What happens if we don’t do anything?

This blog was written by Jessica Smith-Ninaber, a social media intern with One Act, to address what happens when we do not intervene in situations that may lead to violence.

Let’s paint a picture. You’re at a party, the music is loud, there’s no furniture, it’s so crowded, and you look across the room and see a man with a woman “all up in her face”. She looks cordial at first, “I think I’m good here”, he doesn’t want to hear it, he moves closer to her and begins to try and dance with her, “Sorry, I have a boyfriend”, she says. Her face begins to look more and more uncomfortable as you witness the man getting closer and closer.

Thoughts run fast through your head:

  • She must know him. Why else would he be all up in her face?
  • He’s just drunk and probably messing around. He doesn’t know what he’s doing…I hope.
  • Does she need help?
  • Who, me? No, I couldn’t, it’s none of my business.
  • I should go help her, but is it safe?

And if you’re feeling extra brave that night…

  • I am going to help her!

This kind of scenario happens weekly for many people on our college campus. We go to a party, we witness something that doesn’t seem quite right, two people going upstairs, one person’s drunk and the other is sober, and so often we just stand there, unable to think properly, unable to act, and unable to intervene.

We know the positives of intervening, we know what happens when we muster up the courage to approach someone and diffuse the potentially dangerous situation, we know the good that can come out of it, but have we ever stopped to think about what might happen if we don’t intervene?

blog - jess pic 2
Image courtesy of ExplorePortal on Twitter

It’s so easy to think the small acts we do don’t make a difference. It’s so much easier to not take responsibility and think that someone else will step up and intervene. It’s so much easier to just ignore the situation.

And yet, while that may all seem so easy and we continue about our days, our community is tolerating violence. Members of our community are becoming victims of violence. While it may be easier to not think about the woman at the party in that uncomfortable situation, on the inside she is screaming, “someone help me!”

If we don’t intervene, if we sit by passively, violence will most likely occur, sexual assault will most likely happen. We hear the statistic all the time, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their time at UNC, so how can we standby and do nothing? If you don’t say something, if you don’t intervene, if you think someone else will, then you are letting violence happen on your watch, all in the name of “it’s none of my business”. It is our responsibility as active bystanders to be just that, active bystander. It is also our responsibility as members of our Carolina community to promote behavior that we wish to become the norm; to stop behavior that threatens our safety; to promote an alternative Carolina Way that is committed to promoting health and safety on our campus.

blog - jess pic
Image courtesy of Penn State on Flickr 

So the next time you see someone in an uncomfortable situation at a party, run up to them and with all the vibrancy you can muster say, “Hey, weren’t you in my class?!” It’s just an out if someone needs it. Diffuse the awkward and uncomfortable situation, and get between the person and the potential perpetrator. Do something. Do your One Act. Create a new Carolina Way and together, let’s put an end to violence at UNC.

If you want to contribute to creating a new culture at Carolina you can start by signing up for One Act training here.

Conversation Starts with Listening

by Will McInerney

All too often, we tend to mistake hearing for listening.

Hearing is a physiological process by which sound waves are processed and passed along from our ears to our brains. Listening is a more complicated psychological process by which we comprehend, create meaning, and apply understanding. (2) Listening engages empathy and connection. This process asks us to be introspective and to challenge ourselves. Listening looks like putting your phone away during a conversation. Listening means you are not formulating a rebuttal or counterpoint while the other is talking, rather you are thinking deeply about what they are saying and taking time to process the information.

Listen
“Listen” by Ky. Flikr Creative Commons.

As a community we need to deepen our commitment to whole-heartedly listening to survivors and to the professionals who work and advocate on these issues.

October is Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM). During this month (as well as every other month) it is important that we work to hone our listening skills, foster conversations, and catalyze action.

Relationship violence takes many forms (including but not limited to physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, economic, and verbal) and affects a significant percentage of college-aged individuals. (1) RVAM is a time of year when we seek to shine light on this issue and work to create a safer, more accountable, and inclusive campus for all faculty, staff, and students.

