- greendot, etc.
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Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.
-Robert F. Kennedy
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 – 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.
Now imagine for a moment a map of your town, campus, military base, community, state or neighborhood. Each red dot on this map represents an act of power-based personal violence (partner violence‚ sexual violence, stalking, bullying, child abuse, or elder abuse) – 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 an individual choice to do nothing in the face of a potentially 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 world. 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 promotes bystander inaction and sustains a rate of nearly a quarter of women becoming victims of violence during their lifetimes and an untold number of men experiencing similar trauma.
Now imagine adding a green dot in the middle of all those red dots on your map. A green dot is any behavior‚ choice‚ word‚ or attitude that promotes safety for all our citizens and communicates utter intolerance for violence. A green dot is pulling a friend out of a high risk situation – a green dot is donating a few dollars to your local service provider– a green dot is displaying an awareness poster in your room or office – a green dot is putting a green dot message on your facebook page – a green dot is striking up a conversation with a friend or family member about how much this issue matters to you. A green dot is simply your individual choice at any given moment to make our world safer.
How many green dots will it take to begin reducing power-based personal violence? 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 outnumber 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 with moments of support and safety‚ then we will surely continue to have more than 1 in 4 women and countless men become victims of violence. That is not OK. That must not be OK with any of us.
The power of Green Dot is simple: Red dots bad. Green dots good. You decide.
At Green Dot, etcetera, our work goes beyond the Green Dot program itself. As leaders in violence prevention, we provide training, technical assistance, and program development for individuals, schools, and organizations both domestically and internationally as they work to foster safe communities. We are proud to be a technical assistance provider for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women Campus Program. To learn more about that initiative, please visit our OVW Technical Assistance section.
We are collaborating with Hollaback to support their amazing efforts to address street harassment. To learn more about Street Harassment and how you can do your part to reduce it, check out ihollaback.org.