, Newburyport, MA

April 3, 2013

Confronting violence

Newburyport Daily News

---- — NEWBURYPORT — Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and author Andre Dubus III yesterday were key speakers at a White Ribbon Breakfast as part of a program that organizers hope will inspire men and boys to work together to end violence against women and girls.

The event was organized by the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, whose officials said this was a gathering that “provides men and women in our community with a unique opportunity to hear from two prominent men whose lives have been affected by domestic violence.”

Mark Welch, retired president of the Institution of Savings, served as moderator between the two contributors.

“Violence against women is really a men’s issue in many ways,” said Welch, in a statement. “In the majority of domestic violence episodes, the perpetrator is a man.

“In order to stop violence, it is essential that men and boys be engaged in a conversation that will lead to changed behavior.”

Crisis center officials said that men can take the following action to prevent gender violence:

Approach gender violence as a men’s issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds.

If a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner — or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general — don’t look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Or if you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. Don’t remain silent.

Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.

If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.

If you are abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help. Be an ally to women who are working to end gender violence. Attend Take Back the Night rallies and other public events. Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing.

Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about masculinity, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence.

Don’t fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner.

Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men’s programs.

The mission of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center is to empower community members “to live free from fear, intimidation, violence or the threat of abuse by providing support, advocacy and education.”

Communities it serves include Amesbury, Merrimac, Georgetown, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, West Newbury and Groveland.