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DVAM-webb

How I #SeeDV: Crayton Webb

DVAM-webbI remember distinctly the moment that I finally got it. That I understood. The moment when I realized that violence against women was more than just an issue the company I work for had taken on as a priority philanthropic cause nearly twenty years ago. That it was my issue, my problem. That it was a man’s issue. All of a sudden, for me it was finally personal.

I was fortunate not to have grown up in a home with domestic violence. Had never been in a relationship where violence was prevalent. I was, and am, blessed to be in a loving marriage with three healthy, happy, and often rambunctious and loud, little boys.

The story I read in the newspaper that particular morning suddenly made it all seem very real. The story was about a young man from a prominent and wealthy Dallas family who didn’t take no for an answer one night. The teenager and his girlfriend had been making-out in the back seat of his car; he didn’t stop when she said, “STOP,” and he was being charged with rape. How unbelievably awful! Her life scarred and potentially ruined. And his too, for that matter. How could he do this? Why didn’t he stop? Then the judgment came – how could he not know better? Why didn’t his parents, his dad, teach him better…talk to him? But maybe they did. And then the worst thought yet: oh God, what if my boys ever did something like that?

All of these horrific scenes flashed through my head of one of my now sweet little boys, grown up and more than misbehaving: hurting another person, hurting a woman. And then suddenly, it was all clear to me. It hit home. This is our problem! This is our issue! There is no violence against women—no domestic violence, no dating abuse—without the abuser. And that’s us! We men are the problem! And how scary, how truly horrific, that the only role we men have played in this issue up until now, is being the problem!

Men must have another role, a larger part to play in the fight to end domestic violence. What I’ve come to fully understand since I read that article nearly three years ago, is that it’s just not enough for us men to be good guys. It’s not enough for us to not abuse our spouse, girlfriend or loved one. It’s just not enough to read articles every day about women who are hurt in our society by men who say they love them and for us to close the page and say, “What a shame, glad I’m not that type of guy.”

Don’t get me wrong, there are many men—some who are quite organized, articulate and vocal—that have been speaking loudly and passionately about ending violence against women for some time. They have been and will continue to be champions. They get it. But the majority of men—the majority of people, in fact—do not get the role of men here. We men have a larger part to play in ending violence against women, and it’s more than just not being abusive. I understand that talk is cheap and real change comes with action. But I’ve come to believe that the biggest job we men have in ending violence against women is just that: talk. Talking to our sons about what it means to be a gentleman; talking to our daughters about what they should expect and not accept in a relationship; and, perhaps most important of all, talking to each other—other men—about what it means to be a real man.

It takes a lot of courage for a man to speak up to another man and say, “I see the way you talk to your girlfriend. It’s not okay. In fact, it’s completely unacceptable.” It takes courage for a man to say to another, “I know you hit your wife and I want nothing to do with you.”

Courage? Really? How hard could it really be for a man to speak up when confronted with an opportunity to do something, you ask? But here’s the problem. We tell ourselves stories. We tell ourselves that we don’t know the circumstances. We weren’t there. We don’t really know the situation. We shouldn’t interfere. We don’t want to judge. We might offend our buddy if we speak up to him about such a personal matter. Offend him?

The fact is that it’s offensive that in the year 2014 one in four women and one in three girls will experience abuse at the hand of a man who says he loves her! It’s offensive that a child would grow up in a home with domestic violence thinking that abuse is a normal part of relationships. And it’s offensive the only role men have played is as the abuser!

The message must be clear and simple: A REAL MAN WILL NEVER HURT A WOMAN! Period. End of story! Now, let’s start talking!

webb-125Crayton Webb is Vice President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Dallas, Texas based Mary Kay Inc. Crayton oversees the company’s global media and public relations team and is also responsible for Mary Kay’s global CSR and philanthropic efforts. Crayton is chairman of the men’s auxiliary for Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas, HeROs (He Respects Others, #itsoffensive), and was recently appointed to the board of the Texas Council on Family Violence in Austin, Texas. Follow Crayton on Twitter: @craytonwebb.

