Part 2: Emerging Technology as a Tool for Bystander Engagement

Dear Engaged Bystander: Here is the second part of a great conversation with Marianne Winters of Graphix for Change.

Joan: So given your expertise, how do we meet these challenges using this technology?

Marianne: Here's the challenge to those of us working in organizations addressing sexual violence. To the general public seeking basic information, our knowledge base is one of the best kept secrets on the internet. Search engines have certain rules. They find information based on their matrices that involve key words, phrases, and links to good information. Search engines don't discern between survivor-centered and supportive messages and victim-blaming non-supportive messages.

We can meet this challenge by strategically building our expert status. We need to create and publish the website pages, blog posts, articles, and links to the information that we know bystanders need. We can do this by getting savvy about how the internet finds and prioritizes information and optimizing our own websites to respond.

Joan: Do you have any advice for organizations moving forward?

Marianne: From the technology end, we need to realize that the internet which at first was a convenient place for organizations to post an electronic version of their brochures and reports, is now an interactive, changing, breathing thing. Many organizations are now catching up to this trend and they're seeing results. The organizations and the messages that rise to the top are building websites that also become platforms for news and information, for discussion and trends. These website are more than just posted information, they help communities engage and connect, they attract donors and supporters - in these situations, their work is more often coming up on the front page. Yes it changes things, it often requires changing job descriptions, workplans, updating skills, and increasing knowledge, but the payoff can be huge - survivors can more easily find you, donors can more readily support you, communities can more easily engage with you.

Joan: What does that mean for bystander work?

Marianne: When building your platforms, think about your audiences. When you post information, be sure to think about how it will be read by survivors and then how it will be read by the friends and families of survivors and victims. You may also want to consider what it means to be reach out to people who may know someone at risk to abuse or to someone who has not really thought about the issue much. If you find ways to interact with ALL of these audiences, you will have built a much more interactive and responsive conversation for your organization and your community.

If you are using your website as a platform to engage bystanders, we'd love to hear about it.

Marianne Winters is a leader in the movement to end and address sexualized and domestic violence and is passionate about progressive movements that are visionary, inclusive, current, responsive and proactive. Some would say that she's "all over the place". She prefers to say that she thrives on variety and is energized by the multi-faceted, never ending, interconnected and always exciting work of social change. She is the Project Diva for Graphix for Change and consultant and trainer for Praxis for Change.