We know that every day, people in our hometowns, the cities we live in, in the United States, and around the world experience and witness acts of power-based personal violence. Instances of sexual assault, dating violence & abuse, domestic violence & abuse, and stalking are just a few types of power-based personal violence that are we tend to see reported on weekly, and sometimes even daily, in the news. Each incident impacts individuals, groups, and communities in unique ways, but the fact that it even occurs should concern all of us to the point of desiring and acting upon social change.
Within the Green Dot bystander intervention strategy each act of power-based personal violence is likened to a "red dot" covering a map, much like an epidemic spreading if it is not reactively or proactively stopped. Categories of these red dots are defined below. In the metaphor, "green dots" are what someone, a group, or a community can do to stop violence & abuse from happening in a moment (short-term). Green dots are also a long-term commitment, wherein individuals, groups, and communities engage in awareness, education, and proactivity around the message that violence & abuse are occurrences that will not be tolerated, encouraged, or silenced.
Also referred to as interpersonal violence, power-based personal violence is the intentional use of force or power - threatened or actual - against a person or community that results in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.
Interpersonal violence can occur throughout the life course and includes, but is not limited to, child abuse & neglect, dating violence & abuse, domestic violence & abuse, elder abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, stalking, workplace violence, and youth violence (teen dating violence, bullying, hazing).
Abuse experienced within any type of interpersonal violence takes many forms, both physical and non-physical. Categories include, but are not limited to, emotional & psychological abuse, financial abuse, legal coercion, medical coercion, physical abuse, sexual abuse, stalking, and technological abuse.
It is important for anyone learning about & engaging in bystander intervention to acknowledge that individuals of all identities can experience abuse, just as individuals of all identities can perpetrate it. Within our observations, learning, and intervention approaches, it is equally important to recognize that systemic & social factors, identity, and community all impact risk, resources, and the ways in which we may choose, need, or be asked to intervene. In addition to learning to learning about bystander intervention through the Green Dot strategy, we also encourage our campus community to engage in additional learning opportunities, through Health Promotion and other offices on campus, that allow safe and non-judgmental spaces for discussions of intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989), which conceptualizes how overlapping or intersecting social identities—and particularly minority identities—relate to systems and structures of discrimination, oppression, and violence.
Any sexual contact that occurs without consent. This is a larger term that encompasses several acts, including:
Rape: attempted or actual penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina, anus, or mouth, without consent.
Fondling: intentionally touching of the private body parts of another person without consent, whether over or under clothing. This includes forcing someone to touch themselves or another person, or the offender forcing someone to touch them.
Incest: includes rape that occurs between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
Sexual Exploitation: taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited.
Statutory Rape: includes an adult who knowingly and intentionally commits rape against someone legally identified as a child or minor.
Includes any act of violence, attempted violence, or threatened act of violence that occurs between individuals who are involved or have been involved in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature, including a sexual or dating relationship.
Dating violence and abuse may include sexual assault, stalking, physical abuse, economic or emotional abuse, including behaviors that are intended to intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, or isolate. It also includes acts or threats against family members, friends, pets, or property.
Any act of violence, attempted or threatened act of violence between (1) current/former spouses, (2) individuals who share a child in common, (3) individuals who are living or have lived with each other as spouses or intimate partners, or (4) anyone who causes harm to an adult or child in violation of domestic violence or family laws.
Domestic violence & abuse may include sexual assault, stalking, physical abuse, economic or emotional abuse, including behaviors that are intended to intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, or isolate. It also includes acts or threats against family members, friends, pets, or property.
Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would reasonably cause them to: (1) fear for their safety or the safety of others, or (2) suffer substantial emotional distress.
Acts that together constitute stalking may be direct actions or may be indirect actions (i.e., communicated through a third party), and can include but are not limited to, threats of harm to self, others, or property; pursuing or following; non-consensual (unwanted) communication by any means; unwanted gifts; trespassing; and surveillance or other related types of observation. Stalking also includes cyber-stalking through electronic media, like the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, or text messages.
Within the Green Dot strategy, the use of a green dot symbolizes a single moment in time that can be used to disrupt and end an act of power-based personal violence. This provides a measure of accountability to the person or people causing harm, as well as a measure of support to the person or people receiving harm.
Through your words, choices, and actions in any given moment, you can choose to take action by activating a green dot bystander intervention strategy, which increases individual and community safety. If each person contributes and we normalize bystander intervention as a part of our daily lives, we will reduce the perpetration of power-based personal violence (or red dots), on green dot at a time.
Green dots are divided into two categories: reactive and proactive. Reactive green dots are strategies that bystanders can use in a moment when they suspect or witness an act of power-based personal violence. These are necessary and important, but we cannot rely on reactive measures alone to change the way people think about, react, and commit to violence prevention. Proactive green dots are the long-term strategy. These are things that we embody in our daily lives, principles, personal or organizational missions, behaviors, and attitudes that create a culture where the expressed and known normative behaviors are intolerant of violence & abuse.
