ABUSE: AN ISSUE FOR MEN
October was domestic violence awareness month.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 5.3 million incidents of intimate partner violence occur each year in the United States. You can witness, as filmed, domestic violence live, at 20/20 at www.abcnews.com and search for the October 27, 2006 video entitled “Abuse Behind Closed Doors.” I promise: it will sicken you.
Fargo/Moorhead has its proportional share of this abuse and violence.
I completed a 48 hour training program for volunteers at the Fargo-Moorhead Rape and Abuse crisis center recently. Volunteers serve as advocates who take crisis calls during off hours, court watchers who track cases in the legal system, and public speakers.
The training sessions were emotionally difficult. Speakers taught us about incest; stalking; cyber-sex; date rape; pedophilia; emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; and the difficulties victims face personally, within families, and in the legal system. At times I felt ashamed to be a man.
I asked a counselor what one thing she would change in the make-up of the abusers if she could. She answered, “Empathy.” None of the abusers can feel for themselves what they do to others.
I see two challenges:
Hold abusers accountable.
I call on policemen, lawyers, and judges to learn about abuse and the dynamics of abusive men. Ignorant people in authority bear some measure of responsibility for the bad things that happen to women and children. Some of you are arrogant and think you don’t need to learn. Trust me, you do need to learn. I was a Secret Service agent, a senior business executive, and an organizational consultant. I needed to learn. So do you. The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center will be happy to help you.
Lundy Bancroft’s books: “Why Does He Do That” and “The Batterer as Parent” should be required reading for every attorney and judge who work in family law.
Our greatest mistake is to refuse to look abuse in the face; to not confront abuse is to cooperate with it.
Raise boys differently.
Joe Ehrmann, former NFL star and author of “Season of Life” wrote that our definition of masculinity and manhood must change before we can address other societal issues to make America a more just and fair society.
"Masculinity… ought to be defined in terms of relationships. If you look over your life at the end of it…life wouldn’t be measured in terms of success based on what you’ve acquired or achieved or what you own. The only thing that’s really going to matter is the relationships that you had. It’s gonna come down to this: What kind of father were you? What kind of husband were you? What kind of coach or teammate were you? What kind of son were you? What kind of brother were you? What kind of friend were you? Success comes in terms of relationships.
And I think of the second criterion—the only other criterion for masculinity—is that all of us ought to have some kind of cause, some kind of purpose in our lives that’s bigger than our own individual hopes, dreams, wants, and desires. At the end of our life, we ought to be able to look back over it from our deathbed and know that somehow the world was a better place because we lived, we loved, we were other-centered, other-focused."
We can also teach young girls to speak up about men’s violence. If we do these things, then we won’t have abusers who victimize others in this world.