Action and Reaction: The Impact of Consequences of Intervening in Situations of Interpersonal Violence

Elizabeth A. Moschella, Victoria L. Banyard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Previous research has examined barriers to helping in situations involving interpersonal violence, though little has investigated the outcomes of interventions that actually do take place. The purpose of the present study was to explore how consequences that bystanders experienced in helping situations varied by characteristics of the incident, including the type of interpersonal violence (i.e., harassing comment, dating violence, unwanted sexual advances, and controlling behavior) and the bystander’s relationship to the victim and perpetrator. We also examined whether these outcomes impacted the likelihood that bystanders would help again. Participants (n = 1,391) were recruited from a university psychology subject pool and Amazon Mechanical Turk during fall 2016. They completed online or in-person surveys consisting of quantitative measures. Descriptive statistics showed that bystanders experienced both positive (e.g., positive reactions from the victim) and negative consequences (e.g., negative reactions from others) after helping. Analyses of variance revealed that helping in instances of dating violence was associated with more negative consequences, while helping in situations of unwanted sexual advances was associated with more positive consequences. Regression analyses showed that bystanders were more likely to help again when they experienced more positive and less negative feelings about their actions. Analyses of variance demonstrated that when the victim was a close friend, bystanders reported more positive consequences and desire to help again. However, bystanders reported more negative reactions from the perpetrator when the perpetrator was a stranger. Implications for adapting intervention programming to promote the likelihood that bystanders will help in future situations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)NP3820-NP3843
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


  • dating violence
  • harassment
  • intervention
  • sexual assault


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