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Owls in ACTION: Bystander Intervention

Owls in ACTION: Bystander Intervention empowers our campus community to take ACTION to prevent harm.

This program focuses on mental health and intimate partner violence (dating and domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault). These issues affect all people—even bystanders.

A bystander is a witness with power: 
the power to make a difference and enact change.  

Sometimes bystanders are directly involved or have observed a concerning situation and sometimes they're made aware through a friend, family member, or acquaintance. They may see something happen, hear about it from another, or view it online. No matter the circumstance, bystanders have the power to step in to prevent violence or mental health issues from occurring or escalating. 

Learning to recognize warning signs prepares us all to be proactive, promote wellness, and know what to do in potentially high-risk situations. It prepares us to take ACTION when someone needs help. Remember, helping can be a small thing that makes a big difference and if everyone consistently does small things to help one another, the actions together build a supportive, healthy, and safe community. 

Not sure what to do? 

It's a common experience to feel like you should help, yet something prevents you from taking action. You may feel afraid, worry that you're wrong about the situation or may get someone in trouble, be concerned about jeopardizing a relationship, maybe others around you aren't taking the situation seriously, or you're unsure of the safe steps to take. This is why it's important to know, in advance, the many ways to take ACTION so you're ready if a situation arises. 

Confidential Help Resources

For Intimate Partner Violence 
The Sexual Assault Spouse Abuse Resource Center, Inc.
(SARC) 24-Hour Help Line: 410.836.8430

Make a Title IX Report
Title IX Coordinator Dr. Jacqueline Jackson,
Vice President for Student Success
410.836.2233 |

For Mental Health 
Onsite Counselor
To schedule an appointment, call 410.583.2222
and tell them you're a Harford student.  

For All Situations 
Share your concerns about someone’s mental health or situation with our CARE team by submitting a Harford Cares Referral Form. A member of our Student Intervention and Prevention team will reach out to the person. 

Request a Presentation
Complete the Owls in ACTION Presentation Request Form
or contact Dawn Volkart: 


Each letter in the word ACTION provides a different way to intervene in a situation that involves mental health, sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, or stalking. 


Assess if the situation is high risk and decide if it is better to get help from someone in a position of authority, or to intervene.

For all situations 

  • Take a moment to breathe. It's very common to feel afraid or freeze up because the situation reminds you of other intense experiences you have had. 
  • Identify possible intervention strategies, resources, and support you may need as you help the people in the situation. 

Talk with the person who is experiencing situations of concern about what is concerning you or call out the person doing harm. 

For Intimate Partner Violence  
When you feel unsure about whether harm is occurring, check in to get more information. 

  • Ask if the person is ok or if there is anything you can do to help. 
  • Call people out. Say, "Hey, that’s not OK here," or "We don’t do that here." 
  • Tell the person potentially doing harm or being harmed what you have observed and why you are concerned. 

For Mental Health 
When you feel unsure if someone is struggling, check in to get more information. 

  • Choose to connect with someone you’re concerned about. Listen nonjudgmentally and offer hope by directing them towards resources.  
  • Ask questions to get more clarity about the situation. Begin with specific details about something you have observed.  Use “I” statements and express your concern and empathy. 
  • Ask the person if they are thinking about suicide. 
  • In a situation where someone is putting another person down or making someone uncomfortable, ask the person being harmed if they are OK or if there is anything you can do to help. You can also call out the person doing harm by saying, "That’s not OK. " 

Delegate to the people around you. 

For Intimate Partner Violence  

  • Ask a friend to help you have a tough conversation with someone. 
  • Work with someone close by to separate those who are arguing or are at risk of engaging in nonconsensual sex. 

For Mental Health 

  • Ask a friend to help you have a tough conversation with someone. 
  • Talk to the person's friends about your concerns and collaborate on a plan to intervene.
  • If you know someone who has experienced a similar issue, have them talk to the person. 

Create an opportunity to deescalate a situation or to help someone get away from harm. 

For Intimate Partner Violence 

  • Break a few social rules. Do something random that draws attention away from the situation. 
  • Pretend that you are lost, drop or spill something, or make up an excuse to talk privately with the person being harmed. 

For Mental Health

  • Do something random that draws attention away from the situation. 
  • Engage the person in conversation about something unrelated to the issue
  • If safe to do so, remove items that may cause harm   

Identify concerning actions that you are witnessing so that you can tell someone else. 

For Intimate Partner Violence 

  • Write down license plate numbers or take note of what is happening. 
  • Show the person doing harm that they are being watched. Sometimes a long, silent stare can make someone stop what they are doing. 

For Mental Health

  • Write down warning signs—changes in or unusual behavior—with the date and time.  
  • In a situation where someone is doing harm to someone else, show the person doing harm that they are being watched. Sometimes a long, silent stare can make someone stop what they are doing. 

Reach out to others for help. There are people in the spaces where the situation is happening that have authority to take action. There are also a lot of people in our campus community who are trained to help with mental health and in situations of sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking. 

