What’s with the Green Dot?

Visualize for a moment that unforgettable image of small red–dots spreading across a computer generated map of the US, symbolizing the spread of some terrible epidemic – with each tiny red dot representing an individual case. With disturbing speed‚ the three or four single dots multiply and spread until the whole map emits a red glow comprised of a zillion tiny dots.

Each red dot on this map represents an act of power-based personal violence (partner violence‚ sexual violence, or stalking) – or a choice to tolerate‚ justify or perpetuate this violence. A red dot is a rape – a red dot is a hit – a red dot is a threat – a red dot is a statement that justifies or minimizes the violence – a red dot is an individual choice to do nothing in the face of a high risk situation. Power-based personal violence is not a huge‚ solid mass that can simply be removed with one swift action or policy. Rather‚ it is the accumulation of individual decisions‚ moments‚ values‚ and actions made by the men and women from every corner of our campus. It’s hard to know exactly how many red dots are on our map at any given moment – but we do know there have been enough red dots to create a culture that sustains far too many women and men experiencing violence.

Imagine that a green dot is any behavior‚ choice‚ word‚ or attitude that promotes safety for all of us and communicates utter intolerance for any form of violence. A green dot is pulling a friend out of a high risk situation – a green dot is putting a green dot statement on your Facebook page – a green dot doing a paper about violence prevention – a green dot is hanging an awareness poster in your hall or classroom– a green dot is wearing your green dot gear – a green dot is encouraging discussion in class about violence prevention – a green dot is striking up a conversation with a friend about how much this issue matters to you – a green dot is organizing a fundraiser for campus prevention efforts – a green dot is getting your organization to go to green dot bystander training. A green dot is simply your individual choice at any given moment to make our campus safer.

How many green dots will it take to begin reducing power-based personal violence on our campus? How many of us need to add 2 or 3 or 7 or 50 dots to this map to begin to make a difference and begin to outshine and displace those red dots? We cannot know the exact number‚ but we do know this: if most of us choose inaction – if most of us choose to close our eyes to this issue – if most of us choose apathy and indifference – then the red dots stand! If we do not begin replacing moments of violence and inaction with moments of support and safety‚ then we will surely continue to have our partners, friends and co-workers become victims of violence. That is not OK. That must not be OK with any of us.

The power of Green Dot is this simple shared vision and common goal; this map of our world and a clear image of our role in it. “I can either be a red dot or a green dot.”

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