Have you heard about Green Dot? Are you unsure about what it is?
Here are some things you should know about Green Dot Bystander Training:
First things first: Green Dot is not a program run out of the Women’s Center
As excited as we are to see Green Dot implemented at U.Va., it is not a Women’s Center program. Green Dot is a national violence prevention strategy and training that is part of the “Not on Our Grounds” initiative housed by the Office of the Dean of Students. Green Dot’s mission of empowering individuals to bring about cultural change aligns closely with the work of the Women’s Center, but is ultimately a program facilitated by the Office of the Dean of Students.
It’s not your typical lesson on how to prevent power-based violence.
Many prevention strategies have focused on the two people that are involved in cases of power-based violence: the perpetrator and the survivor. Traditionally the focus is on teaching potential perpetrators not to commit acts of violence and informing those who may be susceptible to violence about the ways they can try to protect themselves. Green Dot asks you to rethink how many people are involved in cases of sexual assault. It’s not just these two people. There are almost always bystanders that can play an important part in stopping sexual assault from occurring. Green Dot asks you to realize the power of the bystander and teaches you that there are many different ways to be a good bystander.
Green Dot doesn’t try to focus on teaching you what consent is. The program acknowledges that consent is important, but argues that the challenges of reaching a universal understanding of what consent is detracts from a more helpful conversation about bystanders. Green Dot encourages bystanders to follow their gut instincts when they see something they think looks dangerous by teaching them what they can do to stop it. Whether or not we agree on what consent is, we all know that sexual assault is bad and should be stopped. Green Dot gives you the confidence to know how to stop it in a way that you’re comfortable with.
Green Dot asks you to look at the things you already know in a new way. We have heard people talk about the statistic “1 in 4” and the red zone. Green Dot is asking you to look at those statistics and see what role you play in changing them.
The facilitators really know what they’re talking about.
You would think that the facilitators created and wrote the Green Dot curriculum themselves. (But it’s important to know that they didn’t and neither did U.Va.) They really understand what Green Dot is about. You can fire any question at them, any scenario, and they have a very thoughtful response to it. They can talk to you about the technical side of Green Dot: tell you what a Red Dot is, what a Reactive Green Dot is, how to Direct, Delegate, and Distract. But they can also talk to you about how this program is different from most, why it’s helpful, and why they believe in it.
One facilitator told us, “This program has given me hope. This is a way that one by one we can come together to change culture.”
They really believe in the ability of Green Dot to change culture and it’s hard not to believe in it too after listening to them speak.
They make it personal – but not uncomfortably so.
The facilitators try to emphasize how we are all connected to personal violence. They bring the issue home, anonymously surveying the crowd to see what percentage of us know someone who had an act of power-based violence committed against them, and what percentage of those situations had a bystander that could have intervened. They point out how quick we are to challenge people on their language and correct usage of U.Va. slang, but hesitate to challenge dangerous behavior. They share their own reasons for joining Green Dot and ask you to reflect on the idea that we can, one by one, come together and change culture.
But you’re never uncomfortable. The facilitators create a safe space to confront our connection to power-based violence and learn the different ways we can be good bystanders. The statistics and facts are presented, but are quickly followed up with, “and here’s how we can change that.” Green Dot tries to highlight our personal connection to the issue of power-based violence so that we truly realize and believe in the power we have as bystanders that can change culture.
As someone who recently attended a Green Dot training for the first time, I cannot recommend it enough. It will leave you feel empowered, informed, and confident that you can help change culture.