Violence is no laughing matter. The national media reports stories of rape, assault and abuse daily. Recently horrifying tales of gang rape in India and the shooting of a young activist in Pakistan have filled the news.
Sam Wilmoth, MSW candidate in the West Virginia University School of Social Work and graduate assistant at WELLWVU believes we have to stop accepting the status quo and do something about it. He is working with the Green Dot initiative to eliminate violence in our community.
The Green Dot initiative is a research-based, grant funded organization under the Center for Disease Control, the goal of the organization is to prepare organizations and communities to implement a strategy of violence prevention that consistently and measurably reduces power-based personal violence, including sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, child abuse, elder abuse and bullying.
“A green dot represents a moment in time when someone steps forward to take a stand against violence,” Wilmoth said.
The Green Dot program empowers people to take control, and see the early warning signs of violence for themselves and those around them.
“It can be as simple as checking in with a friend you are worried about, or alerting someone to behavior they might not see themselves,” says Wilmoth. “There are so many tools already within our reach. Green dot moments can be subtle, and simple, and creative.”
The WVU chapter of Gender Equality Movement, or GEM, agrees. The organization was founded to promote gender equality on campus, specifically by working for a safe and welcoming environment for all individuals. Throughout the year, GEM hosts various events to raise awareness, and get people talking. This fall, GEM hosted Take Back the Night, a national initiative, to support and empower victims of sexual violence.
This spring, the student organization joins the global effort to stop violence against women and girls by participating in the V-Day movement. On February 14, members of GEM and the WVU and Morgantown communities will come together in solidarity to support the international One Billion Rising parade, sponsored by Goddess Project WV. Participants will meet on the Mountainlair Green at 5:30 p.m. and then march down High Street to the Courthouse Square. All are welcome.
On February 22 and 23, GEM will be sponsoring performances of Eve Ensler’s award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues, in the Mountainlair Ballrooms. Tickets are available for $10 at the door.
Miranda Miller, president of GEM and a senior in the School of Social Work, says events like these provide an outlet for the victims of both direct and indirect violence. They empower people to stand up and have a voice. And most importantly, “it gives everyone a chance to heal.”
Miller also feels it is important to recognize the global movement inspired by V-Day.
“Participating in these events at WVU is such a powerful and fun experience. Knowing that women across the globe are performing these same monologues, dancing and marching for One Billion Rising, and much more for the goal of ending violence is incredibly energizing.”
Wilmoth reminds us that awareness events, like Take Back the Night, are just the beginning. They are the call to action. But without action, they are just calls and do not make real change. Each day, we must remember, “it’s either do something, or do nothing.”
For more information about GEM, and how you can get involved, please contact Miranda Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Green Dot initiative, or WELLWVU, please call 304-293-3568.