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Being a Man Means
Stopping Domestic Violence
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), a designation that began in 1995 as concern and ideas for stopping abuse reached a peak. Today, this issue needs to be at the forefront if family men want to raise happy children and lead contented lives, themselves. While violence in the home isn't committed exclusively by men, we are the major culprits. Men in our society are taught that being in control is masculine, which is just one reason violence becomes an option in fits of anger. A history of violence in the family, passed down from parents, is also a huge contributing factor.
This is a problem with such complexity, and such a tremendous stigma, that talking about it becomes crucial. Men who abuse their partners or children usually feel shame and want to stop it, and sometimes they don't realize that they are abusive. Examples of domestic violence - be it physical (including sexual) or verbal - can include everything from threatening someone to that mistaken slap in anger to actual beating.
Numbers reported by the American Bar Association show that at least 1 million women suffer nonfatal violence at the hands of someone they are close to.
In one year alone, more than 500,000 men were arrested for committing violence against women, as opposed to less than 50,000 women being arrested for committing violence against men.
And, according to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, a national survey found that "50 percent of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children."
What to Do
All dads should do everything they can to prepare for parenting in the most emotionally stable way they can. For some fathers, it's more difficult, which is why it's a good idea to consider
There are many experts out there who can help men end aggression toward women and children. Rob Okun of the Men's Resource Center is committed to helping men face and defeat the demons that cause them to be violent in his nationally recognized domestic violence groups. In these groups, meetings focus on learning to:
- keeping yourself healthy (mentally and physically),
- taking parenting classes,
- and even seeking professional help if you have been a victim of abuse as a child.
- identify abusive behaviors and the warning signs that lead up to them
- practice strategies for choosing alternatives to violence and abuse
- recognize the effects of violence on family members
- develop respect for their partners and children
- think about how socialization contributes to their need to abuse and control others.
DVAM is simply a reason to begin the dialogue and, hopefully, end a cycle of violence that threatens our sons and daughters. More resources include the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the Gabe Kapler Foundation. Kapler, a member of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, started this organization with his wife Lisa, herself the victim of dating violence at the hand of a boyfriend prior to meeting Kapler. You can reach the foundation at http://www.kaplerfoundation.org. At http://www.familymanonline.com, men and women may learn about other resources and use our discussion boards (anonymously, if you'd like) to get support from other parents.
The way to truly help each other is to talk, guide, and vent. No one can expect to be in control all the time, and mistakes happen. But addressing the mistakes so they don't become or continue as a pattern is essential.
© 2005 Gregory Keer. All rights reserved.
Gregory Keer is a syndicated columnist, educator, and on-air expert on fatherhood. His Family ManTM column appears in publications such as L.A. Parent, Bay Area Parent, and Boston Parents' Paper. In addition to writing for Parenting magazine and the Parents' Choice Foundation, Keer publishes the online fatherhood magazine, www.familymanonline.com. He also contributes to USA Today, Pregnancy, DrLaura.com, and ParentingBookmark.com. Keer is a guest expert on television and radio and advisor to the Cartoon Network. He and his wife are the proud parents of three sons. Keer can be reached at www.familymanonline.com. For details on his parent coaching, go to www.familymanonline.com/section.php?section=consulting.
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