By Karen Wanjico
interim health education
To do a reactive green dot, you need to be able to spot the red dot moment. Before you do a green dot, think about safety. Safety is a larger concern the more imminent the red dot is and the more isolated you are.
In cases where the red dot is happening, such as when an assault is taking place, it is best to get more help. This might mean getting a group of people to step in, or using law enforcement to step in. Think about your own safety first. I remember hearing of a woman who observed a man assaulting his partner. She happened to be in her vehicle so she drove to where they were, and stayed in her locked vehicle, and then laid on the horn. The horn was loud enough to get the man’s attention and to get others to call the police. The assault ended.
You cannot end violence with violence, so take a moment to think of what approach would be best. One man saw his friend was about to take a very drunk woman home for the night. He told his friend, “If you take her home, it’s going to make you look bad. Let’s find her friends.” Because he didn’t confront his friend in an accusing way, but did it as an ally, it worked.
A friend of mine saw an event happening between a couple on the street. He approached the man and said, “Man to man, you have to admit this doesn’t look good. Can you take a minute to calm down?” He said this while stepping backwards and using a non-aggressive stance. After a few minutes, it worked.
The main thing is, when you see something that looks like a red dot, it’s OK to take a minute to strategize. What approach will work best? What approach will preserve your safety? A lot of time if you intervene early, you can do your green dot before things have escalated. Remember, safety first.