In the movie “Outbreak,” small red dots on a map of the U.S. represent someone with a highly contagious disease. With disturbing speed, the red dots multiply. Using this as an analogy to violence, the Green Dot Program, developed at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY, seeks to replace these red dots with green dots. For instance, when applied to abuse, a green dot represents any behavior, choice, word or attitude that promotes safety for everyone and communicates utter intolerance for any form of violence.
The Green Dot Program operates on the premise that in order to measurably reduce power-based personal violence, such as domestic abuse, a cultural shift is necessary. In order to create a cultural shift, a critical mass of people will need to engage in a new behavior or set of behaviors that will make violence less sustainable within any given community. This comprehensive approach to the prevention of violence capitalizes on the power of peer and cultural influence.
Some examples of Green Dot behaviors:
• Responding to a victim-blaming statement with words of support
• Standing next to someone who is being bullied
• Creating a distraction if you witness an abusive situation
• Providing Family Shelter’s hotline number to someone you think may be in an abusive situation (630-469-5650)
In essence, a green dot is an individual choice at any given moment to make our community safer. Everyone has some connection to the issue of power-based violence; possibly we know someone who has been affected, or we are connected through our desire to see social justice and community safety. No matter what our connection, the daily reality and human cost of power-based personal violence within our community demands that we respond urgently and immediately.
The power of Green Dot is the momentum that can be created and sustained when individuals see themselves in connection with others as part of something ultimately bigger than the sum of its parts.
To learn more about Green Dot, or to have Family Shelter speak to your organization or school about the program, please contact Joy Tanimura- Winquist at joytw@familyshelterservice. net or call 630-221-8290.