Updated: Oct 7, 2018
As with all survivors, a LOT was stirred within me in response to Dr. Ford’s and Judge Kavanaugh’s respective hearings. I do not wish to debate politics at this moment, but I do wish to discuss the broader picture: Male Violence.
How can we prevent violence from the perspective of the perpetrator, not of the victim; what do survivors want from men; and how good men can help?
Adjusting Our Language & Perspective
In an effort to adjust our focus from the survivor’s responsibility of traumatic events, let’s begin by changing our language. The very first way that was brought to my attention was from labeling these crimes as “violence against women*” or “crimes against women”, to “male violence”. I like it. It’s a welcome change.
Another way we can propel change lies in the way we ask questions. Although it is crucial to record the testimony of the survivor, it is important we shift our focus on not why this happened to the victim but rather why the perpetrator thought the crime was OK or valid to pursue. What was the perpetrator thinking? Were they drinking or had other substances in their system? What is their background/who are their immediate role models? How has society perpetuated accepting these perspectives and actions?
As we dive deeper into why the perpetrator decided to and then continued with their plan to hurt their victim, we will begin to populate proper, previously unknown, data and hopefully fill in some blanks that our scientific community needs in order to answer these questions.
Although the survivor’s platform is very necessary, we need to shift our focus to the men who are violent. More directly, it has been high time our society looks at what they’ve swept under the rug.
What Survivors (of male violence) Want
I want to thank the men that can disregard this, the men who stand up for women, this section is not for you but please feel free to read just in case.
This entire week has also made me think about our (women’s) message to the men who are committing these crimes and to the men who don’t understand why we’re upset. I have compiled a non-exhaustive list that I think will help clear the air.
First, to the violent men:
The violence needs to stop now. It should have never occurred in the first place.
We refuse to back down.
It is our right when and how and if we come forward.
Do not blame us for “reporting late”, blame yourself for ever hurting someone in the first place.
Second, to the men who don’t understand why we’re upset:
If you cannot, within your own mind, empathize with us then I beg you to read any literature on a person who has been abused or assaulted. My mini book is a great place to start as it is free and a quick, easy read.
The debate about evidence, how we treat the accused, details around the claims, political advancement or delay, are ALL VALID; however, survivors beg you at this time to look at the broader picture: Violence. Is. Unacceptable. The reason being is that this case will be decided not by the people but by a small group that none of us have any authority over but we DO have authority over how society views victims and what we can do to end violence.
Specifically with women - we are socialized to be quiet and small, although that is changing. When we’re further debated with, regarding the politics surrounding the issue of male violence, it trivializes our experience(s) and it reinforces what society has told us all along about ourselves and especially about our trauma: to shut up.
Lastly, our argument is not about whether or not we come forward, it’s about male violence no longer existing, and we need your help to make this happen.
Last, but not least, to the men who already get it:
How we could use your help to end male violence:
Recognize the power of your influence within the male community
Speak out against anti-female jokes or stories or mistreatment
Don’t appease the women you know by saying, “you’re valued,” or “I respect you,” instead act on those values
If someone comes forward with an assault claim - be it at work or elsewhere - take it seriously, be there for the victim, and when they’re calm ask them what they would like to do. It is always up to the victim as to what action needs to be taken.
Know the red flags of abuse or controlling tendencies and call them out, man to man, when noticed (i.e. walking away in the middle of a discussion or board meeting, fuming temper, throwing things or property damage, erratic behavior, excessive substance abuse, etc.)
If you have the power as a father or manager, etc. give strong consequences to negative behavior
If you’re a father, speak with your children about violence and personal deescalation
Lastly, practice what you expect from other men in your personal community, such as peaceful interactions, upholding the law, respectful treatment of all people, etc.
The main issue I see is the men reading this are more than likely already the type of men we appreciate and need. This is why it is critical that you hold other men, the men who won’t read this, to the standard you hold yourself. Please replicate yourself and your attitude toward violence within your community.
The fact that Kavanaugh has been confirmed since the original posting of this article only echoes my point that none of this is about politics. The nation of victims is still here. The survivors still have to live with their fury. The men are still causing irreversible pain. This is where we need to focus, more Kavanaughs will come. So, let's all rally around change, big change, change that shifts our culture, our expectations, and eventually our institutions will follow suit.
*I understand not all violence is solely done to women, I speak only about women here because of my general audience; however, you can certainly substitute ‘women’ with children or men. The overarching point is that most violence stems from men’s hands.