One way we can do this is by having more open and honest conversations. Through conversation, we seek to elicit action, foster change, and create impact. But when having conversations it’s also important that we take special note to truly listen, especially to those directly affected.

Every year during RVAM, Project Dinah hosts a Speak Out event. During this event, members of the Carolina community read anonymous posting detailing the experiences of survivors. These accounts, collected and archived on the site http://speakoutunc.blogspot.com, are a prime example of the stories we should be listening to, learning from, and considering when discussing relationship violence on our campus. (3)

On October 22nd, a collection of UNC organizations will be hosting a Coffee and Conversation event surrounding Relationship Violence in the Anne Queen Lounge of the Campus Y from 5 to 6:30pm.

A panel of professionals from Student Wellness, Equal Opportunity & Compliance Office, Carolina Women’s Center, Compass Center for Women and Children, and the Dean of Students Office will speak and help facilitate group discussions. This is an opportunity for us to engage, to speak, and to challenge our community and ourselves to take tangible steps to reduce violence and listen to survivors.

For more information you can check out the Facebook event page HERE.

RVAM is a month for introspection, for challenging conversations, and for action. Let’s use this opportunity to listen to survivors and engage in constructive dialogue. Join the conversation and let your voice be heard.

If you would like to learn more about active listening and supporting survivors, you can also check out the free online Haven program provided by Student Wellness by clicking HERE.

Check out the RVAM schedule below and click HERE for more UNC RVAM events.

List of events for RVAM 

Sources

  1. http://www.loveisrespect.org/pdf/Dating_Abuse_Statistics.pdf
  2. http://study.com/academy/lesson/hearing-vs-listening-importance-of-listening-skills-for-speakers.html
  3. http://speakoutunc.blogspot.com/
  4. http://rvam.web.unc.edu/rvam-event-schedule/

 

Will McInerney has worked with the campus wide initiative to increase men’s involvement in gender equity efforts and violence prevention since its inception. He partners with students, faculty, and staff to promote positive, inclusive, and non-violent masculinities.

Will is also a writer, performer, and consultant specializing in Middle East and North Africa-based conflict zones. His work has been featured on National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, American Public Media, and recently at the International Storytelling Center. Will earned his Bachelor of Arts in Peace, War, and Defense from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Violence is a Men’s Issue

When reviewing crime statistics, a simple truth becomes apparent; male-identified individuals commit the VAST majority of all acts of violence in our society.

Yet, another truth remains; the majority of men don’t commit or condone violence. And many men and boys are subjected to some form of violence at the hands of other men. (1)

How do we reconcile these ideas? How do we play a role in reducing violence on our campus and in our communities back home? What are we going to do about this fundamental “men’s issue” that affects us all?

At Carolina there are a TON of resources including staff, faculty, classes, and student groups working to create a safer campus. You can find many of them at the SAFE.UNC.EDU website. (2)

Safe at UNC logo.

One of the resources available at UNC that is aimed directly at male-identified students is The UNC Men’s Project. The UNC Men’s Project is a new initiative started in 2013 that seeks to create opportunities for male-identified students to learn, listen, reflect, and work together to increase men’s involvement in gender equity and violence prevention efforts. The UNC Men’s project works to promote positive, healthy, inclusive, and non-violent masculinities.

The UNC Men’s Project recruits a core group of men on campus to participate in a 10-session program each semester that explores a spectrum of masculinities, examines how our own stories are shaped by masculinity, and gives participants the tools and knowledge to become peer allies, leaders, and educators in violence prevention and gender equity efforts at UNC.

Applications for the Fall Semester Men’s Project Cohort are Due September 22ndClick here to APPLY.

men's project

You should consider applying if you are interested in: 

  • joining a network of male-identified individuals interested in talking about masculinity and promoting positive masculinities;
  • gaining leadership skills;
  • learning about the impact of masculinity on ourselves and our society;
  • exploring your own story; and
  • becoming a trained ally and peer educator.