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Men Can Be Victims of Abuse, Too

male-victimsAt the Hotline, we know that domestic violence can affect anyone – including men. According to the CDC, one in seven men age 18+ in the U.S. has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in his lifetime. One in 10 men has experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner. In 2013, 13% of documented contacts to the Hotline identified themselves as male victims. Although they make up a smaller percentage of callers to the Hotline, there are likely many more men who do not report or seek help for their abuse, for a variety of reasons:

Men are socialized not to express their feelings or see themselves as victims.
Our culture still clings to narrow definitions of gender (although there are signs that this is slowly shifting). Young boys are taught not to express their emotions, to “suck it up” and “be a man.” Tony Porter calls this the “man box” in his well-known TED talk. This can be extremely detrimental to boys as they age, especially if they find themselves in an abusive relationship. Men may feel discouraged to talk about what’s going on in their personal lives, or they feel like no one will believe them. They may not even realize that they are being abused, or they might assume they should just deal with the abuse on their own.

Pervading beliefs or stereotypes about men being abusers, women being victims.
The majority of domestic violence stories covered by the media are about male perpetrators and female victims who are typically in heterosexual relationships. While we certainly don’t want to minimize this violence, focusing on only one type of situation renders invisible the many scenarios that do not fit this definition, including abusive relationships among homosexual, bisexual, and trans* men. This might make many victims feel like they don’t have the space or the support to speak out about their own experiences and seek help.

The abuse of men is often treated as less serious, or a “joke.”
We’ve seen this in action recently with the elevator footage of Solange Knowles attacking Jay-Z. When a man is abused, many people don’t take it as seriously (in part due to the previous two reasons we’ve mentioned). The truth is, abuse is not a joke, in any situation, between any two people. All victims deserve support and resources to help them feel safe.

Many believe there are no resources or support available for male victims.
It can seem like the majority of shelters and services for domestic violence victims are women-focused. However, services for male victims do exist. Most federal funding sources require that domestic violence services be provided to all victims of abuse. Our advocates can provide information, assist with safety planning, and/or find local resources, if available. They can also help brainstorm alternative options if local programs are not meeting the requirements for male victims, including who a caller may be able to contact if they believe they have experienced discrimination.

No matter what your situation is, the Hotline is here to help, confidentially and without judgment. Please give us a call anytime, or chat online from 7am-2am CST.

A Few Resources for Men:

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Celebrate Father’s Day with the Hotline

fathersday-blogThis Father’s Day, we want to spread the message that male victims of domestic violence deserve support, resources, and hope for a healthy future. We know that regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation, men suffer from domestic violence. According to the CDC, one in seven men will be a victim of intimate partner violence – including emotional, verbal, and physical abuse – in his lifetime. At the Hotline, we believe that all people have the right to feel safe, happy, and respected in their relationships.

We also want to honor the many men who work to end abuse and serve as positive role models for their families and communities. Male voices can play a crucial role in the movement to end domestic violence – in fact, they are often on the other end of the line when people contact the Hotline or our partner organization, loveisrespect. Andrew, one of our advocates, had this to say when asked about his role:

The gift of doing this work as a man is that you find that you can be a source of strength and a trusted ally. No matter what we are told (or what we believe about ourselves, our male voices, or our masculinity), we can be among those empowering voices of care, compassion, and support. No one can ever truly walk in anyone else’s shoes, but we can learn to see things we hadn’t seen before. What I think we start to see as more men get involved in [this] work is that common ground is always out there to be found.

Evan, also an advocate at the Hotline, says:

“I think being a male advocate can be helpful to women who contact us because it lets them know there are men who are on their side, working to end domestic violence. It is also important for male victims and survivors, because they have a safe place to share their stories without the fear of judgment from family and friends.”

Is there a man who has made a positive difference in your life? Celebrate him during the month of June by:

  • Sharing on social media. If you tweet at us (@ndvh) about a male friend or family member you respect and admire, we’ll retweet you!
  • Making a donation to the Hotline. Your generosity will help ensure that our advocates are on the other end of the line for men and families who need assistance. Donate directly to the Hotline here.
  • Shopping with AmazonSmile. Need a Father’s Day gift? Shop through the AmazonSmile program and Amazon will donate an extra $5 to the Hotline.

Additionally, we’d like to acknowledge the numerous organizations that are dedicated to engaging and supporting men in healthy ways, including:

  • A Call To Men works to “create a world where all men and boys are loving and respectful and all women and girls are valued and safe.”
  • White Ribbon is “the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.”
  • GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project envisions “a future where individuals, communities, institutions and policymakers are all working together to increase awareness, reduce the incidence of domestic violence, and foster an environment in which all survivors have equal access to quality services regardless of their gender identity/expression and/or sexuality.”
  • Men Can Stop Rape’s mission is to “mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.” Their website also has a list of men’s anti-violence organizations across the country.

Please join with us this Father’s Day to support the men and fathers suffering from domestic violence, and honor those who work to create a world free from abuse.