Wednesday, March 25, 2015

52 Mondays



Readers of this space (as well as other social media sites I pass through on occasion) know of the respect and admiration I have for Stephanie Wright and the work she has done to eradicate DV from the lives of women (and men).  Dr. Wright has undertaken a weekly challenge/focus of writing about DV at wrighterly.com,  and I encourage everyone to read her 52 Mondays.  She is well-spoken, thoughtful, and constantly insightful with her POV – calling attention to DV issues with strength and an eloquence that is often lacking in my own posts.
If you care at all about ending DV you really need to be reading 52 Mondays. Then be bold and speak out against it in any/every way you can.  Every step you take makes a difference.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dave Navarro Talks About DV and His Mother's Murder

In case you missed it:

Jane's Addiction founder and guitarist Dave Navarro talked about his very personal connection to domestic violence. In 1983, his mother Connie Navarro was murdered by a vengeful ex-boyfriend, when Dave was just 15 years old.


"My mother was in a relationship, the relationship ended," Navarro said.  "She wanted to go a different way, and her then-ex-boyfriend murdered her and my aunt."

He justified why he would call his mother's murder a form of domestic violence. "Sometimes it's hard to link domestic violence with murder because it's such a broad jump," Navarro reflected. "Except it is a domestically violent situation and probably the worst-case scenario in a domestically violent world."

You can watch it here

And if you're interested, you can learn about No More by clicking on the following:

http://nomore.org


Friday, February 27, 2015

Into The Fire



“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends”.
                                                                                    Dr. Martin Luther King  11/17/1957

This quote by Dr. King always resonated with me – eighteen words I carried with me wherever I went, no matter what I did (or didn’t do).

In recent months much of my writing has focused on the issues of domestic violence and sexual violence.  Part of that stems from a new work in progress; a book that is markedly different in style, tone, and message than anything I’ve ever written before and that has taken me on a totally unexpected and eye-opening journey.  More comes from watching and admiring Stephanie Wright tackle domestic violence and related issues at wrighterly.com – boldly raising her voice and making a difference week after week.  A larger reason comes out of those eighteen words by Dr. King – to stand quietly on domestic and sexual violence is impossible.

Here’s the thing:
Domestic violence (and sexual violence) is not just an issue between two people, even though it’s been treated that way by too many people for too long.  Too many people who might have made a difference in changing the hearts and minds of those who were content to pretend they didn’t know ……. Too many people who could have made a difference.

If at least three women die every day at the hands of their partners, that’s over one thousand lives that have been lost by silence every year.

No matter who you are, chances are that sooner or later it will be someone you know.

Full disclosure: I am the child of an abusive father.  One of my earliest memories is of my father running out the kitchen door as a pot flew at his head and crashed against the wall.  I was two years old when he left and he didn’t return until I was seventeen, so in some ways I was one of the lucky ones - male children who witness the abuse of mothers by fathers are more likely to become men who batter in adulthood than those male children from homes free of violence.  Like many children from fatherless families, I wondered sometimes what life might have been like if my father had been around while I was growing up, but I’ve learned that not having him around wasn’t such a bad thing.

Some have questioned what I can bring to a discussion about domestic and sexual violence because after all, I’m a man, but who better to help lead this fight than other men?  And let’s be clear about that too – not about being a man - but the sad fact that the only voices questioning me are coming from other men.  What too many guys haven’t figured out or refuse to accept is that domestic violence is a public health issue.  Every man has a responsibility to join women in the fight against domestic and sexual violence.  The first step in that solution starts with the way we view women.  Any attitude that devalues women is wrong and needs to change…. It’s time for all men to stand up, take responsibility for our thoughts, our words, and the things we do.  I plan to spend the rest of this year focusing on these two topics and doing whatever I can to raise awareness, open dialogue, and make a difference in this fight.

My only regret: I should have spoken out years earlier.  And I should have been louder because I can be very loud.

“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world”.
                                                                                             Robert Kennedy  4/4/1968

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ray Rice Issues An Apology

One year after punching his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City elevator, Ray Rice issued an apology in the Baltimore Sun on Friday.



Dear Baltimore,
This is not a farewell or goodbye. The last seven years that my family and I have spent in Baltimore have by far been the best of our lives. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for the love and support you've shown my family and I throughout my football career. We'll always be grateful for the love we've received from all of our fans and supporters, and for winning a Super Bowl. To all the kids who looked up to me, I'm truly sorry for letting you down, but I hope it's helped you learn that one bad decision can turn your dream into a nightmare. There is no excuse for domestic violence, and I apologize for the horrible mistake I made. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and I hope to make a positive difference in people's lives by raising awareness of this issue. Thank you, Baltimore Ravens, for all you have done for my family and I. I'm very grateful to Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and everyone at 1 Winning Drive. I love you all very much, and I'll always be proud to say I played for the Baltimore Ravens.
Thank you.
-- Ray Rice


The key sentence: "There is no excuse for domestic violence, and I apologize for the horrible mistake I made".

Sports fans and broadcasters are quick to point out that this is the kind of statement he has to make to get back in the NFL, like becoming the running back who routinely ran for 1,000 yards a season is the most important thing.  What's more important than football is that this is the first in many steps Rice needs to take to make amends - we need to continue engaging in open/honest discussion about domestic violence and our attitudes towards it. Time to get people to realize that this is not just an issue between two people, but a public health issue.

There is no excuse for domestic violence.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl PSA Against Domestic Violence


Key Point:
Domestic Violence is often invisible and in too many cases, goes undiscussed.

