If you haven’t been the victim of intimate partner violence, you almost certainly know someone who has. It may be a female friend, relative or a co-worker.
According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 women in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by someone they know. I haven’t personally experienced this, but the work of building safe communities for women and girls can’t be left only up to survivors. It must be all of us.
What drew me to this work was the reaction of some to singer Chris Brown’s assault on his superstar girlfriend Rhianna. I was so troubled by the dialogue around it. Some asking, “what did she do to make him so mad?” or others saying, “they were just fighting.” I was especially troubled and saddened by young men and women who believed this. If young men and women believed that battered picture of Rhianna was just the result of acceptable “fighting” and not abuse…I felt their lives were in danger.
It was then, that I knew I had to do more than just show up and emcee events. It was time to get to work preventing violence against women and girls. Below is information I believe you will find useful in creating safe communities for women and girls where you are. Some of it is challenging. Changing the way we think isn’t easy. This is information I’ve come across in my work as a member of Men Stopping Violence and as a journalist.
Myths About Rape and Sex Abuse
Here is a segment on the myths about rape and sex abuse and why it’s important to bust these myths.
Top 5 Myths About Domestic Violence
Myths about domestic violence are dangerous with real life consequences. Victims often do not come forward for fear they won’t be believed or their reality will be minimized. Unfortunately, there is so much MISinformation out there about abuse, that’s often exactly what happens. There are more than five myths about domestic violence, but these are some of the most common.
- Myth: Men who are abusive have an anger management problem.
TRUTH: Men make a choice to be violent and controlling. Abusers make that choice because they see abuse as an avenue to get what they want. When there are consequences, abusers will choose a different, non-abusive avenue.
- Myth: Alcohol, drug use and high unemployment cause domestic violence.
TRUTH: An abuser may use those factors to rationalize abusive behavior, but drinking, drugs and unemployment do not cause someone to become an abuser.
- Myth: Only physical and sexual violence count as male violence against women.
TRUTH: Many tactics are used to abuse or control women. Even in relationships where physical violence has never been used, men who are abusive may still use tactics of control to get what they want in the relationship.
- Myth: You can tell a man who batters by looking at him.
TRUTH: Truth there is no profile for a batterer. Men across every socio-economic status, age, race, and sexual orientation can use abusive tactics in their relationships.
- Myth: Women are the only ones who are affected by male violence against women.
TRUTH: Male violence against women is an issue that affects all of us. Men who abuse lose relationships, employment, and friends. Victims may miss work and seek medical attention. Our communities are burdened by responding to violence. When we think of violence against women as only affecting women, we lose sight of the real impact it has on all of us.
Men Stopping Violence
Men Stopping Violence is a group that works to build safe communities for women and girls by asking men to hold each other accountable.
During my time as a member of the board of MSV, I’ve been so impressed with the focus on prevention. Tragically, there will always be a need for domestic violence shelters if we don’t prevent the abuse. We can all play a role in that.
The recommendations below are targeted to men, but we can all learn something from this brief list.
5 Things You Can Do To Prevent Violence Against Women
* The following recommendations come from Men Stopping Violence.
- Approach preventing violence against women as a man’s responsibility.
Male violence against women will stop when men decide to stop it. Men need to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.
- Don’t look the other way.
How would you feel if a man slapped your sister (or another woman you cared about) and a man standing nearby looked the other way? If we witness violence and do nothing, then we are supporting violence against women.
- Be an ally to women.
Standing with women doesn’t mean we betray men. It means we respect women. Being an ally can mean showing up in your community to say that violence against women is wrong. In addition, we must hold men we know accountable.
- Don’t fund sexism/pornography.
Pornography is estimated to be over a 10 billion dollar-a-year business that is bigger than the NFL, NBA, and MLB combined. Women in pornography are viewed as objects that exist only for male sexual gratification. They are not seen as human beings with a spirit, feelings, thoughts, or a soul. Pornography rationalizes violence against women as part of a healthy sexual relationship.
- Mentor and teach young boys.
Boys watch what we do more than they listen to what we say. Demonstrate respect for women by walking the walk rather than just talking the talk.
Learn more about Men Stopping Violence.