It’s Monday morning at work. One of your co-workers, Dave, keeps texting his ex. They broke up a few weeks ago and it seemed OK, but now Dave is becoming consumed with trying to revive this relationship. You respect your co-worker but know he’s crossing the line with his behavior. You say, “Dave, he’s not into you anymore. Let it go.”
It’s Wednesday night. You’re hanging out with some friends, and one of them, Jake, is on his laptop. You see over his shoulder that he’s searching escort ads online. You think this is a bad idea – it’s cold and unfeeling, not to mention illegal. You say, “Jake, I wouldn’t do it. It’s not right.”
It’s Friday night. You’re at the bar downtown with your friends, enjoying a few drinks and talking about the work week. You see your favorite server, Nicole, being harassed by a guy who’s clearly had too much to drink. Nicole keeps deflecting this customer’s advances, but he won’t let up. You and a friend walk over and say, “We heard her say no, so back off.”
All of these scenarios illustrate the concept of bystander intervention, where someone in a position to intervene in a potentially harmful or dangerous situation does just that. In the past, effective bystander intervention campaigns have focused on creating an “out” for a victim or stopping the immediate behavior of an offender. As prevention work evolves, organizations are seeing it necessary to widen the conversation to address offender behavior, especially men holding other men accountable.
Where Do You Stand? is a new awareness campaign created by CAWS North Dakota and national partner Men Can Stop Rape. Four scenarios encourage bystanders to intervene and prevent sexual assault, while starting conversations about how unhealthy expressions of masculinity increase violence against women. The scenarios also address behavior such as intimate partner stalking, buying sex, group intervention, and making a visible commitment to prevent violence in the community.
Products include large posters, postcards with intervention strategies on the back, beverage coasters, and all-weather yard signs that promote “the kind of guys who take a stand.” Informational kits have been assembled that contain information about the campaign, a brochure about the wider Healthy Masculinity Initiative (HeMI), a guide for employers to develop victim-centered violence policies, statewide resources, and campaign product samples. All products are free and make a great tool to do outreach with men and boys in your community.
So why focus on men? Men who are business owners, community leaders, educators, coaches, elected officials, faith leaders, or youth leaders have enormous potential to positively influence men and boys in North Dakota. Most men don’t commit violence, but their silence toward the men who do speaks volumes. Men who treat women and girls as “less than,” display sexist behaviors and attitudes, or relate to unhealthy stereotypes of masculinity thrive in a culture where their behavior is not questioned. So we need people, especially more men, to stand up and speak out.
To make the campaign diverse enough to work in communities across the state, CAWS North Dakota worked with a local photographer, Final Proof Photography, to create custom imagery for the four messages, reflecting urban, rural, college, blue collar, and oilfield environments, for a total of eight designs. North Dakota men served as models for the campaign, adding a layer of authenticity and meaning to the project. Making sure the campaign “felt” like the changing North Dakota we see was an important part of the customization process. Volunteers from the Men’s Action Network in the Fargo-Moorhead area, with support from Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, were integral to the completion of this campaign.
To get free campaign materials or information kit, contact your local advocacy center – a directory is available online at www.ndcaws.org. Larger quantities of materials are also available from the CAWS North Dakota office at 525 N. 4th Street.
Funding for the project came via the Office on Violence Against Women, Department of Justice, under the Engaging Men in Preventing Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Grant Program.