Green Dot Bystander Intervention

Green Dot bystander intervention: Reducing and ending power-based personal violence

Green Dot is a program that empowers all of us to step into the vital role of being a good bystander. Knowing how and when to speak up helps prevent power-based interpersonal violence from occurring on our campus. The Green Dot program is for all students, faculty, and staff at IU Indianapolis, and it is facilitated through training sessions. You’ll build skills for intervening in situations in a way that fits your individual comfort level and skills.

While one person may not be able to change the entire culture of our campus, each of our individual actions will lead to a culture that does not stand for sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking.

Why Green Dot?

Green Dot has been used in training 50+ colleges and universities across the U.S., as well as in high schools, the Air Force, and community programs.

In a study of high schools across Kentucky, Green Dot was estimated to have prevented approximately 120 instances of sexual violence in the third year of implementation and 88 instances of sexual violence in the fourth year of implementation. Sexual assault perpetration rates were 21% lower in intervention schools, and sexual assault victimization rates were 13% lower. Similar patterns were observed for dating violence, stalking, and sexual harassment perpetration and victimization.

Green Dot’s focus on individual actions as bystanders empowers participants toward culture change.

How to request a Green Dot training

Our team would love to train you on the Green Dot bystander intervention program. Currently, we’re focusing on training faculty and staff, and we will open up trainings to students soon. To request a Green Dot training for your faculty or staff group, please fill out our online form.

Definitions and more information

Bystander, Green Dot, intervention—these all might be new concepts for you. We recognize that can be overwhelming, so we’ve compiled some information to introduce you to the Green Dot program.


A green dot is a single moment in time when someone makes a choice to intervene and prevent a red dot from happening or getting worse. Imagine a green dot appearing on our campus.

As we add more green dots to our campus, we will begin to outnumber and displace the red dots, causing incidents of power-based violence (sexual assaults, dating/domestic violence, and stalking) to decrease.

It is important for us all to develop realistic solutions to intervene, even when it is difficult.

Imagine that every time an act of power-based personal violence occurs, a red dot appears on our campus. Red dots include incidents of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking. Here are some examples of when a red dot might appear:

  • Each time someone makes a single choice to use their words or actions to hurt someone in our community.
  • The moment it takes to hit someone.
  • A single choice to have sex with someone without their explicit consent.
  • The small choices someone makes to show up, unwanted, at someone’s work, class, gym, etc.

Over time, these red dots add up and too many people in our community are harmed. This creates a culture that allows unacceptable rates of sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking to occur.

We have a key role in preventing red dots from happening in our community. As bystanders, we play two major roles in addressing power-based violence:

  • We can react when we see warning signs to make it less likely someone gets hurt.
  • We can clearly communicate that power-based personal violence is NOT okay, and that we expect everyone to look out for each other.

Bystanders are people who witness a high-risk situation and are in a position to intervene. Bystanders can also define the norms of our campus community and decide what will and will not be tolerated in our community.

As a bystander, you may know the person doing the harm, the person being harmed, or even both. Remember, people of all genders are at risk for power-based personal violence.

As bystanders, the warning signs we notice can be different, and what we notice can change depending on our relationships with the people involved. Below are common warning signs you may notice as a bystander.

For sexual assault:

  • Pushing drinks on someone.
  • Separating someone from their friends, co-workers, or peers in a work or social situation.
  • Engaging in sexual contact with someone who is asleep or passed out.
  • Engaging in any sexual activity that is not wanted.

For dating/domestic violence:

  • Controlling time, money, dress, social life, or decisions.
  • Name-calling.
  • Isolating someone from their friends, family, or co-workers.
  • Physical abuse, like shoving, hitting, pushing, punching, or strangling.

 For stalking:

  • Unwanted calling, texting, or emailing.
  • Showing up where someone is, like at work, the gym, outside of class, etc.
  • Following someone in a car or on a walk.
  • Damaging property.

Even when we notice warning signs and have the impulse to intervene, sometimes it can be difficult to do something due to our own barriers. We all have barriers that prevent us from intervening sometimes.

  • Personal barriers could be:
    • Fear of embarrassment or retaliation.
    • Fear of escalation or getting hurt.
    • Being uncertain about what to do.

  • Relationship/social barriers could be:
    • Being concerned with how your friends, classmates, or co-workers will react if you get involved.

  • Organizational/general barriers could be:
    • Having no support in your department
    • The person who is doing the red dots is a supervisor.
    • Pressure to “stay in your own lane.”

There are two types—reactive green dots and proactive green dots.

Reactive green dots are what you can do when you see something concerning happening. It can be a reaction to something in progress to either stop the action or prevent more harm from happening. There are three reactive green dot options. You should utilize the one that is most realistic for you.

  • Address the situation yourself by approaching any of the people involved. Do something yourself.
  • Get someone else to intervene, such as a supervisor, friends of the people involved, a bartender, an RA, a coach, etc.
  • Create a distraction that will diffuse or interrupt the situation. You could ask someone to drive you home, ask to borrow a phone or charger, or interrupt and start a different conversation.

Proactive green dots are things you can do to stop red dots before they occur. They help set positive norms. To create these norms, we must DO and SAY things to let those around us know our values. Norms are set by small decisions.

Proactive green dots reset our campus norms and make it clear that:

  1. Sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking are not okay.
  2. Everyone is expected to do their part to help.

Consider this question: How do I communicate to my friends, co-workers, and peers that power-based personal violence prevention efforts are important to me?

Examples of proactive green dots:

  • Talk about it. Have conversations with friends, co-workers, or peers about prevention or power-based personal violence in general.
  • Social media. Post links to news stories and videos about bystander intervention, add comments that express support for green dot efforts, and like or share positive comments by others.
  • Work life. Include a statement supporting the IU Indianapolis Green Dot program in your email signature, start meetings with a conversation about the role everyone is playing in prevention, or talk about a Green Dot training you may have attended.
  • Social life. Be a role model. Have conversations about intervening, or volunteer to support the Green Dot program or other prevention efforts.