The UNC Men’s Project is committed to using an intersectional approach to discussing masculinity, and working with a diverse group of men who identify across the spectrum of sexuality and who come from different class, ability, racial, religious, and ethnic groups.

All currently enrolled male-identified UNC students (graduate and undergraduate) are welcome and encouraged to apply. (3)

To learn more about the UNC Men’s Project, check out their Website and consider applying today!

To learn more about all the other resources on campus that are working towards creating a safer and more equitable community, check out the Safe at UNC website.

With the leadership and support of a spectrum of groups, departments, and programs at UNC, let’s make this new school year a safer, more equitable, and inclusive experience for everyone.

Sources

  1. http://www.umass.edu/wost/syllabi/spring03/ToughGuise.pdf
  2. http://www.safe.unc.edu
  3. https://studentwellness.unc.edu/our-services/violence-prevention/unc-mens-project

3 Things We Learned from One Act Participants

Bystander intervention is considered a promising practice for preventing sexual violence on college campuses. UNC-CH first implemented bystander intervention in fall 2010 with our first One Act training, and have been growing the program since then, training over 2130+ students in One Act or One Act for Greeks since its inception.

Because of our commitment to implementing programs using the best available evidence possible, Student Wellness staff collect data about the effectiveness of One Act bystander intervention to make sure that what we’re doing is working! We’re delighted to share that data from the first two years of the program that we’ve previously shared here on the blog was published in the May 2015 issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

So what else have we learned?

  1. About one quarter of students attending One Act trainings (excludes One Act for Greeks*) in 2012-2015 identify that they have experienced sexual violence, interpersonal violence, or stalking in their lifetime.
  2. On average, 85% of One Act participants (excludes One Act for Greeks) in 2012-2015 know someone who has experienced sexual violence, interpersonal violence, or stalking.
  3. 100% of participants in both One Act and One Act for Greeks during the 2014-2015 academic year who completed our 1 – week post-test said that they are likely or very likely to intervene if a friend says that forcing someone to have sex is okay.

*due to time limits, anonymous clickers are not used in One Act for Greeks

Read FAQ’s about our research here.

Infographic
Created by Kelli Raker via piktochart

Six Steps for Using Everyday Language to Help Prevent Violence

When you think about how you can help prevent sexual or interpersonal violence, what comes to mind? Learning how to be an active bystander through workshops or trainings like One Act? Keeping your friends safe when partying or socializing? Joining a student organization like Project Dinah? These are all great ways to get involved in violence prevention and make our campus a safer place for everyone!

There is not just one way to get involved or prevent violence, because violence operates on a continuum of different levels, ranging from overt acts to participation in a culture that accepts or normalizes those acts. For example, public health professional Lydia Guy conceptualizes violence as a continuum of overlapping circles, ranging from actions complicit in systems of oppression (like racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, or ableism) to less frequent, more overt acts of violence that most would agree should be treated as violent crimes. The actions toward the “more frequent” end of the spectrum (for example, catcalling or telling racist “jokes”) hold systems in place that make it possible for the “less frequent” violence (sexual assault, rape, or murder) to happen.

            Making our campus safe can start with considering how our everyday language and conversations shape the overall culture that allows or deters violence on our campus. Most examples of language that contribute to violent culture happen frequently and are less noticeable. These ways of communicating not only reflect the culture we live in, but also shape the ways we know how to describe and react to potential situations of violence.

"Languages" by Chris JL, Flickr Creative Commons
“Languages” by Chris JL, Flickr Creative Commons

Examples of this kind of language may include:

  • Trivializing assault or other interpersonal violence, such as casually or jokingly using the terms “rape” or “stalking” (“That test raped me” or “I was totally Facebook stalking you earlier”)
  • Language that contributes to the marginalization of a particular group, such as telling racist, classist, or homophobic jokes, using male-based generics (like “all men are created equal”), or other microaggressions (for example, assuming that everyone you meet is heterosexual when you ask about their dating life)
  • Language that contributes to the silencing or invalidation of victims/survivors of violence, such as victim-blaming or shaming people for their sexual history, choice, or expression (“what a slut”)
  • Language that conflates sexual and violent imagery, like saying “I hit that,” or someone got “banged” or “screwed,” that normalize the combination of violence and sexuality
  • Language that propagates the myth that men are unable to control their sexual urges (“boys will be boys”)—this is not only insulting to men, but can also perpetuate the permissibility of acting on these urges, without regard to the consent of sexual partners.

