About Upstander Training

Upstander Training aims to develop a culture of looking out for one another on campus. It is rooted in bystander training programs, which teach people how to be proactive in helping others in need. This program aspires to create safer and more supportive campus communities. “The bystander approach offers opportunities to build communities and a society that does not allow sexual violence. It gives everyone in the community a specific role in preventing the community’s problem of sexual violence” (Banyard et al, 2004).


Continued work on this program is made possible thanks to the ‘Building an Upstander Culture to Prevent Sexual Violence at Ontario Post-Secondary Institutions’ grant from the Ontario government’s Ministry of the Status of Women (formerly the Ontario Women’s Directorate) and is supported by the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres. It integrates resources created and funded by the Ministry of the Status of Women, including Draw the Line and It’s Never Okay.


This training program is focused on using Upstander skills to help prevent sexual violence, and constitutes just one piece of a full campus sexual violence prevention and response plan. It can be included in a variety of campus learning initiatives, including orientation week, first year courses, staff and faculty training, student organizational development and team building, and other gatherings of campus community members. The statistics presented in this guide are from predominantly Canadian sources, including government research (Statistics Canada; the Ontario Ministry of the Status of Women), and are the most up-to-date statistics available at the time of printing. It is recommended that you update these statistics periodically and supplement as needed in your particular context. The purpose of this program is two-fold: to teach Upstander skills applicable to any situation wherein someone might be at risk of being harmed, and to educate participants on consent and issues of sexual violence.


The following learning outcomes demonstrate the knowledge, skills and attitudes that this training aims to instill in participants. They directly link to the five conditions required to effectively intervene as an Upstander: notice the incident, identify it as a problem, feel motivated to intervene, have the skills to intervene, and act safely. 


As a result of completing the Upstander training program, participants will:


  • Understand what constitutes sexual violence and consent.

  • Identify sexual violence when it is occurring.

  • Identify how identity and marginalization impact one’s risk for being subjected to sexual violence.

  • Understand sexual violence as a societal issue and the impact of sexual violence on communities and community members.

  • Identify links between sexually violent behaviour and a culture of sexual violence, commonly referred to as “rape culture”.

  • Empathize with individuals who have experienced sexual violence and those affected by sexual violence.

  • Safely apply Upstander intervention skills to intervene in situations of sexual violence and other situations in which a person may be at risk of being harmed.