Graduate student to present on impact of bystander intervention 

Abbey Whittington, Entertainment Editor

A graduate student will be speaking about sexual violence and bystander intervention 3 p.m. Thursday in the Arcola-Tuscola Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Laura Trombley, a graduate student in college student affairs and the associate resident director for Andrews Hall, will give a presentation on these topics based on her master’s thesis paper called “The Bystander Intervention Education on Undergraduate Efficacy in Addressing Sexual Violence.”

Her master’s thesis examines the bystander intervention training at Eastern and evaluates the training’s effectiveness and how it prepares students to be confident and competent if they were to intervene in a situation of perceived sexual violence.

“If someone is at a party and they notice someone might have gotten something slipped into their drink, or if they are in their residence hall room and overhear a conflict between a couple, do they feel like, after going through the training, they are prepared and able to address what is going on?” Trombley said.

Trombley said this presentation is a preview of what she plans to examine in her future at Eastern, and she hopes to promote educational awareness around the topic in discussing how the issue of sexual assault is prevalent on college campuses.

In assessing the factors that make college campuses conducive to sexual assault, Trombley said females from ages 18 to 24 are at the highest risk of being sexually assaulted.

Trombley said in examining this information, it is important to make people aware of their own biases and to help them feel like they would be able to be an advocate in creating a safer, more positive campus climate.

“I am going to present them with simulations of scenarios and facilitate discussion around how they felt in the moment and things they did and did not notice,” Trombley said.

After going through the scenarios and discussion, Trombley will inform the audience of ways they could intervene in a real life scenario as potential third-party bystanders.

“I think that bystander intervention has a big impact in helping in addressing and reducing sexual violence,” Trombley said.

Trombley said there are often third parties who are aware of what is happening and that it is important to advocate and empower them so they do not assume someone else will address a potentially dangerous situation.

“I think in our society there is this impartiality of ‘Oh, someone is going to do something,’ and we are trying to empower people to say, ‘I’m going to be the one to say something or do something,’” Trombley said.

In addition to educating on bystander intervention, Trombley will be giving educational awareness about the societal and cultural norms that contribute to rape culture and victim blaming.

“It is a tough issue because sexual violence takes many forms. It is not just rape and sexual assault, it is relationship violence, it is domestic abuse, it is stalking,” Trombley said. “It is not just a women’s issue, it is an everyone’s issue.”

Trombley said she made her presentation interactive more than lecture based so people can feel like they have an active voice and stance in ending the issue.

The presentation will last an hour and anyone is able to attend.


Abbey Whittington can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]