Waves of Change

Bystander Intervention Program: Creating Campus Responses to Sexual Violence

The Waves of Change Bystander Intervention (Waves of Change) Program is a peer-facilitated, violence prevention program offered in partnership with universities and colleges across Nova Scotia.

About the program

Waves of Change takes a prevention approach to sexualized violence on campus. Participants are trained to recognize a range of sexually violent scenarios that commonly occur on post-secondary campuses. They learn various techniques to intervene either as bystanders or as a community to interrupt or stop sexual violence, support survivors, hold those who cause harm accountable for their actions, and transform the culture that allows violence to happen. The Waves of Change Program draws on participants’ existing skills, knowledge, and creativity to facilitate broader strategies for social change

Waves of Change is offered in a series of five modules that build on each other. As participants move through the trainings, their knowledge and understanding are deepened. Modules include the following:

Module 1. Basic bystander:
This training module introduces participants to the issue of sexualized violence on campus. Participants learn about the law and sexualized violence in Nova Scotia. Participants are introduced to the concept of bystander intervention and taught various intervention techniques.

Module 2. Alcohol and sex:
This training module takes a harm reduction approach to the issue of alcohol-facilitated sexualized violence. Participants learn about the various ways that alcohol and drugs can be used by perpetrators to facilitate sexual violence, as well as the risks in properly negotiating consent when under the influence. They learn how to plan and participate in saf(ER) parties, gatherings, relationships, and hookups.  They learn how to spot patterns of boundary crossing behaviour when alcohol/drugs are involved and practice strategies to address those who cause harm. This training is particularly useful for campus bar and security staff, as well as residence staff, and anyone living in a “party” house or residence.

Module 3. Advanced bystander intervention:
This training module goes more in-depth into the issue of sexualized violence on campus paying particular attention to the ways that power and identity can impact both how we experience sexualized violence and how we intervene as bystanders or community members. Participants learn how to understand sexualized violence on campus from an intersectional feminist approach. They learn various strategies for intervention in contexts where the power between those causing harm and those intervening is particularly uneven. Participants learn how to practice allyship and to centre the experiences and voices of marginalized groups or individuals in their interventions, as well as how to act in solidarity with survivors of campus sexualized violence.

Module 4. Creating communities of accountability:
This training module is especially useful for and directed to pre-existing groups or communities, such as a sports team, residences, the campus 2SLGBTQQIA+ community, a particular department of study, or a group of activists.   Participants learn the principles and goals of community accountability. Participants work together to generate their own understanding of what a safe and inclusive community should look like and come up with strategies to make that vision a reality. This training teaches participants how to recognize when someone in your group or community is causing harm and how begin   to direct that person towards more accountable behaviour. Participants learn strategies for supporting and honouring survivors in their community or group.

Module 5. Creating social change:
This training module takes a broader historical and cultural approach to understanding the root causes of sexualized violence on campus. Participants learn about the various ways that our culture can support and encourage  sexualized violence. Participants work together to come up with various strategies to effect cultural, social, and political change on campus and in broader society. Participants learn how to build networks of solidarity, how to creatively  get their message out to broad audiences, and how to generate and maintain momentum when pushing for social change.