 

            The good news is that we can also use language to help prevent violence – starting today! Here are some ways you can help change culture and make sure people know our campus is a place that does not tolerate violence of any kind.

  1. Be purposeful with your words. Being conscious of the history and meanings of the words can be extremely powerful. It can be helpful to think about whether language choices make light of violence, shame survivors of violence, or contribute to the marginalization of certain groups of people. Make the decision as often as possible to avoid language that contributes to violent and/or oppressive culture.
  2. Keep your friends accountable, too! People may not be aware of how their language impacts violence. Gently pointing out violent or oppressive language from friends, partners, or acquaintances can create respectful and productive dialogue. Depending on the situation and comfort level, this may as simple as saying “hey, that’s not cool/funny,” or pulling them aside to talk later. It can also be powerful to ask others to identify any language that they think is violent, oppressive, or disrespectful from others.
  3. Stand up to oppressive “jokes.” Lately, my favorite way to do this has been simply saying, “I don’t get it… What do you mean?” The person telling the joke may have a hard time explaining!
  4. Use language to create a community of respect. For example, make an effort to honor the pronouns that a person chooses to go by, whatever they may be, or respect others’ agency by asking how they identify rather than making assumptions based on the way they look or act.
  5. Critically examine the media. For example, in a news story covering a sexual assault case, do reporters include unnecessary details — like what the victim/survivor was wearing, or their sexual history? How can phrasing affect the way the public — or the jury — perceives a crime? Overall, how does language affect the way we view the world?
  6. Educate yourself with some further reading! Here are some helpful articles to start with:

 

If you witness behavior that may cross a line into the territory of harassment or discrimination, check out UNC’s new policy for prohibited discrimination, harassment, and related misconduct for options and resources.

What’s Up with HeForShe and It’s On Us?

Recently, two large campaigns have been launched around the issue of violence prevention. The United Nations kicked off the HeforShe campaign, and the White Houses launched its own Its On Us initiative. These two projects are gaining a lot of print and social media buzz.

HeForShe is a UN-led global effort to engage men in violence prevention discourse and action. The project asks men to commit to the idea that “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.” (www.heforshe.org)

UN Flag
“Flag of the United Nations” by dirc, Flickr Creative Commons
White House
“The White House” by Shubert Ciencia, Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its On Us is a White House-led nationwide campaign that focuses on reducing sexual violence on college campuses. The initiative asks people to pledge to “Recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault. To identify situations in which sexual assault may occur. To intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given. And to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.” (www.itsonus.org)

Both campaigns mentioned have used celebrity star power to push their messages forward. The UN brought in Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame, and the White House has a long list of celebs including Kerry Washington, Jon Hamm, and President Obama himself. I hope this increased media attention will allow campaigns like these to bring a greater awareness, and a more active resistance, to all forms of violence.

HeForShe
“UN Women’s HeForShe Campaign Special Event” by UN Women, Flickr Creative Commons

Additionally, it is both refreshing and reassuring to see campaigns directly (HeForShe) and indirectly (Its On Us) challenge men to be accountable for the violent patriarchal society we live in. That being said, I hope they continue to push for men’s active participation in violence prevention, men’s active resistance to violent masculinity, and men’s active deconstruction of male privilege. The latter, privilege, is all too easy and convenient for men to forget.