For Intimate Partner Violence 

  • Tell the host of a party or the owner of an establishment what is happening and that you need their help doing something about it. 
  • Call The Sexual Assault Spouse Abuse Resource Center (SARC) for 24-hour confidential support at 410.836.8430. 
  • Call campus Public Safety’s emergency 24-hour line at 443.412.2272. 
  • Contact the Title IX Coordinator:   
  • Review the Confidential Help RESOurCES above. 

For Mental Health
Reach out to others for help. There are lots of people in our campus community—faculty/staff, the CARE team, public safety, law enforcement—who are trained to help. 

  • Submit a Harford Cares Referral Formon OwlNet 
  • Get campus faculty and staff involved  
  • Call 911 or Public Safety (x2272) if the person poses an immediate threat to themselves or others. 
  • Call the Harford Crisis Response Team at 1.800.NEXTSTEP
  • Utilize the Crisis Text Line, Text “Hello” to 741741
  • Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 9-8-8 

Be Proactive

We do not have to wait for the warning signs to show up in our lives to be able to do something about it. We can let others know what we stand for by the way we talk, what we share in our conversations and on social media, and how we behave in our spaces. 

At Harford Community College, we place a high value on helping one another. We hope that when someone new steps foot on our campus — either a new student, a new employee, or a visitor — they will know harm is not tolerated here and that everyone does their part to care and look out for one another. 

The list below contains a few  things you can do right now to let others know you care about these issues


Follow Owls in ACTION on Instagram: @harfordcc_owls_in_action. We also suggest the following ways to be proactive on social media. 

Follow national organizations
working to end intimate partner violence: 

advocating for mental health issues:

Share content about the importance of healthy relationships and promoting mental health.

Like and share a news story or a video about bystander intervention on the platforms where you are most active. Examples: That Girl At the Bar (Curley Street, India, 2017), Active Bystander (UN Women Asia and the Pacific, 2015).

Change your profile picture or background in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2021) or in May for Mental Health Awareness Month (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2022) . 

Include an inspiring quote or something that expresses your values in the tagline of your email or away message. 


Host a discussion about a film, podcast, or book that explores topics related to mental health or sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, or stalking. 

Organize a group to participate in community events hosted by organizations like SARC, such as Walk-a-Mile in Her Shoes®, or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, such as the Out of the Darkness Walk.  

Request a presentation for your class or group gathering to learn more about taking ACTION in situations of potential harm. 

Decorate your office, room, laptop, or water bottle with messages that promote mental wellness and respect in relationships.

Get Help

The resources listed below provide support to those in our campus community who are affected by mental health, sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking. 


For Intimate Partner Violence  

The Sexual Assault Spouse Abuse Resource Center, Inc. (SARC) 24 hour help line: 410.836.8430 

Sexual Assault Forensic Exam at Harford Memorial Hospital Free, confidential, 24-hour medical care 
501 South Union Avenue, Havre de Grace 443.843.5500 

Sexual Assault Legal Institute (SALI)
Legal services for survivors of sexual violence and toll-free hotline: 877.496.7254 


Harford’s Onsite/Remote Counseling Free short-term counseling for enrolled students: 410.583.2222 

Klein’s Family Crisis Center  Support for mental health and substance abuse issues: 800.639.8783 or 800.NEXT.STEPS 

KeyPoint Health Services Counseling: 443.625.1600 (Aberdeen Outpatient Mental Health) 

Upper Bay Counseling and Support Counseling: 410.996.3450 



For Intimate Partner Violence  

National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN)
24 hour hotline: 800.656.4673 or chat online 

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1.800.799.7233, chat online, en Español 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) 

Victim Connect Resource Center
Confidential referrals for crime victims, including stalking 
Chat line: 855.484.2846 | 12–5 PM or chat online 


Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988 

The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States. 

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Health Line SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. 800.662.HELP (4357) 


For Intimate Partner Violence 
Reporting at Harford Community College 
Contact the Title IX Coordinator: 

Policy information: Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedure

(2021) Code of conduct information: Student Rights and Responsibilities (2020) 

Public Safety:
Emergency 24-Hour line: 410.459.9517 

Reporting to Law Enforcement 

Call 911 for immediate assistance.
Contact the
Harford County Sheriff's Office 

Southern Precinct 
1305 Pulaski Highway, Edgewood, MD 21040 

Northern Precinct 
3726 Norrisville Road, Jarrettsville MD 21084 

Reporting at Harford Community College 

Submit a Harford Cares Referral Form and a member of our Student Intervention and Prevention Team will reach out. 

If suicidal or homicidal, call 911 for immediate assistance. 

Department of Public Safety:
Emergency 24-Hour line: 410.459.9517 


For Intimate Partner Violence 
The following places provide support to those in our campus community who are affected by sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking. 

Statistics about sexual assault (National Sexual Violence Resource Center) 

Sexual assault on college campuses (Office on Women's Health)

Stalking prevention and awareness resources (SPARC)

Bystander tips and scenarios (No More) 

The relationship spectrum (Love Is Respect) 

10 signs of a healthy relationship (One Love) 

For Mental Health 

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 

Warning Signs for Mental Health Distress 

Warning Signs and Symptoms for Mental Illness 

31 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health 

18 Ways to Build Mental Wellness