This is a great, fast introduction to the StepUP! Program, produced by our friends at the University of Arizona.
Does something just not quite feel right? That’s a StepUP moment – a time we can check in, feel out a situation, and make sure everyone is okay. Many times we’ll be right about a situation and will be the difference in someone’s life story. Other times we may misread a situation and THAT’S OKAY. It was still a StepUP moment because we were unsure. No matter if it turns out to be harm or not we are still sending the powerful message that violence is not acceptable and that we have each other’s backs. The risks are too high not to take 1, 3, 5 minutes to feel out a situation and check in.
Even when we recognize a StepUP moment and want to StepUP - it can be incredibly hard to do so because we experience multiple barriers (things that prevent us from taking action) that are shaped by our multiple identities, personalities, etc. Here’s some common barriers we may experience:
- Worried about personal safety
- Afraid what our friends may think
- Afraid of embarrassment
- Worried we may be wrong about a situation
- Personality Traits. Examples: Shy, don’t like conflict
- Don’t want to escalate things
- Not sure what to do
- No one else is doing anything
- Afraid of the impact it may have on our own community or seen as a traitor to our community, culture, etc.
- May be friends with the person committing the act of harm
It’s nearly impossible to just "overcome" our barriers, that's not realistic. And so we want to StepUP in ways that WORK WITH our barriers, so rather than ignoring them, OWN YOUR BARRIERS. Having barriers is okay! It means that you are aware of your own boundaries, needs, personality, and communication style. In order to do that we have to be truthful with ourselves and really think about what might come up for us when we find ourselves confronted with difficult situations.
THE GOOD NEWS: There’s just as many ways to StepUP (intervene) as there are people. It doesn't matter what we do just that we DO SOMETHING. We can get creative! Here are three main StepUP interventions that can help us reflect on what StepUP actions might be more realistic for us and address our barriers. Note: Different situations might call for different types of interventions, and some interventions can be used together.
DISTRACT - Divert their attention to something else! Stop the immediate moment and create space for someone to leave a situation or for you to further assess what's happening.
DELEGATE - Ask for help! We can ask a friend or an authority figure to StepUP with us or on their own. Getting someone else to find out what’s up and look in on the situation is still SteppingUP!
DIRECT - Be straight up! We can ask what’s going on, whether people feel comfortable, or let them know that what they are doing is not cool or unacceptable.
https://youtu.be/iUj2OHLAG3w (continue video at 4:40)
The video above demonstrates the power of our actions and that we can actually prevent harm in the moment and be the difference in someone's life. We will all witness StepUP moments (situations where there's an absence of consent) at some point or another and will have to make a choice: to do something (to StepUP) or to do nothing. When we witness a messed up situation we are already involved in it just by watching and our actions have an impact. No matter what we choose, it's important to note that we ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE for the violence that may or is happening - only those who commit acts of violence are. Violence will end when people stop harming others. However, we also know we don't live in that world yet and need to respond to the violence happening now. So until we live in a more consent centered world - there is a lot we can do to prevent harm and make clear that we do not tolerate violence. None of us are perfect and there will be times when we don't StepUP for the many reasons listed above. It doesn't make us terrible people - it makes us human. Our goal is simply to increase the amount of times we do StepUP and prevent harm by building skills and sharing strategies together.
Whether or not you StepUP, it can be really helpful to reflect on your experience. How did it impact you?
If you did not StepUP, some questions to think about:
If you did StepUP:
SteppingUP can sometimes bring up a lot of emotions. We've got to take care of ourselves! We deserve to feel good. Find the self-care practice that works for you. If you felt triggered or traumatized (vicarious trauma is a real thing!) by your experience and/or are looking for immediate support, we have local, community and identity specific organizations that have 24 hour, confidential hotline numbers and chat lines, you can find them on our resources page.