The 3 Ds of Sexual Assault Prevention

In the past, sexual assault prevention has focused on the victim or the perpetrator. However, training must also focus on the bystander.

In the past, sexual assault prevention has focused on the victim or the perpetrator. According to Dorothy Edwards who is executive director of Green Dot, which provides training on preventing sexual violence, training must also focus on the bystander.

Related Article: Preventing and Responding to Campus Sexual Assaults

Students, faculty and staff can intervene in potentially harmful situations using one of the three Ds:

  • Direct: “In some situations, people feel comfortable directly approaching it,” she claims. “So for example, if I see someone leaving with a young woman who looks drunk, a direct approach might be to go up to her and say, ‘Hey, I’m a little bit concerned. Do you need a ride?’”
  • Delegate: Edwards says that some bystanders are too wary or shy to approach a potentially violent situation directly, but can diffuse a situation by locating the friends of the person who might be in danger or contacting the police.
  • Distract: “A favorite story I tell a lot is about a guy who saw one of his buddies taking a girl upstairs at a party,” Edwards says. “[The girl] seemed too drunk to be going upstairs, and so the guy called after his buddy and said ‘Hey, your car is getting towed.’” When the man went to check on his car, the woman’s friends intervened and took her home.

Administrators can reduce the likelihood of violence by:

  • Making prevention a priority: “If a university president makes it clear violence prevention is a priority, people will comply,” Edwards adds.
  • Talking about sexual violence: “One of the important areas of influence [a college president has] is they’re often a public mouthpiece and can use their platform to talk about the importance of this issue.”
  • Ensuring adequate funding: “Finding adequate funding to support enforcement…will ensure enforcement can happen quickly and effectively.”
  • Implementing good policies: “The leadership on a campus has to make it clear that victims will be supported, you will get support services and your reports will be taken seriously.”

For more information on Green Dot, visit

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