By Renae Prater
Campus Eye contributor
Anoka-Ramsey counselor Nancy Elk, 62, is the definition of a survivor. Throughout her life, she has been taken advantage of and beaten down by the people she should have been able to trust the most. Instead of staying on the ground, Elk picked herself up, created a new life for herself and now spends her time advocating for others.
Nancy Elk is a well-loved and respected teacher and counselor at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. She is happily married and has several grown children and grandchildren whom she adores. She loves her students and does all she can to help them succeed. She is also one of the leaders and a strong advocate for Anoka-Ramsey’s Green Dot club. According to the college’s website, the group meets to encourage and train students how to appropriately intervene in situations where they witness or suspect power-based personal violence. The Green Dot Program is named for the idea that the people who intervene in a situation are green dots and that the perpetrators are the red dots. The program has been traveling across the country from campus to campus since 2010.
Why is the Green Dot program so important to Elk? About three years ago, Elk’s daughter was abducted while at the store buying supplies for her granddaughter’s 16th birthday party. “After she had went in this store and come out, a man put a knife on her and forced her into her vehicle,” Elk said, “The man made her drive almost two hours and then had her turn into this wooded area and there he began to attempt to attack her.” Miraculously, Elk’s daughter was able to escape and run towards a gas station they had passed during the drive. Elk’s daughter was covered in defense wounds, however her emotional wounds dug much deeper than her physical wounds. “Her clothes were almost cut off of her body,” Elk said, “She said as she ran down the road, people came by and they would slow down and look at her. Some people even started pointing and laughing.” Elk’s daughter spent the next 10 days in the psych ward. “The thing that disturbed her the most, it wasn’t the man that abducted her but it was the people that stood around and did nothing … that’s what really broke her down.”
Elk later explained why this hit so close to home. “When I was married to my ex-husband … He was very abusive,” Elk said. “I got it into my head that I deserved what was happening to me.” This mindset was partly born at the hands of her father, who would reveal Elk’s whereabouts to her ex-husband whenever she would try to escape. This crippled her, “Because I got into that mindset, I never acted on somebody else’s behalf and that I’ve regretted.”
Elk does whatever she can to promote Green Dot and encourage others to intervene in situations of power–based personal violence. “We [want to] be a hero for that individual and sometimes … it’s nothing more than just asking somebody ‘Are you okay? Is there something I can do?’ … And then sometimes it’s making a call to the police when you suspect something.”
If you desire to have the appropriate training to intervene in a potential red dot situation, Elk encourages students to attend the Green Dot Club, which meets every Thursday from 1:30-3 p.m. In addition, Elk shared some words of wisdom for victims of power-based personal violence. “Try to keep your mind about you,” Elk said. “When you lose control and become fearful, it can get worse.” Elk said victims should stay calm, be aware of their surroundings and avoid having an argument with their attacker. “Never counter a negative with a negative,” Elk warned. For all the negative that has occurred in Nancy Elk’s life, her positive testimony proves one can only gain from using good to fight the bad.