Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2013

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Victoria Banyard


An innovation in the prevention of sexual assault and relationship violence on college campuses capitalizes on the motivation of bystanders to help stop the crime. Specifically, research on bystander helping shows factors that make it more or less likely that bystanders will take action: sharing a common social group with the victim, perceiving the severity of the situation, concerns about peer reactions and personal safety. While these studies illustrate the reasons bystanders do or do not step in, detailed descriptions of this helping process have yet to be examined. I content coded 20 in-depth qualitative interviews of student’s personal experiences helping or not helping in a situation involving risk for sexual assault or relationship abuse. Results showed that the most common facilitators of helping are: knowing the victim, personal variables, situational variables, and safety nets. The most common barriers are lack of connection to the victim, negative personal consequences, and risk identification issues.