Why should men care about domestic violence?
Because men can stop violence: For domestic violence to stop, men who are violent must be empowered to make different choices. Every time a man’s voice joins those women in speaking out against violence, the world becomes safer for us all.
Because men listen to men: Men are more likely to listen to other men when it comes to the perpetration of domestic violence. Boys and young men look to their fathers and mentors for an example and can be taught that strong men respect women.
Because domestic violence is NOT a women’s issue: Family violence affects everyone and stems from sexist attitudes and behaviors. To stop violence, both men and women must work toward changing cultural norms and holding violators accountable.
Because violence costs: Domestic violence has huge socio-economic costs at both the household and community level. Violence causes loss of income, decreased productivity in the workplace and costs billions of dollars for healthcare, housing and social and legal services.
Because men work with survivors: Men are an integral part of the community that supports and interacts with families dealing with violence.They are the majority of judges, police officers, and doctors who work with families in crisis.
Because men know survivors: They are neighbors, friends, and family members of women suffering from violence. At some point in most men’s lives, someone close to them will ask for help. Men must be prepared to respond with care, compassion and understanding.
What can men do to help stop domestic violence?
Bell Bajao! urges men to become partners in ringing the bell and bringing domestic violence to a halt. Be part of the movement to put a halt to domestic violence by the following these steps:
Educate yourself: Read articles and books about masculinity, gender inequality, and the root causes of violence. Read women’s literature; educate yourself and others about the connections between larger social forces and the conflicts of individual men and women.
Be a role model: Set positive examples for other men, especially youth men and boys. Teach boys that strong men respect women and that violence is unacceptable. Act as a mentor to a child who lacks and positive male figure in his life.
Challenge other men: One of the most difficult things for men who oppose violence against women is to learn to challenge other men. Challenge men to drop sexist language from their vocabulary. Challenge men who talk lightly or joke about violence against women. Challenge men who engage in violence.
Reflect on your own behavior: Understand how your own attitudes and action perpetuate sexism and violence and work toward changing them. If you have been violent towards a woman, then urgently seek help and support to change abusive behavior.
Support change: Support candidates for political office who are committed to the full social, economic and political equality of women. Fight for funding for outreach services and women’s shelters. Organize and participate in groups working to end domestic violence and sexism.
Listen and learn from the women in your life: Ask a woman who trust you how violence has affected her life. Ask how they want to be supported and what they think men can do to stop domestic violence. Believe women and support them when they confide in you about being abused.
Reach out: Reach out to a family where domestic violence is present. Just offering to listen and acknowledging what is going on helps chip away at the walls that surround and isolate families living with abuse.
Don’t fund sexism: Don’t purchase any magazine, rent any video or buy any music that portrays women in a sexually degrading or violent manner. Protest sexism in the media.
Confront sexist, racist, homophobic and other oppressive remarks to jokes: Sexist jokes encourage and support a climate where forms of violence and abuse have too long been accepted. When your friend tells a joke about rape, say you don’t find it funny. Don’t remain silent.
Use inclusive, non-sexist language: Words are very powerful and sexist language sends a message that women are less than fully human
Sources: Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (http://www.mcedv.org/getinvolved/men.htm), Men Can Stop Rape (http://mencanstoprape.org), Harvard Anti-Sexist Man (http://pagesperso-orange.fr/centralparkattacks/men.html)