Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

What to Do If You See Sexual Harm

Sexual harm can be prevented by building a community culture that recognizes and agrees on the necessity of consent, respect, and communication during sexual interactions.

Every member of the Oberlin College community has a responsibility to act ethically and respectfully toward other community members, and to hold peers and colleagues to that standard. There are many ways you can act to make our community safer and help prevent sex harm.

1. Trust your gut.

If a situation looks unsafe, there's a good chance it is unsafe. It might be time to intervene if someone is making another person uncomfortable, or if someone is incapacitated by drug or alcohol use.

2. Stay safe.

Don't put yourself in an unsafe situation without proper support or training. Most people who work at the college and in the Oberlin community are trained to help or provide support in dangerous situations.

  • Oberlin Police Department:
    911 (emergency) | 440-774-1061 (non-emergency)
  • Campus Safety:
    440-775-8911 (emergency) | 440-775-8444 (non-emergency)
  • Resident Assistants (RAs)

3. Intervene, if possible.

If the situation feels safe enough, intervene directly.

Check-in directly with the people involved. This can be as simple as asking, “How are you doing? Are you okay?” or giving them an opportunity to remove themselves from the situation. Example: “I have to go outside for ____. Do you want to come with me?”

Create a distraction or interrupt surrounding activity. For example, turning on the lights at a party, spilling a drink, etc. This can give someone a chance to remove themselves from the uncomfortable or unsafe situation. 

Offer someone assistance getting home. This may or may not be appropriate depending on many factors, including personal identities, state of intoxication of all involved, and your relationship to the person. Only help someone home if it feels appropriate and safe to do so. Otherwise, there are people you can call on (see above) who can help.

PRSM offers an entire workshop on bystander intervention and how to be a safe, active, and effective bystander. If you are interested in attending a workshop, or organizing one for your office, student organization, or other association, please email