How to be an Upstander

When encountering a difficult situation, people find themselves wanting to intervene, but not knowing where to start. Some common reasons for being hesitant to engage include trying to avoid confrontation, being unsure of how to take action, or not wanting to assume personal responsibility. By reading this page, you will learn how to become an upstander, or an individual who is willing to step up and take action to assist others.


The 3 D’s

In any situation, it is important to understand your environment and the potential dangers or obstacles in it. You must evaluate all potential plans and implement the most appropriate intervention strategy. Your safety is important as well, since you must be safe before you’re able to help others. Below are three approaches you can take to intervene.



A direct intervention takes a head on approach, typically involving direct communication with the parties involved. 

Ex.) Confronting the person putting drugs in someone’s drink and informing the person whose drink is being drugged.



If you don’t feel comfortable with confrontation, try asking someone else for help. Involving others will make them more aware of the situation as well.  

Ex.) Asking your friend or bartender to confront the person putting drugs in others’ drinks and to inform person whose drink is being drugged.



Lastly, try diffusing the situation by diverting people’s attention to other events. Distractions are useful in removing people indirectly from potentially harmful situations. 

Ex.) “Accidentally” knocking into the person holding a drugged drink and spilling it.



Some potential circumstances in which intervention could be necessary include:

Drugged/Tampered Drinks

When at a party, bar, or any other social situation, it is important to report any suspicious behavior around drinks to prevent danger and harm towards those who are drinking.

Alcohol Poisoning

If a friend or someone you know is in need of medical attention as a result of overusing a substance, be an upstander by calling for help. The UC Davis Aggies Act protects individuals under 21 in the case of alcohol or drug-related medical emergencies.

Sexual Assault

Regardless if alcohol is involved, navigating successful communication and consent is necessary and important. Stepping in when someone is not providing their consent can help prevent an unsafe situation.