I needed bystander intervention and no one helped me: How FSU’s Green Dot program is saving lives

I’m lucky to be here

We’ve all been there – we've seen the girl who can barely stumble out of the bar. After our eyes make contact with her languid body, we watch and wait until we can verify that her friends, or some other trustworthy people, are helping her get home.

Or we might just reassure ourselves that somebody will help her. Right? We might convince ourselves that she’ll be okay – that she’ll get home safe. Nothing bad will really happen to her… Right?

How many times have you ignored her? Worse yet, how many times have you ignored her because you blamed her? She did it to herself, right? She’ll pay the consequences. Right?


Last weekend, I could have died because no one made the decision to help. Piecing together the events of that night has been both terrifying and exhausting. Most notably, it has been infuriating. I am sharing my story to remind my fellow FSU student body of the important role they play as bystanders.

I’m still unsure if I was drugged. Yes, I could have simply had too much to drink on the pretense of a low alcohol tolerance, thanks to grad school applications and post-grad planning. But because I didn’t immediately go to the hospital, there isn’t a way to ever know for certain. What I do know is that I was found passed out alone in in the hallway of an apartment complex I don't live in. I do know that the last thing I remember is being safe with my friends in the sunshine. I do know the next thing I know, I’m waking up at 4:30am on my neighbor’s bathroom floor, phoneless, keyless, and purseless – body suit unbuttoned, pants unzipped. What I do know is that a girl chose to leave me, unable to stand, with a group of guys rather than try to help me.

Everyone thinks that they are out to have an innocent good time until they’re not. This is why alcohol-related fatalities, instances of violence, and sexual assaults occur at such an alarming rate. This is the sobering reality of college drinking culture and our responsibility to help a god damn sister out.

That evening, I had unknowingly and accidentally entered into a situation where I had no control. It was, unfortunately, up to the people around me to make sure that I stayed alive that night… And the girl I was around knew I “wouldn’t make it far” when she chose to let me fend for myself.

Because this person made these sober decisions, I could have died. I could have been sexually assaulted. I could have become just another college-aged, alcohol-related fatality. And it was as if she didn’t care.

In order to keep the FSU student body safe, there must be a change. This affects far too many people, of all demographics, for there to not be more bystander intervention.

FSU’s Green Dot progam tries to combat this culture by offering bystander intervention trainings and classes.

The Green Dot certification program is online and FREE to both Florida State students and faculty members. Not only is obtaining your Green Dot certification a dazzling addition to your resume, it also truly gives you the power to save someone’s life.

I spoke with Samantha Jones, a senior here at FSU who is double majoring in International Affairs and Editing, Writing, and Media. Sam is Green Dot trained and involved with FSU’s kNOw More campaign, which seeks to support, respond to, and prevent sexual misconduct.

Sam told me that Green Dot is a program that trains you on how to be an active bystander in cases of power-based personal violence (domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking) so that you can safely and effectively intervene when someone around you is at risk of being harmed or assaulted. It’s effective for bystander intervention of any kind, and especially helpful when you least expect it.

Samantha explained that “green dots” are actions taken to prevent “red dots,” which are potential/real acts of violence. Green dots can be proactive (making sure a friend gets home safe, educating peers on consent) or reactive (creating a distraction to help someone get out of an uncomfortable situation, letting an authority figure know if someone is acting suspicious, driving someone home who is heavily intoxicated, etc.). As she spoke, I realized more and more that the program was designed for easy retention.

She also said me that one of the biggest green dot tactics covered in the course is the concept of “the 3Ds.” Direct, Distract, and Delegate. “To be direct, you can directly ask if the person is okay or directly address any offending behavior. To distract, you can strike up a conversation with the affected person, outside of the dangerous situation, or pull them closer to you. Finally, to delegate, you can alert a security guard. It’s that simple.”

This is just the beginning of the bountiful knowledge available (for free) in this course. To get the rest, register NOW at www.knowmore.fsu.edu to get certified!

There were many things that went wrong last weekend, but there were also many things that went right. For that, I feel so incredibly lucky and grateful. I know that there have been many who were in my exact situation who, heartbreakingly so, weren’t so lucky.

That girl actively chose to leave me, unable to stand, with a group of college guys. I want to do everything in my power to make sure that kind of choice is never made again.

We must watch each other’s backs. As a community, we need to educate ourselves on how to be better, more aware people. So go get your free Green Dot certification. Remind yourself that it’s okay to step in and help a sister out. We’re all out here, doing this shit alone; let’s choose to help each other whenever we can.

Florida State University