- Start conversations about prevention and keep them going in your spheres of influence
- Share links to stories or videos on social media from local, state, or national organizations that educate on prevention & response
- Attend a Green Dot overview or training, or request one of these for your class, department training, or student organization/group
- Request Green Dot brochures or promotional items from Health Promotion to show your support for violence prevention, and help others learn more about this bystander intervention program
- Volunteer with a local organization that focuses on responding to power-based personal violence
- Teach others in your life that they deserve healthy relationships, and that normalizing unhealthy or abusive behaviors as “just something everyone experiences” or as a part of “tradition” is untrue
- Become knowledgeable about policies and laws that protect individuals who are impacted by power-based personal violence, such as Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act
- When the opportunity presents, commit to doing a research paper or class project on a topic of violence prevention
- If you are a part of a student organization or group, make violence prevention part of your philanthropy. Host fundraising, awareness and prevention events for a local organization
- Directly address harmful/predatory statements and behaviors that perpetuate acceptance of violence & abuse: for example, “what you said is not funny or accurate. Tell me more about why you think about violence & abuse this way. I want to understand your perspective, because I am concerned about how saying or believing these harmful things could impact you or others.”
- Check in with friends, roommates, classmates, etc. if you have any concerns about their safety. If they are open to connecting with resources, share information with them and offer ongoing support
- Make accountability part of your organizational and department standards. If a member or a colleague is threatening to harm others or actually does so, steward them towards the conduct process Harming others is of obvious concern that requires ongoing intervention from professionals. Keeping others and our campus safe is also an obligation and reputational standard that should be important to anyone
- Reframe conversations and statements around harm-reduction, so the responsibility lies with the person doing harm rather than on the person being harmed. For example, instead of putting responsibility on the person being harmed by saying something like “you put yourself at risk by drinking at that party” instead say “it’s a great concern that someone went out last night intending to spike drinks at the party. They obviously had no right to stalk and assault you. They are entirely at fault for what happened, and their predatory behavior has nothing to do with your decision to have gone out or had a drink.”
- If I suspect that my friend has been drugged, I seek professional help.
- If I saw someone who was intoxicated left behind by her/his friends, I would tell them to take her/him with them.
- If I suspect that my friend is in an abusive relationship, I ask her/him and provide information about resources available.
- If I suspect a friend has been sexually assaulted, I let her/him know I am here if they want to talk.
- If I hear someone yelling and fighting, I call 911.
- If I see someone spike another person’s drink, I stop them and call police or get someone else to.
- If I see a friend or stranger grab, push or insult another person, I say something, go get help or get someone else to.
- If I see a friend take an intoxicated person up the stairs, I stop and ask what is going on or create a distraction to interrupt the situation.
- If someone appears upset, I ask if they are okay.
- If I notice someone has a large bruise, I ask how they were hurt.
- I talk to my friends about consent, and how he or she should wait until their partner verbalizes his/her feelings.
- If I choose to leave a party early, I account for the people I came with.
- If I see two men dragging a woman into a room, I call for help and intervene.
- I will offer to watch my friends’ drinks when they leave the table.
- If I know or suspect that a friend is in an abusive relationship (physically, sexually, or emotionally), I tell them they can confide in me.
- I share statistics with my friends about power-based personal violence.
- If someone needs my help and I don’t have the answer, I tap my resources and find someone who does.
- If I hear that someone is in a bedroom “in training,” I call 911.
- I go investigate if I am awakened at night by someone calling for help.
- If I see someone at a party who has had too much to drink, I ask them if they need to be walked home so they can go to sleep.
- If a woman is being shoved or yelled at by a man, I ask her if she needs help.
- If a man is being shoved or harassed by others, I ask him if he needs help.
- If I hear what sounds like yelling and fighting through my dorm walls, I knock on the door to see if everything is ok.
- If I hear what sounds like yelling or fighting through my dorm or apartment walls, I talk with a resident advisor or someone else who can help.
- If I hear an acquaintance talking about forcing someone to have sex with them, I speak up against it and express concern for the person who was forced.
- I will say something to a person whose drink I saw spiked with a drug even if I didn’t know them.
- Grab someone else’s cup and pour their drink out if I saw that someone slipped something into it.
- Call a rape crisis center for help if a friend, acquaintance, or stranger told me they were sexually assaulted.
- Confront friends who make excuses for abusive behavior by others.
- Speak up if I hear someone say “s/he deserved to be raped.”
- I see a couple, whether I know them or not, in a heated argument. One’s fist is clenched and the partner looks upset. I ask if everything is ok.
- If I know information about an incident of sexual violence, I tell authorities what I know in case it is helpful