Men are central to DOVE’s work

One in four women experiences violence at the hands of a man

  • Wednesday, April 24, 2019 2:06pm
  • Opinion
Heidi Jackson (Courtesy Photo)

Heidi Jackson (Courtesy Photo)

This month, the DOVE Project has launched a fundraising campaign, but it’s much more than that. Vashon Men Stand Up is a unique campaign in that it has one target audience focus: men. We’d like to explain why.

Here is what we know through more than three decades of research:

One in four women experiences violence at the hands of a man, which involves one or more of the following: physical violence, sexual violence and/or stalking. If you know four women, violence affects at least one. Many people believe that abuse happens in a bubble by some “very bad, unique” individuals not representative of the whole of our community. If 25% of women are affected by violence, then that bubble has burst. This is a pervasive problem.

In a typical day, there are over 20,000 calls made to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. This is an epidemic. Communities like Vashon are struggling to come to grips with how far and wide the impact is. Violence permeates all ethnicities, all income brackets, all ages.

Some things that are true about Vashon Island:

– Domestic violence occurs here every day, just as it does in the rest of the country.

– Sexual harassment and assaults also occur on the island, many of which go unreported due to the challenges of reporting these in a rural island community.

Some things that are true about most men:

– You have women and girls in your life who you care deeply for.

– Many of you would do almost anything to protect these women and girls.

– You cannot personally protect all of them, at each moment. Nor would they want you to, as they are living their own autonomous, empowered lives.

– Knowing that your loved ones might be harmed at some point is a painful reality for many of you.

Here is a quote from one of my favorite voices in this movement, Jackson Katz:

When people ask why I do this, they always assume I must have some kind of personal story. My response is that if a personal story was all it took for a man to speak out on domestic abuse, we’d have millions of male voices — fathers, sons, friends and partners of women who’ve experienced abuse. But that hasn’t happened. So, the bigger question is: Why haven’t more men come forward? What are the reasons, in 2018, that this hasn’t become a mass movement among men?

I’ve been called a snowflake and a man hater. It riles a lot of men, as they think they’ll have to realign what’s right and wrong. I don’t want to bash men, because they’ll switch off — but I would like to get them thinking and speaking about how we treat women in our society. We need men to speak out. We need men to say to other men when they cross a line, when they say or do something unacceptable: ‘That’s not OK.’

DOVE’s mission is to prevent violence on Vashon Island before it occurs, in addition to supporting survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.

Your dollars donated to DOVE will help us deliver programs on the island that make it safer for you and your loved ones to live here. Your donating to DOVE this month will deliver a powerful statement about how much Vashon men care about preventing domestic and sexual abuse and making the island a safer place for all of us.

— Heidi Jackson is the executive director of The DOVE Project.

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