According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.” It is critical to note that domestic violence impacts both genders, although it has often been characterized as a women’s issue. Data from the National Crime Victimization Study show that “men account for about 24 percent of domestic violence survivors.” Domestic violence is typically portrayed as a man doing harm to a woman but the inverse also occurs, as does domestic violence within homosexual relationships. Domestic violence does not discriminate and it can occur against any intimate partner. Both men and women can be survivors of domestic abuse, and both men and women have the opportunity to play a critical role in both the advocacy of survivors and prevention of future abuse.
Generally, the domestic violence movement has framed its work on a naive gender binary with men as harm-doers and women as victims. There are a number of men who have joined the fight against domestic violence, and below are just a few individuals that have stood out in their drive to end the cycle of abuse. From celebrities to activists, these men are taking a stance against domestic violence.
1. Jackson Katz
Jackson Katz, co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), is a significant figure within the community of men working to promote gender equality and prevent gender violence. In a 2012 Tedx Talk, Katz discussed the fact that domestic violence and sexual abuse are often called women’s issues but in actuality, are intrinsically men’s issues. Katz argues that calling gender violence a women’s issue exacerbates the problem at hand and “gives men an excuse not to pay attention.” Additionally, this further compounds the already pervasive issue of “victim-blaming” as it puts an irrational focus on questioning the survivor’s role in the violence. Katz published his book, “The Macho Paradox”, in hopes of getting men involved in the domestic violence conversation. Katz believes that the future requires both men and women to work together to ignite the change needed for future generations.
2. Tony Porter
Tony Porter is an educator and activist who is internationally recognized for his effort to end violence against women. Porter is the co-founder of A CALL TO MEN, a violence prevention organization and respected leader on issues of manhood, male socialization and its intersection with violence. Porter shared his thoughts on the collective socialization of men, and teaching men to break free of the “man box” in his TedxTalk during the TedWomen Conference. Porter suggests that men are characterized to fit into a box fueled by the fact that “young boys are taught not to express their emotions, to suck it up and be a man.” Porter joins the conversation on the collective socialization of men and how this impacts the way men think about women.
3. Jimmie Briggs
Jimmie Briggs is a renowned documentary journalist and advocate for racial and gender equality. His experience with war-exposed youth and sexual survivors shaped Briggs to be more of an advocate than just a journalist. Briggs wanted to take a more active role in the many violent matters he found himself writing about, and he decided to co-found the “Man Up Campaign.” The “Man Up Campaign,” was “a global initiative mobilizing young people to stop violence against women and girls through arts, sports and technology.” Briggs is heavily focused on educating youth as a way to prevent future violence. According to Briggs, “We target youths because they have such powerful potential to affect change. From a personal point of view it makes a lot of sense to work with people before they exhibit certain behaviors, language and attitudes. We educate them to not be misogynistic, to not be violent, to not be oppressive, to work toward equality. I think they have a better chance of inspiring our male and female allies as adults.”
4. Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart is an actor that has taken an active role in the domestic violence community with his book on women’s rights, “Created Equal.” Stewart experienced violence in his own home growing up, where his father abused his mother. According to Stewart, “The truth is my mother did nothing to deserve the violence she endured. She did not provoke my father, and even if she had, violence is an unacceptable way of dealing with conflict. Violence is a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it.” Stewart uses his platform to flawlessly jump directly in the middle of this conversation and bring it front of mind for both men and women.
5. Al Emerick
Al Emerick is the co-founder of Men Against Violence Against Women (MAVAW), which is on a mission empower men to end all forms of violence against women through community education and awareness. Men Against Violence Against Women was established in 2000 as a volunteer-based organization founded and run by men who seek an end to gender violence and sexism. MAVAW is made up of individuals that are hoping to overcome societal flaws through open conversation and dialogue.
It is important to note that although women account for the majority of domestic violence survivors, men also play a critical role in the conversation. Although domestic violence has historically been a women’s issue, there are male survivors and advocates that have an important place in today’s domestic violence context. If you want to contribute to the conversation and learn more about domestic violence training, consider taking part in Jessica Yaffa’s Relationship Violence Assessment and Response Specialist Certification for Professionals (RVARS). Jessica Yaffa is an internationally-known inspirational speaker and a survivor of extreme domestic violence. Ms. Yaffa is an advocate for the community and has spent nearly two decades teaching others about the dynamics of healthy relationships.