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Intervention: Helping to Prevent Sexual Assault


There are many ways that you can contribute to a climate that supports prevention and encourages healthy, respectful interactions. Prevention can take many forms, including direct approaches, such as active intervention, where you actively intervene if you notice that a situation could escalate to sexual assault. You can learn more about intervention below.

However, activities like talking with your peers about healthy relationships and consent and modeling respectful interactions can also be a form of prevention. These conversations can positively influence beliefs and attitudes about healthy relationships and sexual violence. Individual efforts can add up to positively impact communities and societies, to reduce and eventually eliminate sexual assault. 

The reality is that the vast majority of people do not commit sexual assault. These crimes are perpetrated by only a few, which means that our Navy community has the power to end sexual violence.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. The Navy is encouraging its Sailors to engage in active intervention to help prevent sexual assault and other destructive behaviors. This section contains basic information and tips. For additional information please refer to our Sexual Assault Resources page.

Active Intervention Strategies:

Individuals who engage in active intervention strategies take the initiative to help someone who may be targeted for a sexual assault by a predator. Those who actively intervene also take the initiative to PREVENT someone from becoming a perpetrator of crime. It is not limited to stepping in to stop a crime in progress; rather, these steps are also "early intervention" — stepping in before the crime occurs.

Direct intervention: Direct interventions involve speaking directly to those involved in the situation. Through direct intervention, you can communicate that a particular behavior is not acceptable in your command, base or community. Examples:

  • Ask if everything is alright.
  • Name the concerning behavior and state that you think they could possibly cross a line.
  • Tell the aggressor to leave the potential target alone or to step away from the situation.
  • Pull aside the potential target, let them know you are concerned, and/or ask if they would like any help getting home safely.

Enlist Others to Help: Enlisting other trusted people can take a variety of forms, in which you diffuse a potentially risky situation by indirect means. Examples:

  • Go find the friends of those involved and urge the friends to help remove them from the situation.
  • At restaurants and bars, tell a bartender, security staff or manager that you are concerned about a potentially risky situation. 

Distraction: Distraction is a form of indirect intervention that can help diffuse a potentially risky situation by creating a diversion to interrupt the behavior. Examples:

  • Tell them that their friends are looking for them.
  • Ask the aggressor an unrelated question, such as "How do you get to the commissary?" or "Do you know when this place closes?" This may give the potential target the opportunity to leave the situation.
  • Make up an excuse to help the potential target get away, such as "I think I lost my phone. Can you help me look for it?"  

Protocol: If you are unsure of how to safely intervene, or the situation escalates, seek the help of your chain of command or law enforcement.

Your personal safety is very important. Before you decide to actively intervene in a situation, consider the following:

  • Is there a problem or risky situation?
  • Is there someone who needs help?
  • Do I see myself and/or others as part of the solution?
  • How can I keep myself safe in this situation?
  • In what ways can I avoid harm in this situation?
  • What resources and options are available if I intervene?
  • Who else might be able to assist me in this situation?
  • What are the pros and cons of taking action?   


Sailors and their adult family members generally have options to report sexual assault.

Click to find out more.  

For more information on prevention , please visit the Department of Defense (DoD) Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) website. 

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