Where are the men?
It’s a question that is lately being asked more and more often, and rightly so. Our culture, and even our own movement, has historically viewed the eradication of domestic violence as a women’s issue. But today there is increasing recognition that abuse profoundly impacts all genders, and more and more men are joining the fight to end all forms of violence against women.
At MCEDV, the work to involve men is not new. Over the years, we have developed strong partnerships with men across community sectors, including law enforcement, media, and the medical community. We have developed new materials, reaching out to male victims of abuse. And several years ago, we started the Engaging Men Program in an effort to focus prevention efforts directly on young men and boys in settings outside of the traditional classroom. The idea: let’s teach boys values of respect, equality and nonviolence, and prevent abuse before it occurs.
We have had many partners in this work, including the Verizon Foundation, which provided funding so that MCEDV could bring the Coaching Boys into Men curriculum to Maine. Developed by Futures Without Violence, CBIM engages athletic coaches, who often play pivotal mentorship roles, to help shape the attitudes and behaviors of young male athletes. Last year MCEDV hosted a train-the-trainer event for Maine's domestic violence resource centers, which then brought the programming back to their own regions. The emphasis is on local, on finding the approach that works best for a given community.
One standout example has been Family Crisis Services, Cumberland County’s domestic violence resource center, which recently produced a PSA featuring the South Portland Red Riots. Also with support from the Verizon Foundation, FCS staff train coaches in the curriculum at the beginning of each season. After that, it is up to the coaches to integrate the program in the way that works best for their teams. The approach has been popular, and has caught on like wildfire at South Portland High. Says Carlin Whitehous, a Youth Educator with FCS: “A lot of men care about this issue and think violence against women needs to stop, but don’t know how to start. This provides an entry point.”
So where are the men? More and more, they are standing with us.