Tag: Victim Blaming

What is a Green Dot?

“Green Dot, etc.” is a five year strategy designed to engage ALL community members in the effort to decrease violence. It uses awareness, education and skill-practice to encourage proactive behaviors that establish intolerance of norms that support violence. The goal is for individuals and groups to engage in a basic education program that will equip them to integrate moments of prevention and intervention within their existing relationships and daily activities. It reinforces the community members that they CAN make a difference. Perhaps more importantly, it engages them actively in norm changing behavior that ultimately will lay the groundwork for a culture within our community that does not tolerate violence. The “Green Dot, etc.” does not require that a group or individual has any understanding of domestic, sexual or dating violence. It does not require a particular perspective or a point of view. It allows us to meet people where they are and engage every member of our community in the work to end violence.
So, what is a green dot? A green dot is an individual action, activity or statement that communicates to someone else that violence is not okay. Often a green dot happens when someone sees something that indicates that violence is possible, is imminent or has already happened. It might be a dangerous situation, something you know is wrong or something that just makes you uncomfortable. A green dot can be as simple as a check in: “Are you okay?” or “Do you need some help?” A green dot can also happen without the presence of violence. You can just tell a friend a cool story of when someone kept someone else safe or put a poster in the window at your workplace or business, or wear a green dot pin. The idea is that small changes add up to cultural change. We all just need to say or do something that lets others know that violence is not okay with us and we are willing to do our part to stop it.
Seems so simple! Unfortunately, sometimes obstacles get in the way of us doing our green dots. We might be shy, worried about what others will say, think it’s none of our business, don’t want to get involved, afraid of retaliation or just don’t know what to do. “Green Dot, etc.” teaches us to be aware of our obstacles and to come up with new and creative ways to initiate a green dot that feels comfortable given those obstacles. It doesn’t matter what you do. It just matters that you do something! Enough green dots and we WILL change the culture that supports violence in our community.
The “Green Dot, etc.” does not ask you to change who you are or what you believe. We have just recently begun implementation of a five year “Green Dot, etc.” strategy locally. We can come to your organization, place of business, agency, community group or church and give a green dot presentation. It is free and we can customize the presentation to the types of issues your particular group sees or hears about. If you would like us to give a presentation to your group, give Marcy a call at 541-592-5332. We can do a very brief presentation (5-15 minutes) to a large group and/or or a more extended and interactive presentation to those who are interested in the brief overview. The presentation provides a framework to engage the broader community and creates a common language. We are very excited about the program and we believe that this strategy could make a REAL difference in our community. Follow us on twitter @ivgreendot.
P.S. Calling and asking about a presentation is a green dot!

Challenge for Community Compassion

While working on the computer, doing research for an article, I have also been reading some of the Face Book sites, where people can talk about the crime that has been happening in our area.  I see a lot of people complaining, wanting to run people out of town, put them in jail, or worse, they would like to see something bad happen to them. Some of the posters would like to be the ones doing the bad things to people.  It shocks me that people would intentionally place “booby traps” to intentionally hurt or kill someone over a little stolen gas.  I wonder where priorities lie. As I read these comments, I wonder that not one of them has ever had hard times? No one  has ever had a family member, who due to circumstances beyond their control, has been in a bad situation. When I read about someone stealing gas, or stealing cars or breaking into someone’s garage and taking tools, I wonder where that person learned to do those things.  What has happened in that person’s life that they did not learn to respect other people’s property? What lesson did they learn as a child that they decided that the drug life is the only life they could have? What happened to that child, that coping with drugs and alcohol was the only thing that they could find for comfort, or the only way they could cope?

Many of us have not known what it’s like to have brothers and uncles and neighbors and grandfathers molesting us, what it’s like to be belittled and beat every day when we are six, seven years old. Many of us don’t know how it feels to not have anyone say they love you; not have anyone hold you when you cry; not have anyone there for you when you are terrified, or when you are bullied, or when you need someone to talk to. Some of us don’t know what it feels like to think you are the only one who hates yourself and wants to be dead, thinking that is the only way out. Many of us don’t  know what it feels like to go to someone we look up to after being sexually assaulted, thinking they will help,  only to be told it’s our fault; go away and never talk about it again, even if we’re only  five years old. Many of us don’t know what it feels like to be raised in a home where the only thing we learn is violence, and the only way we cope is alcohol and drugs, or by hanging around anyone who accepts us, or hurting ourselves.

Thank goodness that many of us don’t know these things. Thank goodness that there are some who know what it feels like to have your existence validated, have someone there to tell you that you are special just because you are a person. Thank goodness. What we know is that there are as many who don’t know what that is like than there are that do know what that is like.

What does this say about humanity? Does it say that because I have been fortunate in my life I will not accept anyone who is less fortunate? Or does it tell us to open our hearts and our minds and begin to find an answer, begin to find a solution, and begin to understand?

What happens to a child when they experience these violations of trust is that their brain changes. It changes the way they process information. Actions and feeling become disconnected, so, as an adult, they cannot connect their actions to the consequences and feelings of other people.  A child is more damaged by witnessing domestic violence than they are by experiencing physical abuse.  When a child as young as a newborn is living in a house where there is domestic violence; even yelling and screaming and tension all the time, they have a greater chance of growing up not able to have compassion for other people or for themselves.

Most of the men in the prison system grew up in a home where there is domestic violence. Most of the women in the prison system are there because their crimes are related to domestic violence. 79% of children who are sentenced to life in prison without parole were raised in a violent environment. 77% of girls in prison without parole were victims of sexual abuse. Violence is a learned behavior, and when it is demonstrated by adults in a home environment as how to resolve problems, children internalize this and, without intervention, are more likely to repeat it.

The feeling of safety in our communities also determines whether someone will grow up and become a criminal themselves. If a child is living with domestic violence and, in addition to feeling unsafe at home, the community also feels like it is not a safe place to be, such as the feeling that is in our community from the recent deaths of the young men here, the chances that they will grow up to become criminals themselves increases dramatically. Five out of eight children in prison viewed their neighborhoods as an unsafe place to be as well as their homes.  More than two thirds of those witnessed drug sales in their community.

So, we have a challenge in our community. We see the violence, we see the drug use, and we complain about it and wish the police would do something about it, or we decide to become vigilantes and do something ourselves. More violence added to the violence already here. Maybe that is not the answer. Maybe the answer is giving those who are experiencing violence someplace where they can talk about it and be told that it is not their fault. Maybe the answer is to create a place of safety in our community instead of a vigilante force. Maybe if we can’t stop what is happening in our community right now, we can prevent it from happening to the next generation. Our children don’t have to carry violence to the next generation if they have enough support in their lives that they don’t internalize the violence and the drugs. If there are enough people to stand up and say “I care about you and I won’t let you fall through the cracks,” we may be able to raise a community of children who grow up and become  caring, responsible citizens.

So this is the challenge; lets change the way we look at those who are committing the crimes.

I read a long time ago about a village that treated its criminals a way that worked. They caught the criminal and brought him to the center of town. Then the entire town came and surrounded him. He thought he was done for. But then an amazing thing happened. Everyone in the town came up to him and told him how much they loved him and that they wanted him to do the right thing. They told him they would help him  in any way they could. They told him he was a valuable member of their community. The criminal was so touched at the love that he wanted to change. He felt supported. He felt that someone cared. That is our challenge. Who is up for it?