October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, so in honor of that, I would like to highlight how we as a society can address the problems of dating violence and how we can stop it, together. It is important to raise awareness, but it is also extremely important to know how to act if you see sexual assault or partner violence.
Here at JMU we have a number of organizations that are raising awareness about sexual assault and intimate partner violence, such as C.A.R.E (Campus Assault ResponsE), JMU Red Flag Campaign, and Dukes Step Up. These three organizations in particular are working to raise awareness of the prevalence of assault and violence on college campuses, and how often there is something that could have been done. In this article, I would like to highlight the Decision Making Model provided by Dukes Step Up, with an emphasis on how to act. Their Decision Making Model is as such:
1) Notice the Event
2) Interpret the Event
3) Assume Personal Responsibility
4) Have the Skills to Intervene
5) Implement the Help
In the last step, implementing the help, these are some things to consider before you jump into any situation.
1. Be aware of your surroundings. Anticipate problems and look for red flags. If you notice a problem, consider the best interventions and/or exit strategies.
2. Investigate ambiguous events further, even if others appear unconcerned. Ask others what they think. Be mindful of peer pressure and be prepared to react to it.
3. Never assume someone else will do something. Take it upon yourself to act. Publicly state your intention to help. You can decide later whether it be directly or indirectly. Enlist the help of others to step up.
**Direct and indirect intervention is based on many factors. Direct could be going up to the person, but if you feel unsafe you can indirectly intervene by getting another authority figure to help in the situation.
4. Learn the skills and strategies to step up. Think about different situations BEFOREHAND and determined how you would DIRECTLY and INDIRECTLY step up. Practice the skills in everyday life so you’re ready when you need them.
5. Be the first to act. Sometimes others are just looking for someone else to go first. Create shared upon standards of behavior and expectations within your group. Use a SAFE, EFFECTIVE, AND EARLY response.
The most important thing to remember is that sexual assault and partner violence can occur anywhere. It can happen at parties, it can happen on the metro, it can happen on the bus, it can happen in your home, it can happen at a concert, it can happen in public. You responsibility as a bystander and witness is to say something – whether it be to another person, an authority figure, or to the victim/perpetrator. There are many ways to judge a situation, and my hope is that this post can equip you with the knowledge of when and how to act.
If you are interested in learning about the organizations I mentioned, I encourage you to click on the hyperlinks above to learn more and get involved. If you are interested in learning more about assault and violence prevention, I encourage you to check out these following websites.
As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. We would all like to see a world in which men and women can live their lives peacefully, free from emotional/physical abuse, and free from sexual assault. I urge you to say something if you see something, to better campus safety for all students, and to better this world.