At a Saturday workshop, titled “Inspiring Action,” participants listened to and reflected on real-life stories of bystander intervention when dealing with sexual misconduct.
In the event, which was a part of a curriculum led by Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellow Elsa Marie D’Silva, 10 students engaged in workshops on empowerment, self-care and interventions when dealing with sexual misconduct. The workshops also included conversations with staff from the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education Center (SHARE). Two iterations of the hourlong workshop were held at the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media.
“We want students to understand what could be termed as sexual misconduct and then be able to think about what they can do in response to it-to be an active bystander,” D’Silva said. “We can prevent sexual misconducts from happening through small interventions, but many people just don’t do it because they are scared of the consequences. So we want to change that mindset. The greater harm lies in not taking action.”
The workshop relayed real-life stories of bystander intervention through a collection of voice recordings. The collection included the experiences of Yale students, as well as women from all ages and backgrounds. Specifically, the recordings included a story of a woman who called the police after a fight, another who pretended to be someone’s friend to save them from being harassed by a stranger and a third woman who called a taxi for an intoxicated person to ensure that they could reach home safely.
“We wanted to explore the mode of sharing stories through audio. We wanted to understand what would happen to participants when they get to hear these stories through people’s voices,” D’Silva said.
The workshop invited participants to engage with each other by sharing answers to four prompts: “After listening, I am feeling …,” “One word to describe my listening experience,” “What strategies for intervention have worked for you?” and “I am inspired to ….” Each wrote his or her answers on posters. On one poster for the prompt “One word to describe my listening experience,” participants wrote words such as “unsurprising,” “familiar,” “resonance,” “empowering” and “motivating.”
Susie Beyl ’20, a World Fellow student liaison who helped plan the workshop, told the News her involvement in the project allowed her to understand the meaning and application of bystander intervention.
“By hearing all these real-life examples of bystander intervention and how we can all help in small ways, I realized that these are all things I could potentially do in real life. It’s just as easy as asking ‘Are you good?’” she said.
She emphasized that sharing the stories through voice recordings was important in “giving the stories a human element.”
Workshop participants interviewed by the News echoed Beyl’s remarks, noting that the recordings made them feel empowered to intervene if they witness sexual misconduct.
Zak Rosen ’20 said the recordings reminded him of his own experience intervening when he saw a woman who seemed uncomfortable speaking with a man. He commended the way that these stories are available and said that the workshop made it feel like intervening was “possible” and the tools for intervention “aren’t that complicated.”
Another participant, Juliette Dietz ’19, said that she saw this workshop as a way to tackle sexual misconduct at the individual level.
“Although we often focus on large-scale change like a change in sexual misconduct policies, something like this that directly reaches out to students and motivates them to intervene to prevent sexual misconduct from happening in the first place is really important,” she said.
This planning of the workshop was a collaborative effort by D’Silva, her student liaisons, SHARE, the Office of Gender and Campus Culture and the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media.
Ayumi Sudo | firstname.lastname@example.org