Five Ways for Men to Speak Up Against Domestic Violence
Speaking out against domestic violence is critical to ending it. Here are five simple steps for how to have this vital conversation.
Call 911. Be a bridge to help and safety.
If you suspect domestic violence (or any other crime) is happening, don't think of it as a "private matter" or simply "none of your business". Get involved. Use your voice to connect someone to life-saving resources like the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233). Verizon Wireless customers can simply dial #HOPE to be connected to the Hotline. If you believe someone is in imminent danger, please call 911.
Be vocal against disrespectful behaviors and language. Hold men accountable for their speech and conduct.
If we witness disrespectful behavior or language and don't speak out against it, we are part of the problem. Speak up and say something when you see others threatening violence, using disrespectful language or making degrading jokes. When engaging other men, we need to do this man-to-man in a way that does not indict men as perpetrators, but invites them to become part of the solution to end domestic violence.
Teach our youth.
It's never too early to teach respect and a view of a healthy relationship. Talk to youth in your life about what it means to be a respectful man and to value women and girls. Educate your sons that violence and abuse are wrong. Starting today, we can help our youth to understand that calling a girl a degrading name or saying it as part of a lyric to a song supports and tolerates abusive behavior. Together, we can help teach our youth about what it means to have a healthy and respectful relationship.
Ask women about their experiences.
Any woman or girl subjected to abusive behavior or degrading language is someone's daughter, friend or colleague. She's probably also someone's sister, partner or mother. It is the same for any man or boy subjected to abuse. Think about those in your life. How would you feel if you witnessed them being abused or disrespected? Many people think that domestic violence and harassment happens to other people. We invite you to ask your family members and friends about their life experiences. You might be surprised by what you hear. You can use this experience to motivate yourself to get more involved and speak out against violence and abuse.
If you have experienced domestic violence or other abuse, know that your voice counts too.
If you have experienced domestic violence or other abuse, know that you are not alone and that there are resources for you. As you work to prevent domestic violence, please know that your healing and wellness are a priority as well. To learn more about resources available to you, please visit thehotline.org.
How to Start the Conversation
A great way to raise awareness and educate others is within the teachable moments that happen in everyday conversations and experiences. We want to be intentional about seizing these moments while allowing the interaction to be sparked naturally. So look for an everyday experience or current event to invite another man to speak up against domestic violence.
- With a friend
- With your son
- With your peer
- With another coach
- With your co-worker
- With a bystander
- With a survivor
- With your student
- With a team member
A conversation with a friend
A commercial during a football game that has women as the brunt of the joke or has a message that is degrading and disrespectful towards women and girls can perpetuate violence. A simple matter-of-fact statement like, "that offends me" can have a huge impact and create an opportunity for future dialogue.
A conversation with your son
When we have "the talk" with our teenage boys as they begin to show an interest in dating, we want to include points about respect and value for girls in that conversation. As fathers and well-meaning men, we want to model and teach that girls and women are free to be who they are and that we do not want to "control" them. For example, asking for her passwords to her phone or Facebook or calling and texting to know her whereabouts at all times is not what respectful men do.
A conversation with your peer
If a classmate harasses or bullies a young woman or young man on the street or in the hallway at school, you, as a friend, can say, "I'm surprised that you would say that," or, "That's not cool." You might point out that, "If a guy said that to my sister or brother, I would be angry."
A conversation with another coach
You hear a well-meaning coach say to an athlete that he's "throwing like a girl," for instance. That is a wonderful opportunity to educate the coach that girls throw just fine and that by bringing gender into the discussion, he is reinforcing a belief that women are "less than" men. It's wrong, and using this language is actually harmful to girls, that boy and others who may have heard the comment.
A conversation with your co-worker
We know that one in four women experience domestic violence and in the majority of cases, their workplaces and work performance can be significantly impacted as a result. Every so often a domestic violence incident makes its way into the news. Take that time to bring it up with a coworker and discuss how help is available. Then ask your employer or manager if they can share a note to the larger team addressing the seriousness of domestic violence and how we can all do our part to help end it.
