Posted by Alan Jacobson
Last week I had the pleasure of attending White Ribbon Day at the State House. The event is designed to bring men together so we would speak in a unified voice while pledging to be part of the solution in ending violence against women. The afternoon was thought-provoking, moving, and motivating. The diversity of people was incredible and included providers of all types, politicians, athletes, students, advocates, and concerned men from all walks of life. As powerful as the event itself was, what struck afterwards was the need to keep the desire of all of the participants burning beyond this important day as far as creating real change.
Thus, in the spirit of igniting action and being part of the ongoing effort toward ending domestic abuse, let's think about how to hold abusers accountable. I have started a list of what we can all do to help.
- Teach our teenage and adult children how to recognize abusive behavior in themselves and how they can safely address abusive behavior in others.
- Provide them with ways in which they can respond when they are concerned about themselves, a friend, or loved one.
- Know the resources available before a possible victim of domestic abuse even asks so that we can be helpful in the moment.
- Proactively join community groups and organizations that perpetuate sexism and then work from the inside to try to change them.
- Confront sexist, racist, homophobic, and all other prejudiced remarks or jokes, especially, perhaps, when the person telling them and/or his audience does not understand the real consequences of this kind of behavior. Model for young men what it takes to be a man – kindness, respect, and empathy toward their partners. Jane Doe created a wonderful short video – pass it on to others.
- Be a conduit for information and resource sharing – check these out:
And our own Journey to Safety, the domestic abuse program of JF&CS, can help with efforts like effectively talking with teens or organizing a community action. Contact Elizabeth Schön Vainer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-647-JFCS (5327) for more information.
These are just a very few examples of how we, as men, can become part of a wide ranging solution. If each of us chooses to do even some of these or other actions to end violence against women, we will play a big role in addressing this deeply concerning issue. Let next year's White Ribbon Day be not only a day to reaffirm our pledge, but also to share our stories and compare notes about the progress we have made. I look forward to attending White Ribbon Day again next year and seeing many of you there too!
Alan Jacobson, PsyD, MBA, is JF&CS Senior VP for Programs. He lives with his wife and two children (ages 8 and 7) in Westwood, and is a licensed psychologist with fifteen years of experience treating children and families. Alan's community activities have included leading anti-bullying programs for a wide variety of public and private school systems, providing consultation to the Cohen Camps, delivering an ongoing series of child development workshops in metro Boston, serving on the board of the Disabilities Network for Children, and educating many local pediatricians on childhood mental health problems as part of the Pediatric Roundtable Initiative.