Green Dot Conference trains students how to prevent power-based violence

Forty-six percent of conference attendees admitted being victims of some form of violence.

The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center hosted its Spring 2013 Green Dot Conference on Saturday to help instruct students on actively preventing power-based personal violence.

Power-based personal violence is a form of violence that has a primary motivation of asserting power, control or intimidation. This type of violence affects both men and women and can happen in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.

“The green dot movement is a tangible way for students to prevent relationship and sexual violence,” RSVP peer-educator-in-training Sarah Billingsley said. “It addresses specific ways in which people can go against acts that could potentially become harmful.”

Green dot educators said it is possible for students to proactively combat potentially harmful situations, called “red dots,” with everyday actions, called "proactive green dots." These preventive actions include showing intolerance toward violence or supporting the green dot movement by wearing a green dot T-shirt, which displays the definition of a green dot on the back.

In the event of a real "red dot" situation, students should resort to "reactive green dot" actions, which include interrupting inappropriate language or behavior, or directing victims to the RSVP center.

A total of 50 students attended the conference. RSVP Center Coordinator Danica Wolf asked students to communicate openly and honestly, stressing the confidentiality of the event.

“This is a safe space,” she said. “What is said here stays here. But what is learned, leaves.”

In a survey of the conference participants conducted at the event, 46 percent of attendees admitted being victims of some form of power-based violence, and 100 percent admitted knowing a victim. All surveys were conducted anonymously using electronic clickers.

Eighty-two percent of attendees said they had directly witnessed a "red dot" moment.

Between the perpetrator and the victim, there are usually many bystanders capable of preventing the situation, Wolf said.

“Let’s become active bystanders, based on the assumption that individual safety is a community responsibility,” Wolf said.

In a group activity, most students said they believed passive bystanders have some responsibility in sexual violence.

“I think there is a sense of apathy, almost, regarding sexual violence,” freshman Gunnar Johanson said. “Some people don’t care, some people joke about it, and that really can make victims feel very insecure and unsafe. I think the biggest problem is that we need to bring awareness and change the atmosphere in reaction to sexual violence.”

Power-based violence can take many forms including sexual violence, partner violence and stalking violence. In a separate survey conducted Saturday, 83 percent of attendees admitted witnessing some form of stalking and 74 percent admitted witnessing some type of partner violence. College students are at a high risk for stalking, particularly on campus, Wolf said.

The green dot initiative also stresses the importance of small actions to combat "green dot" situations, silence and inaction. Small actions include walking somebody back home and sharing knowledge on preventing power-based violence.

“Sometimes people think they can’t stop these kinds of acts from happening, but they can,” said Billingsley. “It's absolutely possible for them to have an impact, even in the smallest ways.”

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