Tag Archives: Power of One

What is the Power of One? An Open Letter

Dear “Power of One” Campaign,

Your Power of One social marketing campaign at the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) tells people that one person can make a difference, can do their part to stop sexual assault.  We applaud the fact that you’re not worried that this approach individualizes the problem of sexual violence.  You frame this strategy as primary prevention because it can stop sexual assault before it begins.  You say that people “have options when it comes to stopping sexual violence.”  In fact, you say that “even when it is hard, there is always something you can do. By taking a stand, you can help stop sexual violence in your community. ”   To this end, you use the Green Dot Program’s framework to say that people have “the Three D’s”: They can be Direct, Distract, and Delegate.  These are quoted below so people can see how you frame these three Ds.

1. You can be DIRECT.
Walk up and intervene. Respectfully ask that the offender stop the behavior and explain to them why it’s wrong.

2. You can DISTRACT.
Use a diversion to stop the behavior. Walk up and ask for directions or ask for the time. If it’s someone you know, talk about something you have in common with them.

3. You can DELEGATE.
Ask a friend, use the buddy system or call your local authorities to stop the behavior.

We agree that if everyone does their small part, we can help prevent sexual violence of any kind!  We just want to add a very crucial fourth D.

4. You can DEFEND yourself.

Move, shove, state “NO” firmly, shout “STOP!”, kick the groin or head, and resist the attacker with the goal of stopping the attacker and getting yourself to safety.  You can get help with these strategies by taking a self-defense training course, which emphasizes awareness, taking yourself seriously, verbal boundary setting and, finally, physical techniques for enforcing boundaries.

Oddly, your MCASA website lists self-defense classes as risk reduction rather than as primary prevention, despite the scholarly literature that establishes self-defense as primary prevention.   

We love that you want people to be engaged bystanders.  But of course we can be bystanders on our own behalves, too.  Women have historically been the caretakers of partners, children, and their communities.  It’s time we care for ourselves, too, and stand up for ourselves.  Bring in the bystander? Sure. But be your own bystander, too.  Be your own number one advocate.  Yeah, bring it! 

Love, 

Jill & Martha

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