The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, along with the Utah Department of Health and the Center for Women and Children in Crisis presented resources, information and scenarios for bystander intervention on Tuesday at the Fulton Library Lecture Hall.
Student for Choice UVU, Spectrum UVU and the UVU Women’s Success Center co-hosted the event.
The training presented by Martin Liccardo, the men’s engagement specialist with the Violence and Injury Prevention program at the state health department, focused on how to intervene safely, especially in situations involving harassment and assault.
Liccardo began the training by discussing ‘diffusion of responsibility’ theory, the tendency toward inaction when others are present. Liccardo also took time to discuss cultural conditions such as rape culture, stigma, biases/ judgmental attitudes, all of which allow for and promote harassment and sexual assault.
According to Liccardo, a cultural shift needs to occur in the way people view and talk about gender, sex and sexuality. He stressed that people need to be more deliberate in talking about sexual activity and gaining consent.
“We are more comfortable having sex than talking about it,” Liccardo said.
In addition to trying to prevent physical harassment and assault, Liccardo repeatedly referenced people feeling safe, and certain culturally accepted behavior and attitudes can often take that away from people.
Liccardo continued by providing guidelines and tools to aid in bystander intervention and then presented scenarios for practice. He expressed that intervening is difficult and complex, but that taking action will become easier with the correct tools, knowledge and experience.
The training attracted students from BYU and Salt Lake Community College as well as those from UVU.
Tyler Clancy, a sophomore in family services at BYU, attended the training to take action and to assume responsibility for the world around him. The training is an opportunity for men like Clancy to address what was described by Liccardo as a “men’s violence issue”.
Clancy has been involved with athletics for much of his life and he believes that the “machismo” that can develop in all-male sports teams contributes to the occurrence of harassment and assault.
“I think that athletics, both in the world around me as I see in the news – some of these big cases like the Stanford swimmer guy, the Duke lacrosse team—and then in my own life I’ve seen habits or mentality towards women that I don’t think is necessarily evil, but I think that it could lead to bad things,” Clancy said. “I think we need to change that.”