10,000 Men Supporting VAWA

Every 12 seconds in the United States, a man abuses the woman he has promised to love. Every two minutes in the U.S., a man rapes a woman–usually a woman he knows.

But most men don’t rape; most of us don’t abuse. Yet we remain silent and consider these issues “women’s issues.”  As White Ribbon Campaign co-founder Michael Kaufman has said, “We stay home in droves on this issue.”

It’s long past time for that to change.

Many people I respect have written asking me to support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). I have written to my senators, signed online petitions, posted on Facebook and urged my friends to do the same.

Much of the opposition to VAWA comes from so-called “men’s rights” or “father’s rights” groups. They frame the debate as “he-said-she-said”–women’s rights and protection on one side, men’s on another.

Turns out, that’s not the case. Groups funded by VAWA have supported male victims for years. I know: I’ve worked for many rape crisis centers and domestic violence programs. We always served anyone, regardless of gender.

I think most men actually support VAWA and its goals–which are to improve law enforcement and community support against domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. With VAWA reauthorization in jeopardy, it’s time for us to make that support public. Of course everyone should support VAWA, but here are particular reasons I think men should:

1. We men are sons, fathers, brothers and intimate partners of girls and women. One in three women will be victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence in their lifetime, with men as the primary perpetrators. Most men are close to at least three women, so statistically one of those women will be victimized by violence–and it’s our job to speak out against that violence. It’s our job to hold other men accountable for their violence and work towards a culture of peace and respect.

2. VAWA helps male victims. Since the law first passed in 1994, the number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34 percent for women–and 57 percent for men. All police departments, prosecutor’s offices and victim-service agencies funded by VAWA serve victims of all genders–even if the agency in question has the word “women” in its name.

3. Men perpetrate most of the violence against women. Sexual violence, strangulation, murder, stalking, domestic violence–all  are predominantly crimes by men against women. Certainly these crimes affect children and men, as well as the LGBTQ community, but if our (male) gender holds prime responsibility, we should be more active in supporting initiatives such as VAWA to end the violence.

Guys, now that you know why, here’s how you can help support reauthorization of this vital legislation:

1. Find out more about VAWA from groups such as the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, and support the good work these groups do for women, children and men.

2. Talk with women and men at your local domestic violence program and rape crisis center. Learn more about how violence affects your community. Support local initiatives with your time and money.

3. Call your senators and representatives and ask them to support VAWA reauthorization. Tell them why this is important to you as a man. Ask other men to do the same.

4. Sign online petitions supporting VAWA reauthorization, including the Change.org petition 10,000 Men Supporting VAWA. Anyone is welcome to sign, but encourage the men in your life to be signers. Help to get at least 10,000 men affirming that this isn’t just a “women’s issue.”

I am certainly not the first person to ask for men to support VAWA, nor will I be the last.  I’ve learned everything I know about these issues from women, and from men who have learned from women. I have followed and supported national organizations such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Break the Cycle, Futures Without Violence (formerly the Family Violence Prevention Fund), NOW, the Feminist Majority Foundation and many others.

I am honored to be a part of the growing multicultural, multiracial movement of male “aspiring allies” to women. I will continue to support the White Ribbon Campaign, Men Can Stop Rape, A Call to Men, Men Stopping Violence, the National Organization for Men Against Sexism and many others.

The Violence Against Women Act was originally introduced in Congress by a man–the same man who is now our vice president. Since then, it’s been implemented, enhanced and reauthorized by smart women and men. I urge all people to support their work and help create a future free from violence.

You can double your impact by signing the Care2 petition below in addition to the Change.org “10,000 Men” petition!

 

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Photo is of Roger Rawiri, member of the Super Maori Fullas, speaking as part of the White Ribbon Campaign, New Zealand Nov 2010.  Image from Flickr user NZ Breakers via Creative Commons 3.0.

Comments

  1. Thank you, Mr. Atherton-Zeman! Your article and support for VAWA and women’s rights in general are much appreciated.

  2. Catherine Campbell says:

    Wonderful to see men get on board; this is not a woman’s issue, chow could it be when it takes two to tango; men do not want more mouths than they can feed or my children than they can care for, educate and give a quality of life.

  3. Thank you, Ben. You are a hero and an encouragement to women everywhere.

  4. Great work! Nothing much will change regarding domestic violence toward women and children until men actively support the program

  5. What a tremendous article this is! In the early 1980s I was on the speaking slate with Brownie Ledbetter and Bella Abzug on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol. At the time, most people knew little about domestic violence…even those who were suffering from it. TAKE BACK THE NIGHT was the theme…and I will never forget those women who were there that day and rushed the speakers to say they were never going to forget that day! Brownie and Bella are no longer with us but they would appreciate this article, just as I do. Thank you so much for helping remind people that the War on Women has really been around for a long time.

  6. I have been permitted stay in the United states under VAWA. I did everything for my freedom. I entered extensive therapy, educated myself (GED first, then my Bachelor’s degree), I paid the bills on time and re-established my credit..you name it I did it. I don’t know what any victim would do without VAWA. I do however fell that there needs to be something more for survivors who do everything imaginable to regain their freedom and start a new life, sometimes even just start a life, for themselves. I lost my home, cannot find gainful employment, am living in a friend’s mother’s home until the bank repossess it, and believe me when I say there are times when I can understand why some victims remain and some return. I always try to see light at the end of my tunnel, but lately it feels as if I have been thrown back into an open grave alive, had the gravel packed so solidly on top that it is impossible to see any light…but I keep on plowing away knowing that God has a better plan for me and that he only gives us what we can handle….

  7. Equalitist says:

    According to the CDC, 1 in 3 women report being victims of domestic abuse, along with 1 in 4 men. I don’t believe the difference justifies the exclusive focus on protecting women in this article.

    Also, the article is incorrect in saying that all rape crisis centers funded by VAWA welcome men victims. That is simply not true.

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