Digging Deeper: Standing up to sexual assault
WARWICK, R.I. —
A crowded country music concert, packed with 18,000 fans.
Police said some of those fans stood by as a 17-year-old girl was raped at the Xfinity Center during a Keith Urban concert last month.
Several witnesses were taking video and photos with their cell phones.
It wasn't until one woman in the crowd pulled the man off the girl that the alleged rape stopped.
"We want to get more folks than not, more often than not, intervening," said Jessy Lyons, associate director of Green Dot.
That's the idea behind a nationwide program called Green Dot.
Representatives from Rhode Island's colleges and universities gathered Friday in Warwick to learn how to spark green dots on their own campuses.
The green dot represents one moment in time, when one person makes a decision to stand up, speak up, or intervene and prevent a sexual assault or other violent act before it happens.
"If we put more green dots than red dots on our map, we're going to outnumber and displace the red dots, and the numbers would come down," Lyons said.
The numbers are sobering. One in five women is sexually assaulted during college, according to a recent White House report.
"The whole idea of Green Dot is we want to shift social norms to, violence is not tolerated on this campus or in this community, and everyone is expected to do their part," Lyons said.
A string of recent cases in Rhode Island has kept campus assaults in the news.
Brown University student Lena Schlove went public in April, saying the university mishandled the investigation after she was allegedly raped by a fellow student. Two Providence College basketball players were accused of sexual assault, but a grand jury found there wasn't enough evidence. Another young woman went to police in February, saying she was raped by two Brown University football players after a night out with friends. That case rests in the hands of the attorney general.
"Most students, most people want to do something. But they don't know how," said Sandra Malone of Day One, a non-profit that supports victims and works to prevent sexual violence. "There are more bystanders than there are the few people who are going to do harm."
The goal is to begin changes on college campuses that trickle down to local high schools.