Community joins VIP

By Sarah Rayan

The UK Violence Intervention and Prevention Center aimed to engage members of the community in finding new ways to prevent violence against women at the Green Dot Kentucky Summit on Violence Prevention hosted Monday.

The event, held on behalf of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association and the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, is one of many steps the VIP Center has taken toward reducing the number of occurrences of violence against women in Kentucky. During their time at UK, women have a one in three chance of becoming a victim of violence, said Dorothy Edwards, director of the VIP Center.

The center created a program called Green Dot, which is a model of violence intervention. The green dot is a metaphor that refers to any behavior, choice, statement or attitude that is actively intolerant of this violence, Edwards said.

“A green dot is having a conversation with a colleague about the importance of local prevention effort, making a donation to a local domestic violence program, noticing a high risk situation and making the choice to get involved,” Edwards said.

Nearly 150 people attended the summit, including state legislatures and small business owners, and discussed ways law enforcement officials, legislators, community organizers, educators, doctors, lawyers and small business owners can contribute to the solution of this problem.

“(The summit) was incredibly strong and the idea of changing our culture to non-tolerance of violence, sexual, and domestic is a breathtaking view,” said Pat Gerhard, owner of Third Street Stuff and Coffee who participated in the event. “Educating bystanders to the point of view that violence is not acceptable is the obvious path to take because the approach from the victim level is not working in reducing these abuses. It was inspiring and energizing.”

Christy Burch-Epperson, assistant director of the VIP Center, said events like this really make a difference in coming up with new ways to reduce the number of UK students who are affected by acts of violence against women.

“It’s absolutely exciting that people all across the state of Kentucky are coming together for a common goal to prevent violence,” Burch-Epperson said. “As part of the summit, participants discuss how business, education, media, government, faith organizations and many other groups can generate green dots.”

63 percent of UK female students have experienced at least one incident of violence in their lifetime, according to the VIP Center Web site. 36.5 percent of female students will be victims of sexual assault, physical or stalking, while at UK.