Jackie List, the Executive Director of the Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley says the effort to mobilize men and boys in the fight against domestic violence has increased up in the last few years.
“These conversations about the responsibility of men to address these issues have really ratcheted up in the last 10 or 15 years. I think men have always been involved in the work that we do…Our organization was started in the early ’70s by women who opened their doors to victims and then set up a crisis line and then set up counseling and then evolved into the multi-faceted organization that we have today. But at the very beginning there were men in those homes who were saying “yes, open the doors, let’s do this”.”
List says there has been a gap in society of men holding other men accountable for gender violence. “It’s one thing once a man has offended, has committed a crime, to hold him accountable. We would like to see that begin before then, as a prevention measure. To have men in the community step up and say to other men “it is not OK to abuse people, it is OK to ask for help, it is OK to get guidance, it is OK to find ways to change your behavior, it is not OK to continue the way you’re going”.”
The Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley is part of a state-wide movement to educate men on being allies in the fight against domestic violence. “We started about a year ago with the White Ribbon campaign, and we have about 40 men now engaged in that campaign and they are ambassadors for us in the community and they are there for to model good behavior, healthy masculinity and also to call out anyone that they encounter that is telling a sexist joke or making a denigrating remark women, they respectfully address those things.”
The Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley recently launched a pilot program at certain Longmont high schools, that teaches sports coaches to teach healthy masculinity to boys. List says they are seeking to expand that 12 week Coaching Boys into Men program. The Safe Shelter is also participating in Stand Up Colorado, a soon to launch state-wide initiative at 11 sites, including Longmont, led by the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, that builds awareness and reaches out to offenders.
The Safe Shelter is hosting a public forum on April 27th and 28th, exploring gender-based violence perpetrated by males.
Find out more about the symposium at http://www.safesheltersymposium.org/