The Importance of an Informed Supportive Community: Why the Green Dot Bystander training is so Crucial

by B. A. Bystander

The Green Dot program is not exclusive to Puget Sound; it’s implemented at college campuses not only all across the country, but all over the entire world. A map on livethegreendot.com shows all of the college campuses that have certified Green Dot instructors, as well as lists them out by name. I recently took part in the six-hour Green Dot Bystander training, as well as participating in Take Back the Night march. I went into these events thinking that I would be a member of support, learning new ways to be there for affected individuals, offer a safe space to those who would feel comfortable talking to me, and how to validate their feelings.

I learned a lot more than that. I learned that I have experienced power-based personal violence. Power-based violence is defined, through the Green Dot Bystander training, as a form of violence that has as a primary motivator the assertion of power, control, and/intimidation in order to harm another. This includes partner violence, sexual assault, stalking, and other uses of force, threat, intimidation, or harassment of an individual. It also includes the use of alcohol or drugs to commit any of these acts. Men can be victims of power-based violence as well, and this kind of violence can happen in straight as well as queer relationships, meaning offender and victim can be any gender.

There is a lot of valid information that one learns from both of these events; Take Back the Night this semester had a speaker from University of Washington share their story, while also providing statistical evidence for the country, as well as across college campuses. The Green Dot Bystander training points out certain problematic behaviors that should be followed up upon.

With the sudden realization that I have dealt with power-based personal violence in the past, it makes me wish that I would’ve had a safe space, a person I felt comfortable around, or just had someone check in on me—something to have helped me to get through that time and grow from it then. Instead of having it suppressed, only to come back up in my life again, junior year of college.

I have been stalked/harassed by individuals, both before and during my stay here at Puget Sound. Towards the end of last spring semester, I had an individual text me, Facebook message me, etc. When they would see that I read messages and wasn’t immediately writing them back, they would turn hostile—almost trying to guilt me into talking to them. In order to keep my distance, and peace of mind, I have purposefully rearranged my entire class schedule (for this semester) in order to drop one class that they were also planning on taking, to avoid seeing them. I did not want to have the situation escalate again, since dying down at the beginning of this school year. I might’ve been retargeted because I had been stalked in the not-so-distant distant past. In fifth grade, a different individual (of the same age) found out where I lived, and he left me letters, gifts, ding-dong ditch my house. When my father caught him one time and asked him to please leave me alone, he had also turned hostile. He started to egg my house, threaten my father—interrupting family dinner on Easter, not just once, but three times until I had my first panic attack. In fifth grade. A traumatic experience like this is something that you’d think that I wouldn’t forget, but I did. And hearing others’ stories at both Take Back the Night and the Green Dot Bystander training brought it all back.

These are the best programs that we have on campus to help combat the number of power-based personal violence events from rising. By being proactive and checking in on those close to us when new relationships arise. Because the signs that indicate the potential of power-based personal violence occurring the exact same as a new relationship. It is the reaction to certain behaviors that give away whether or not the interactions between the two individuals is healthy and well-intended. While I encourage everyone who is willing and able to go and participate in the Green Dot Bystander training, I also encourage for those who may find the topics covered in the training to be potentially detrimental to their emotional stability to practice self-care. I was very lucky to not have been negatively affected by having these realizations come to light, but had some of my experiences been more severe, I could’ve very easily been triggered and set myself back.

If you or someone close to you feel comfortable talking to someone, here is some relevant contact information for members of the UPS/Tacoma community:

  • Peer Allies
    • peerallies@pugetsound.edu
      facebook.com/pugetsoundpeerallies
      Office hours daily, except Saturday, in Gail Day Chapel (upstairs in Kilworth)

 

  • Marta Palmquist Cady
    • Assistant Dean of Students
    • Leads Green Dot Bystander training
    • Director of Student Activities

 

  • YWCA of Pierce County
    • 24-hour crisis line: 253.383.2593
    • Ywcapiercecounty.org

 

  • Rebuilding Hope! Sexual Assault Center for Pierce County
    • 24-hour Crisis, Information, and Referral Line
      • 800.756.7273 or 253.474.7273
    • Sexualassaultcenter.com/advocacy

 

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