For over 35 years, we have recognized Domestic Violence Awareness Month every October. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the term includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. It is estimated that about 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner or family member in the United States.
Given the avalanche of reporting on sexual assault and violence over the last several weeks and months, it’s important that we continue to promote healthy attitudes and behaviors between genders, which can go a long way toward reducing the numbers of victims across the country. We also need to have a better understanding about how we got here in the first place.
Whether female or male, at some point in our lives we have all been told to “man up”, “toughen up,” or “win at all costs.” These terms have created an unofficial measure by which we are judged “ beginning in the playground, throughout our school years, and into adulthood’ we take this language out into our world. Much like with females, media and marketing messages have set the standard for a man’s worth, demonstrating that a “man” always got the girl, found the treasure, won the battle, and never grew old or weary.
These images, according to research, not only convince boys and men they need to be “more” but they have also manipulated girls and women to expect and accept these behaviors from men. And psychologists note the significant relationship between the “macho” mindset and a direct correlation with violence, particularly domestic and sexual violence against girls and women.
These statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rank violence against women as the number one threat to women’s health.
In the United States:
- every 15 seconds, a woman is beaten
- more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends
- women experience two million injuries from intimate partner violence each year
- one in four women reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life
- domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44
Shifting this deeply entrenched culture is a huge task. But there are things we can do and we need to get started. “If women could end this problem, it would be over,” notes Tony Porter, co-founder of A Call to Men, a national organization challenging men to revise their long held gender beliefs in an effort to address and end violence against women (www.acalltomen.org). Here are his recommendations:
10 Things Men Can Do To Prevent Domestic and Sexual Violence
- Acknowledge how male dominance and aspects of unhealthy manhood are at the foundation of domestic and sexual violence.
- Examine and challenge individual beliefs and the role that we play in supporting men who are abusive.
- Recognize and stop colluding with other men by taking a stance to prevent domestic and sexual violence.
- Remember that silence is affirming; when we choose not to speak out against domestic and sexual violence, we are supporting it.
- Educate and re-educate our sons and other young men about our responsibility in preventing domestic and sexual violence.
- Break out of the stereotypes: Challenge traditional images of manhood that stop us from actively taking a stand in domestic and sexual violence prevention.
- Accept our responsibility that domestic and sexual violence will not end until men become part of the solution to end it; take an active role in creating a cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence and discrimination against women and girls.
- Stop supporting the notion that domestic and sexual violence is due to mental illness, lack of anger management skills, chemical dependency, stress, etc.
- Take responsibility for creating ways to educate and raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence prevention.
- Create responsible and accountable men’s initiatives in the community to support domestic and sexual violence prevention.
It’s up to organizations like Chrysalis to help create a community where every person is loving and respectful, valued and safe.