Bystanders’ intentions to help in intimate partner violence and sexual assault situations: A cross-cultural study


Gender-based violence (GBV), particularly intimate partner violence (IPV) and non-partner sexual violence (NPSV), is a widespread and preventable problem. This issue affects not only individuals but also communities and entire societies. The bystander approach has shown promise as an intervention to prevent GBV by engaging community members. Using an ecological lens, this cross-cultural study sought to deepen our understanding of how different individual, relational, community, and societal factors may correlate with bystanders’ intentions to help a friend or stranger in situations of IPV and NPSV. The study involved 1,128 university students from Italy (n=333), Brazil (n=303), and Canada (n=492). Results show that Italian university students reported a lower intention to help a friend or stranger. Despite some differences, findings for each subgroup indicate that peer-helping norms, bystander self-efficacy in dealing with violence, and knowledge/training about GBV were crucial factors associated with intentions to help a friend (i.e., the first and second variables) or a stranger (i.e., the first and third variables). These data have important implications for bystander preventive programs. They should make individuals aware of the correlation between the peer-helping norms and their intentions to help in GBV situations to develop responsible and competent student communities toward GBV. This prevention strategy should also provide knowledge about GBV and build skills and self-efficacy for coping with violence suffered or perpetrated by a friend or stranger.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v10i2p25

Keywords: bystander intervention, bystander’s self-efficacy, interpersonal violence, IPV prevention, SV prevention, peer norms


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