 2013, over 2,000 diverse participants (youth, students, adults, teachers, professionals, and community members from Yarmouth to Sydney, Charlottetown to Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation) have received this training. Participants noted the unequivocal value of this program for their respective communities.


Various organizations and governmental departments, such as the Sisters of Saint Martha, Students Nova Scotia, and Nova Scotia Crime Prevention have supported the program. The demand for this program has grown across Atlantic Canada. The Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre Sexual Assault Services and St. Francis Xavier University have been leaders in this program in the country. In the Maritimes, Saint Mary’s University, University of Prince Edward Island, and Dalhousie University and supported training for their campuses.


Secondary Schools – Strait Regional School Board


In 2015, the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre Sexual Assault Services and the Strait Regional School Board adapted the Bringing In The Bystander program for grade 12 students and conducted four successful pilots. Sixty-eight (68) grade 12 students participated in the program over spring and fall 2015 at St. Mary’s Education Centre, Sherbrooke, the Strait Area Education Recreation Centre, Port Hawkesbury, and the East Antigonish Education Centre, Monastery. Currently, the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and the Strait Regional School Board are working to extend this training across all the grade 12 classes in the upcoming school year.


Feedback from Grade 12 Pilots at the Strait Regional School Board

  • “This was the first time I received detailed information about consent.”
  • “I learned more about what rape actually is.”
  • “I can recognize where pro-social bystanders are in media and movies, also recognizing the violence [that can happen] in relationships.”
  • “I am more comfortable with intervening in situations with friends or acquaintances.”
  • “There is more recognition now of [risky] situations than before.”
  • “I used the information I learned with friends in giving advice and telling others to stop. I provided guidance and support for people.”
  • “I have used the information for myself in changing and reflecting on what is appropriate or not.”
  • “This was helpful and good to get into high school. People don’t know what they are in for [in university/college]!”
  • “Could this be mandatory for all grade 12s?”




Justice Minister Peter MacKay launches Bringing In The Bystander violence intervention program, highlights work of Preventing Violence Against Women at StFX – St. Francis Xavier University



Saint Mary’s Twitter scandal prompts consent talks – The CBC



Program to target sexualized violence – The Chronicle Herald



For more information about Bringing In The Bystander and/or to organize the program in your school/organization/community, please contact the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre Sexual Assault Services at 902-863-6221.

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