Written By: Kim Stuart
If you’ve walked around campus this past month, you may have seen something about Green Dot. But what is Green Dot, exactly? Green Dot is an on-campus initiative that is working to change the culture surrounding power-based personal violence. Power-based personal violence includes sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking. Recognizing the different forms that these types of violence take is vital in creating a society where everyone feels safe and welcome.
In the past, the burden of preventing sexual violence has been placed on the victim. Green Dot’s goal is to start a proactive approach to ending sexual violence through sparking conversations about the reality of sexual violence. This collaborative mission is exemplified best in Green Dot’s motto: “No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.”
This initiative can be found in schools across the nation, hoping to one day create a world without power-based personal violence. In May of 2017, JMU began the Green Dot initiative through the University Health Center’s The Well. Now, students have the resources to learn how to recognize the signs of power-based personal violence, when they should get involved, and how to do it.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), more than 50 percent of sexual violence that occurs on college campuses take place between August and November. During this time, it is vital to be able to recognize the signs of power-based personal violence. We all play a part in creating a safe environment on campus, but how do we know when a situation becomes unsafe?
- Trust your gut. If your instincts are telling you something is wrong, don’t question them. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your personal wellbeing.
- Listen. Notice the signs of abuse. If your friends tell you about something that sounds like power-based personal violence, don’t ignore it. Support them through their struggle and encourage them to find the resources they need.
- Be safe and be smart. Learn the warning signs and intervene when you can. Green Dot training specializes in teaching how to properly react in situations of power-based personal violence. Talk to your professors: over 500 JMU staff members have gone through Green Dot training, so they know how to react in these situations and are a reliable source of information.
But if you find yourself in a situation where potential sexual violence is occurring, what should you do? Everyone has barriers for what makes them uncomfortable, and often times, intervening breaks down those barriers. The Green Dot program recognizes this and has developed an easy way to remember the different ways you can intervene while still maintaining your boundaries: the 3 D’s.
- Direct. Talk directly with the person being harmed. How are they feeling? What can you do to help? How can you safely diffuse the situation? You can also directly talk with the person doing the harm.
- Delegate. If you are uncomfortable taking the direct approach or you feel like you aren’t the right person to talk to a person being harmed, find someone who is. This could be anyone: a group of friends, the host of the party, or a bartender. Anyone who will provide support in a situation.
- Distract. You can stop violence from taking place without directly addressing the situation. This could be starting a conversation with the person being harmed or creating a scene to distract the person doing the harm. Do what you can to help, but remember, you don’t have to act alone. If you feel that distraction would be the best method to stop violence from taking place, but feel uncomfortable doing it alone, ask your friends to help you.
Being an active bystander doesn’t have one simple approach, but is rather based on the individual intervening. You don’t have to go outside of your comfort zone to help, but you do have to do something.
In order to accomplish Green Dot’s mission of preventing power-based personal violence, we must start a conversation. Talk with your friends about this issue, even if it may seem awkward. Remember, no one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something. You don’t have to work alone to create a difference.
For more information about Green Dot, visit their website. If participating in Green Dot’s workshops or know someone who is, email the Prevention Coordinator Arianna Sessoms at firstname.lastname@example.org.