1 in 4 women (and 1 in 7 men) suffer violence at the hands of a partner.  It's a problem that each of us needs to play a part in fixing.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

AN UNBROKEN CIRCLE



So here’s where we are on domestic violence five months after that Ray Rice elevator video surfaced:

Nowhere.

Headlines.  A few conversations.  Brief moments of heightened awareness.  A few Public Service commercials featuring NFL players.  But not much else is really that different.  Progress as well as any forward steps have been hard to find. Nothing that has broken the cycle of violence and pain.

And that needs to change.

Some basic facts about domestic violence everyone needs to know:

  • 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
  • More than 60% of domestic violence incidents happen at home.
  • Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • At least 1/3 of the families using New York City’s family shelter system are homeless due to domestic violence.
  • Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
  • More than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners.
  • 1 in 3 female homicide victims are murdered by their current or former partner every year.
  • More than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year.
  • Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%).
  • Children exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including becoming sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches, and being more tired and lethargic.
  • Male children who witness the abuse of mothers by fathers are more likely to become men who batter in adulthood than those male children from homes free of violence.
  • Domestic violence victims face high rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks, and other emotional distress.


Men need to take the lead on this issue – we have the power to do what is needed, and we need to add our voices and raise the volume.  If you’re a guy and you’re not speaking out against DV, you are part of the problem.

Stephanie Wright has undertaken a weekly challenge/focus of writing about DV at wrighterly.com,  and I encourage everyone to read her 52 Mondays.  She is well-spoken, thoughtful, and constantly insightful with her POV – calling attention to DV issues with strength and an eloquence that is sometimes lacking in my own posts. 

You can also find more info at the following links:


This is where it starts.

Monday, January 19, 2015

BLURRED LINES

Re-posting this from A COLD RUSH OF AIR (9/25/2014)



Elliot Rodger left little doubt about his motives, intentions, or the source of his problems when he went on his killing spree last year in Isla Vista, California.  His 141-page manifesto was filled with hatred towards women and his violent misogyny ignited debates that brought the term “rape culture” back into mainstream conversations.  Sadly, most men have no idea what rape culture means, including some who argued vehemently against its existence.
If you’re a man, the first thing you need to know is that rape culture exists.  It’s as real as the way you suck in your stomach on the beach and how you pretend to have been a better high school athlete than you ever really were.  You can deny its existence all you want – pretend it’s fanaticism or feminism or anything else you can label with an “ism” that lessens the blow, but rape culture is real.
            And if you’re a man, it’s your fault.
            That might hurt, but it’s undeniable and men have to face that fact.
           Rape culture exists because men believe it does not exist.  We hide behind phrases like “it’s not all men”or “I’m not that kind of guy”, and make excuses to minimize the things other men have done and soften the pain their actions create.  We find explanations and reasons, and point to dozens of examples that show how we’re not all the same - anything to get us off the hook.  But we can’t rationalize it away because facts don’t lie.
            The hard truth is that men are the primary reason for the existence of rape culture.
         If you ask, most men can’t define rape culture or put into words what it means in today’s world.  It’s not a theory – something imagined by radical feminists or hysterical left-leaning writers on college campuses and in Brooklyn coffee houses. It’s not created by socio-economic conditions.  Rape culture is about the way we collectively deal with situations where sexual assault and rape are tolerated, ignored, trivialized, normalized, or made into jokes.  It’s not just our actions but our attitudes.  Rape culture is about exposing women to unwanted sexual advances and a lack of accountability in the excuses we make when it happens.  It means a rape victim is victimized all over again when she reports the crime.  It’s about blaming victims for actions against them.  Most importantly, it is a conscious decision by some men to commit an unwanted act against another person, and other men allowing it to happen.
            It happens a lot.  Every day.
            Women get that and understand it.
            Men still have a lot to learn and a long way to go.
            Some guys think it’s unfair to categorize men into one homogenous group.  That it’s unfair for the actions of a few to reflect poorly on this group.  That it’s wrong that all men have to adjust their behavior, and they are right.  It is unfair and wrong.  But it’s also unfair that not enough men have been taught not to rape.  That not enough men have learned that “no” means “no” – that grey areas don’t exist between “yes” and “no” when it comes to consensual sex or even unwanted attention.  It’s unfair that women cannot go anywhere without looking over a shoulder, holding car keys like weapons, or considering every man she sees as a threat – considerations men rarely think about.
            If you can’t understand how that works or what it means, think about it this way: there are 470 species of sharks but only 4 have ever been involved in a significant number of fatal, unprovoked attacks on humans.  If you are swimming in the ocean and see a dorsal fin pop up between the waves, you don’t stop to calculate your chances – you turn into Michael Phelps and freestyle back to the beach.
            It’s like that for women.
         Every man is a threat.  Even nice guys can turn out to be someone or something different, especially since over 70% of all women know their rapist.  Like it or not, all men need to be judged by our worst examples.
            That is how we have forced women to live.
            Rape culture is about vulnerability and we need to fix it.
            Bad men exist.  Our role is to do something about that and change the way other men behave.  We talk about rape prevention but instead of teaching women how not to be raped, we need to teach men not to rape.  We need to act in ways that make all women feel comfortable and be considerate of the space we share.  Men need to stop objectifying and degrading women, then blaming victims for things men have done as a result of that.
            If you’re a man, you need to act as if every woman is your wife, mother, daughter, or friend and treat them accordingly.  If you have daughters and sons – if you care about the women in your life – if you care at all about ending hatred, violence, and sexism against women, do something.
            Stop making excuses and start making changes.
On a Friday night in Southern California a few months ago, Elliot Rodger unleashed his rage and millions of women again told stories of sexual violence, sexual harassment, and sexual fears.  Painful, powerful, and brutally honest stories that have been told before. 
This time, all men need to listen.