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Virginia psychologist: intervention can defuse domestic violence

A Virginia psychologist has developed an innovative program to combat domestic violence, and it has been gaining national attention as well as inspiring the creation of programs based on its tenets of nonviolence, collective responsibility and recognition of the terrible costs of domestic violence to women, men and children alike.

Dorothy Edwards, who claims to have been a victim of domestic violence herself, created the "Green Dot" project based on her conclusion that methods that have been used in the past to discourage domestic violence -- such as public service messages that stress negative admonitions against violent and risky behaviors -- have seemed to be ineffective in reducing rates of domestic violence incidents. 

Green Dot methodology is based on a "bottom-up" approach that doesn't rely solely on the justice system to cope with domestic violence.  Instead it encourages individuals and groups of people to take proactive steps to identify and safely intervene in situations where the possibility of domestic violence is developing. The intervention may be undertaken by a person who sees the brewing domestic violence circumstances, or that person might notify a more appropriate authority or first responder.  However the situation is handled, the essential idea is to act before the matter turns violent.

Many times the intervention simply means distracting people, saying something to shift their mental focus out of a state of anger and giving them time to collect themselves again. Other situations might call for more direct action, such as placing oneself in between two people before one of them becomes violent.

What to do may depend on the personal assessment of the person seeking to prevent the violence, but doing nothing in a troubled domestic situation is what the Green Dot method considers unacceptable. It is also a good idea for a person who feels they are victim of domestic violence to speak with an attorney to better understand and protect their safety and their rights. 

Source: Anchorage Daily News, "Green Dot: Crime prevention as a new social movement," Jill Burke, May 11, 2014

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