Bystander Intervention

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At Florida Atlantic University, we care about each other! When we are concerned about something, we do something about it and help out our fellow owls. We want our university to be a place where everyone takes personal responsibility for keeping it safe.

Tips for helping a friend

If you are unsure about how to help a friend, the following tips from Step Up! may be a helpful start.

Sexual Assault

Be aware of comments and behaviors from others that would indicate they were intent on having sexual intercourse even if the partner was unwilling. Notice if someone is getting ready to have sexual intercourse with a partner who is incapacitated. Don’t joke about sexual assault; as this can trivialize the severity of the behavior. Many perpetrators are unaware that what they have done is a crime. (They may say, “Yeah, that was messed up, but it was fun.”) Let perpetrators know that what they did was not right and was against the law.
If you become aware that a sexual assault has occurred or are told of an assault occurring:

  • Believe the person
  • Tell the victim it is not his or her fault
  • Be ready to listen when the individual is ready to talk but don’t pry or try to get information out of the person
  • If you learn of the perpetrator's identity, don’t suggest retaliation
  • Know available resources
  • Listen
  • Be patient

Relationship Abuse

Encourage any person in an abusive relationship to seek professional help. Think about your own safety when you approach the situation. You might want to have a friend with you for back up and help. If there is physical violence, call 911 right away. Do not touch the individuals no matter how well you may know them. Be aware of your tone of voice and volume. Stay calm. Calmly attempt to separate the individuals without putting yourself in danger. Be respectful of both individuals and their view points. Listen fully to the concerns.

Visit the Healthy Relationships MyFAU page: Healthy Relationships

Alcohol Abuse

FAU Medical Amnesty Policy

At FAU, we care about and watch out for each other. If you are concerned that a friend might be at risk for alcohol poisoning, Seek immediate assistance and take the following steps:

  • Call 911
  • Stay with the person needing assistance until help arrives
  • Be prepared to give the emergency medical personnel as much information as possible including the amount and type of alcohol and/or substances consumed.

In order to encourage students to seek prompt and appropriate attention for alcohol or any other drug intoxication, FAU has instituted a Medical Amnesty policy. This policy is to help ensure all students call for medical help for themselves or friends during alcohol, drug or other health emergencies. Under this policy, FAU waives student disciplinary action under certain conditions.

Always look out for one another and call 911 when someone needs help. You can save a life.

For more information on FAU's amnesty policy, please click here to view the policy.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is another term for alcohol overdose, which may occur when individuals
consume so much alcohol that their bodies can no longer process it fast enough. Alcohol
poisoning and overdoses are potentially lethal; the human body simply cannot tolerate or process excessive amounts of alcohol. Too many college students have died as a result of alcohol poisoning.

What Are the Signs or Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning or Overdose?

The signs or symptoms of alcohol poisoning include (not all of these need to be present):

  • Confusion or stupor
  • Vomiting while passed out, not waking up after vomiting, or incoherent while vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Breathing is slow or irregular
  • Weak pulse, very rapid pulse, or very slow pulse
  • Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin
  • Loss of consciousness: Inability to awaken a person with loud shouting, or inability of a person to remain awake for more than 2-3 minutes or to carry on a coherent conversation when awake (semi-conscious)
  • A person who has lost consciousness and cannot be awakened is in danger of dying. Help is needed immediately.

View the Substance Safety page on MyFAU: Substance Safety


LISTEN. Take it seriously. Depressive/suicidal behavior can be a cry for help. Speak with the individuals in private. Voice your concern — let them know you care. Do what you can to give the person HOPE. Encourage the individuals to get help. Offer to go with them to counseling. Review the situation with a mature and compassionate person. If suicidal, call 911: let the individuals know that you will be contacting 911. Do not leave him or her alone. Notice actions/behaviors. Be observant of any medication bottles that may be present. Separate the individuals from any weapons or firearms if possible.
What not to do:

  • Don’t assume the problem will take care of itself
  • Don’t act shocked or surprised at what the person says
  • Don’t argue or debate moral issues
  • Don’t challenge or dare the person

Check out Talk to a Therapist for more resources!


Create plans together to avoid high-risk situations and consequences. Be aware of triggers. Be aware of defined danger (i.e. mad dogging, dirty looks, someone looking for a fight). Do not try to detain angry individuals — even if they run away. Interrupt the situation. Distract the people involved. Beware of increasing aggressive behavior and try to diffuse the situation.
Remind those involved to:

  • Stop and think – Is it worth it in the long run?
  • Remove the drama
  • Remove the ego
  • Avoid Retaliation/Escalation
  • Agree with rationale but challenge the action
  • Focus on solving the problem NOT winning the “fight”
  • Don’t get caught up in the moment
  • Think of the big picture

What you should do:

  • Walk away if the situation is unsafe
  • Stay calm, cool and collected
  • Contact 911, if necessary

Disordered Eating

Talk to your friend. Focus on concerns about your friend’s health, not on weight or appearance. Encourage the individuals to be a part of social functions and reassure them that you will not pressure them to eat if they do not want to. LISTEN. Find out what other things are going on in their lives. Let them know that you will pass no judgments on them. Ask them what you can do to help make dealing with food easier. Be aware of how you talk about others’ bodies. Promote the idea that good nutrition leads to good health and increased performance. Encourage the individual to seek professional help.

  • You are not a professional and will not be able to fix the situation— however, you can offer resources and support.
  • You may be rejected. People with eating disorders often deny their problem because they are afraid to admit they have a problem. Don’t take the rejection personally, and try to end the conversation in a way that will allow you to come back to the subject at another time.

To learn more about balanced eating and additional resources, see Balanced Eating at MyFAU. 

On-Campus resources for helping a friend:

Victim Services 561-297-0500 (24 Hours)
Office of Civil Rights and Title IX  561-297-3004
Dean of Students 561-297-3542
FAU Police Department 561-297-3500
Counseling and Psychological Services 561-297-3540
Owls Care Health Promotion 561-297-1048
Sexual Health Education 561-297-1048
Student Health Services 561-297-3512
Night Owls Escort Service 561-297-6695
Student Accessability Services 561-297-3880
Military and Veteran Affairs 561-297-3547
 Last Modified 10/23/23