Posted by Elizabeth Schön Vainer
This year's White Ribbon Campaign in Massachusetts is #ReimaginingManhood: What Will Your Legacy Be? This campaign began on March 5 and will continue throughout the month. Even the Boston Celtics are observing White Ribbon Day at a home game in March. White Ribbon Day honors men acting to end violence against women. Here at JF&CS we continued our tradition of gathering on the first Thursday of March to commemorate the White Ribbon Campaign and Massachusetts' official White Ribbon Day. Almost 30 staff members attended our program, watched two related PSAs, and participated in a great discussion led by JF&CS Journey to Safety exploring the impact of these PSAs. It is so heartening to have so many allies and our agency support these efforts.
Later that day we attended the 8th annual White Ribbon Day event at the State House. The program was inspiring but most riveting was Yevin Roh, a UMass Medical student who delivered a spoken word piece about his own journey as a child survivor of an abusive father. His Facebook page posting gives you a sense of him:
"What a day! Glad to have met a ton of people who believe that ending gendered violence, ending violence against women, and encouraging healthy masculinities is EVERYONE'S responsibility. Got a standing ovation at White Ribbon Day from a bunch of people I never expected to be in the same room at once: community activists, organizers, high school athletes, lawyers, state reps and senators, students from all backgrounds, servicemen and servicewomen from multiple branches of the military, members of the Wampanoag Tribe, law enforcement, people who provide direct support/services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, Department of Public Health and Department of Youth Services, people of various faiths, and folks fighting the good fight for gender equity."
It's hard to take the time from work for these kinds of awareness days. Yet each time I do I am reminded of how important it is. Not just to empower an amazing young man like Yevin but also to get re-energized and recommitted to the work we are doing to end domestic abuse. Please know that what may seem like the smallest of actions can make a difference in ending violence against women. Consider a gentle comment about why a joke objectifying women isn't funny or sharing one of the No More or Jane Doe PSAs with someone who might be inspired by it. Every step you take adds to our collective journey to safety for all.
Elizabeth Schön Vainer has been the program director of Journey to Safety, the domestic abuse program of JF&CS, since March 2010. Elizabeth is passionate about Journey to Safety's commitment to prevent domestic abuse. She believes that we must work at the individual, community, and legislative levels to shift our societal view that allows abusive behavior to remain so prevalent and damaging. When we focus on speaking up, listening to, and collaborating with others we can have a real impact. Prior to working at JF&CS, Elizabeth worked for 25 years in victim services at both the Middlesex and Suffolk County District Attorney's offices. Elizabeth holds a BSW from the University of Tel Aviv and a MS in organization and management from Antioch University.