By Ernie Brown
March is Women’s History Month, but I’d like to focus on how all men can help make life better for the women in their lives.
Don’t abuse them.
At a recent men’s fellowship gathering at my church, David Lomax, a detective sergeant with the Youngstown Police Department, told us about A Call to Men Youngstown, a men’s organization addressing men’s violence against women and the eradication of sexism.
He explained how he got involved with the group and how he received a new perspective on domestic violence.
He told the story of how a police investigator conducted an interview with a rape victim. The investigator asked if her assailant used a condom.
The problem, Lomax said, is the investigator made his query in a YPD area where other people were within earshot.
“So this woman was victimized twice; once by her assailant and then by the police,” he said.
Lomax went on to tell us another story about a woman who was abused by her boyfriend. In fact, he eventually shot her several times. She survived, but he was surprised at the response of some of his male colleagues.
Lomax said the woman was heavyset, and they joked that her large stature saved her life. Lomax said he wanted to say something, but he did not.
That, he said, is what has to change.
Men can no longer be silent about domestic violence and abuse. He had special words for the late Kim Sullivan, a judicial advocate for Sojourner House, a domestic-violence program, and other women who he said helped sensitize him to domestic-abuse issues. Sullivan died in a car crash in January.
The main vision of A Call to Men Youngstown is to shift social norms defining manhood in our culture. Ending violence against women is primarily men’s responsibility, he added.
Lomax asked our men’s group members to define what is a man. Some said protector. Others said disciplinarian, provider, or authoritative figure.
I said men are compassionate. Lomax laughed. “That is definitely not a characteristic usually given to men,” he said.
But it should be.
In most cultures, men are taught to be strong; they don’t cry; they shouldn’t share their weaknesses or concerns with other men; and they shouldn’t ask for help.
A Call to Men Youngstown seeks to influence a change in men’s behavior through re-education and a training process that challenges sexism, Lomax said.
He distributed a fact sheet on domestic and family violence. Here are some of the alarming items:
- Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.
- About one in five female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
- Around the world, at least one in every three women have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
- Eighty percent of women who are stalked by former husbands are physically assaulted by that person, and 30 percent are sexually assaulted.
He also provided us a sheet from the national A Call to Men organization that lists some common-sense things men can do to end violence against women.
Among them are examine and challenge our individual sexism and the role men play in supporting men who are abusive, and educate and re-educate our sons and other young men about men’s responsibility to end the violence against women.
A Call to Men Youngstown meets the second Tuesday of each month at 5 p.m. at The Burdman Group building, 284 Broadway, Youngstown. The next session is Tuesday. To get more information, write to A Call to Men Youngstown, P.O. Box 1295, Youngstown 44501, or call (330) 507-1155.