Male privilege must be explored, re-explored, and actively resisted at both the individual and societal levels as we work toward true gender equity and violence prevention. Signing a pledge online is not good enough. Not even close. Those who identify toward the male-identified end of the gender spectrum, especially cisgender men, must be held accountable for the culture and society for which we have both greatly benefited from, and actively and passively constructed.

UN Women's Day 2014
“International Women’s Day 2014: Equality for women is progress for all” by UN Women, Flickr Creative Commons

Although these campaigns are certainly are not perfect and could benefit from constructive criticism and more direct engagement from leaders in the movement, I am encouraged and cautiously excited to see them  forming on such large and visible stages. That being said, as more men join this cause—which is fundamentally their responsibility—I hope we keep the conversation about privilege at the forefront. All too often men are over-praised and over-compensated for work they should have been doing in the first place and for work that women, and particularly women of color, have been doing for a long time without proper recognition.

A violence prevention movement with men engaged that does not actively resist and deconstruct male privilege is hollow and ineffective.

HeForShe and Its On Us are a step in a positive direction, but that does not mean we shouldn’t continue to challenge, build, and grow with them. Keeping the deconstruction of male privilege at the forefront is just one of several issues that should and already have been addressed. Some more issues include: How are these movements inclusive to the spectrum of genders outside of the false male-female binary? How are these movements acknowledging the tremendous and courageous work that has come before them? How are intersectionality and identity politics being infused into all of this anti-oppression work? And what about the male survivors of men’s violence—are their voices being heard and included?

UNC Men's Project Logo
UNC Men’s Project. Logo designed by Garrett Ivey.

Let’s continue the conversation and push for holistic, equitable, and authentic violence prevention. If you are a male-identified student and interested in these issues, consider applying to the UNC Men’s Project. The UNC Men’s Project is a campus-wide initiative to increase men’s involvement in gender equity and violence prevention through experiential learning, creative practice, and fellowship. You can find more information with the link below.

 Applications are available online at www.uncmensproject.com and are due by Midnight on Friday, October 3rd 

Plan for a Safe Halloween: Be an ACTive Bystander!

Make a plan:

  • Before Halloween (like, TODAY!) talk with your friends about getting to and from Halloween parties and events how you will get around and how you will get home, and how you will keep tabs on each other throughout the night so no one gets left behind.
  • Account for all people in your group of friends when you go out and when you head home. Staying with friends throughout the night will help ensure that everyone is safe and having a good time!
  • Offer to watch your friends’ drinks (alcoholic or not) when they leave the table.

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Make it a night to remember:

  • Drink water!
  • Consider the weather when you are designing your costume – be sure to dress warmly and remind your friends as well!
  • Activities like pre-gaming raise BAC (blood alcohol content, a measure of the amount of alcohol in your body) and make it more likely for a person to pass out or black out.  Talk to your friends about risk reduction strategies if they are planning to drink. Some common strategies among UNC students are: eating before drinking, avoiding shots, alternating alcoholic drinks with water, setting a pacing limit (e.g. 1 drink per hour), or an overall drink limit for the night.  For more ideas, check out this blog post.

Ask for Help:

  • Familiarize yourself with Halloween-specific resources and guidelines like the Town of Chapel Hill Guidelines, Parking Information from Public Safety
  • If someone is experiencing signs of alcohol poisoning or other injury, call 911 for medical help.
  • If you see potentially violent (physical or sexual) situation, call 911 for help!
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, find one of the many uniformed police officers that will be on hand for the event. Their main goal is to keep everyone safe. If you can’t find someone in person, call 911.
  • Keep in mind NC’s new Good Samaritan Law: If you seek medical help on behalf of someone with alcohol poisoning, you will be exempt from certain underage alcohol possession charges. In other words, they cannot ticket you with underage possession or consumption of alcohol if you are you seeking medical attention on behalf of someone who may have alcohol poisoning.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable contacting police, look for volunteers from Student Affairs. They’ll be walking around in pairs to assist students in need of support. They can connect you to emergency or support services.
  • When things don’t go as planned, contact other resources that night or the next day for support for yourself or your friends.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!