This study sought to obtain data with the potential to guide development of violence-prevention strategies that enlist reports from “intimate bystanders,” defined as parents, siblings, partners, and friends who may be the first to suspect a loved one is at high risk of committing targeted violence, including terrorism.
The study conducted mixed qualitative-quantitative interviews with 24 law enforcement and community professionals working in targeted violence prevention and 123 community members recruited in California and Illinois. Research methods were adapted from prior studies conducted in Australia and the United Kingdom, which used hypothetical scenario-based interviews and a scenario of targeted workplace violence. Overall, intimate bystanders reported weighing numerous factors when deciding whether and how to address their concerns. Researchers organized the factors into four levels of a “Social-Ecological Model of Intimate Bystander Reporting for Targeted Violence Prevention.” The model consists of 28 factors at four levels labeled as “Individual,” “Relationships,” “Community,” and “Societal.” To represent the multiple stages of intimate bystanders’ decisionmaking and possible actions, researchers developed the “ICARE Model," which indicates that much of the intimate bystander’s decisionmaking and possible actions do not involve or depend upon law enforcement. They are often self-directed or involve other community practitioners, many of whom are not trained in responding to targeted violence or terrorism. It also identifies the key questions that intimate bystanders face at various stages of their decisionmaking. Recommendations pertain to what communities can do to educate and facilitate intimate bystanders’ in identifying symptoms and reporting appropriately friends and loved ones with high potential for violence. 3 figures, 1 table, a listing of project products, and 3 references