Monday, October 6, 2008

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month - Are You Aware? It's that time again, time for thousands of newspaper articles across the country that will educate and enlighten readers about domestic violence. However, the main theme of most if not all of these articles will be on violence against women by men as it has been for the last few decades. So if you are suffering from intimate partner violence and you are not a heterosexual women being beaten by a male partner then there won't be much if any acknowledgment about your situation. The other theme for this season of awareness is on what men (the non abuser kind) can do to stop violence against women. Although research on domestic violence over the last twenty years has found that both men and women in heterosexual and same sex relationships can be abusive towards their intimate partner this fact has been lost on the media and the mainstream domestic violence advocates. If one mentions that men can be on the receiving end of domestic violence the average person usually replies, "I never thought of that," or "Men can't be victims, they are much bigger and stronger than women." Since we as a society have been taught to define domestic violence as a women's issue funding, services and public awareness for anyone other than women (and children) abused by men is sorely lacking in this country. And the extent to which advocates for women will go to keep the focus on abused women and discredit, refute and ignore male victims never ceases to amaze me. The fore-mothers of the battered women's movement had little use for men early on in the movement especially since, according to them, men are the reason we have this social problem. However, over the last five years or so there has been a big push to get men involved in ending men's violence against women. There is a whole list of things that good men can do all year round but especially during October to end violence against women. *In Florida guys can wear high heels to raise awareness of domestic violence and march down the street *In Indiana, men can rally on the public square carry banners and wear t-shirts and lapel ribbons that proclaim the message: “Another Man Against Violence Against Women. And then there are the ten things that men can do everyday to end violence against women: 1. Acknowledge and understand how sexism, male dominance and male privilege lay the foundation for all forms of violence against women. 2. Examine and challenge our individual sexism and the role that we play in supporting men who are abusive. 3. Recognize and stop colluding with other men by getting out of our socially defined roles, and take a stance to end violence against women. 4. Remember that our silence is affirming. When we choose not to speak out against men’s violence, we are supporting it. 5. Educate and re-educate our sons and other young men about our responsibility in ending men’s violence against women. 6."Break out of the man box"- Challenge traditional images of manhood that stop us from actively taking a stand to end violence against women. 7. Accept and own our responsibility that violence against women will not end until men become part of the solution to end it. We must take an active role in creating a cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence against women. 8. Stop supporting the notion that men’s violence against women is due to mental illness, lack of anger management skills, chemical dependency, stress, etc… Violence against women is rooted in the historic oppression of women and the outgrowth of the socialization of men. 9. Take responsibility for creating appropriate and effective ways to develop systems to educate and hold men accountable. 10. Create systems of accountability to women in your community. Violence against women will end only when we take direction from those who understand it most, women. It's really great that we are all encouraged to be a part of the solution to end violence against women but domestic violence won't end by stopping part of the problem. It will only end when we as a society acknowledge that both men and women can be perpetrators as well as recipients of family violence and take steps to end all family violence.

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