A conversation with a bystander
A woman shares with you that another woman she knows is a victim of domestic violence. She goes on to say that, "if women would just listen to their husbands they would be better off." You can use this as an opportunity to share your understanding of domestic violence. For instance, you can say, "In my experience, men who are violent or abusive to women are trying to dominate and control women. There are many respectful ways to communicate and using any type of violence or abuse in a relationship is wrong and never the victim's fault."
A conversation with a survivor
Someone decides to share with you their own experience of abuse. For some this may feel like a challenging conversation to have. We may feel pulled to try and make it better or somehow fix the situation. However, the most helpful thing we can do is listen, believe and care. There are no magic words to say that make it better, but by listening and believing we are actively stopping the isolation and shame that often accompanies the silence.
A conversation with your student
A young man in the high school or college where you teach is confronting his girlfriend about not letting him read her text messages and you overhear their conversation. As a teacher, you use this as an opportunity to educate outside the classroom. You can say, "When you get angry with your girlfriend for not sharing things that are hers or that are private, that can be considered controlling behavior and even abusive. I want you to think about that and how you feel when your privacy or freedom is challenged."
A conversation with an athlete on your team
You hear one of your team captains say to other teammates, "Hey, you're all playing like a bunch of women!" Try pulling the captain to the side away from others and explain, in a very supportive but firm tone, "How about you try motivating the team by not devaluing women and girls?" Remind your captain that you see him as a leader and role model to his peers, and as a leader, he has a responsibility to motivate responsibly and model respectful behavior—on and off the field. "So, what I'm doing—what we as a team need to do— is motivate ourselves without devaluing women or girls. I hope you will join us in that."
- 180 Turning Lives Aroundwww.180nj.org/
- A CALL TO MENwww.acalltomen.org
- Casa de Esperanzahttp://www.casadeesperanza.org/
- Coalition Against Domestic Violencewww.ncadv.org/
- Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violencewww.caepv.org
- Domestic Abuse Projectwww.domesticviolenceproj.org/
- Emerge (Boston)www.emergedv.com
- Futures Without Violencewww.futureswithoutviolence.org/section/our_work/men_and_boys
- Gay Men's Domestic Violence Projectwww.gmdvp.org
- Gloucester Men Against Domestic Abusewww.strongmendontbully.com
- Haven Housewww.havenhousenc.org/
- HopeLine® from Verizonwww.verizonwireless.com/hopeline
- The International Men's March to Stop Rape,
Sexual Assault & Gender Violencewww.walkamileinhershoes.org
- Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violencewww.janedoe.org/
- Jenesse Centerjenesse.org/
- Jersey Battered Womenwww.jbws.org/
- Joyful Heart Foundationwww.joyfulheartfoundation.org
- Man Up Campaignwww.manupcampaign.org
- Men Can Stop Rapewww.mencanstoprape.org
- Men Encouraging Non-Violence (Idaho)www.isu.edu/andersoncenter/Men/menindex.html
- Men's Resource Center (Massachusetts)www.mensresourcecenter.org
- Men Stopping Violencewww.menstoppingviolence.org
- Men Today, Men Tomorrow (Idaho)www.mentodayidaho.org
- Mentors in Violence Prevention (Boston)www.sportinsociety.org/vpd/mvp.php
- Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women www.mcbw.org/
- Mujeres Latinos en Actionwww.mujereslatinasenaccion.org/
- National Domestic Violence Hotlinewww.ndvh.org
- National Organization for Men Against Sexismwww.nomas.org
- Nebrasaka Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalitionndvsac.org/
- New York Anti-Violence Projectwww.avp.org
- Northwest Network (Seattle)www.nwnetwork.org
- REACH Beyond Domestic Violencewww.reachma.org/
- Safe Horizonhttp://www.safehorizon.org
- South Dakota Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault www.sdnafvsa.com/
- Sport in Society (Boston)www.northeastern.edu/sportinsociety
- Stand Up Guys www.standupguys.org/
- Transforming Communitieswww.transformcommunities.org
- Utah Domestic Violence Council udvc.org/
- White Ribbon Campaign (Canada)www.whiteribbon.ca