Domestic violence advocacy calls for male participation

By Annette Quijada

Due to an increase of domestic violence and sexual assualt this year, the East Los Angeles Women’s Center has decided to take action and host informative online workshops.
Cases have gone up with the stay-at-home orders in place these past months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women says, “Emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified.”
This increase in domestic violence has caused a concern among many activists and organizations.
Last Thursay, the East Los Angeles Women’s Center hosted “Engaging Boys and Men to End Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault,” a Zoom workshop in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Workshop faciliators were Prevention Specialist Osvaldo Cruz and Outreach Specialist Luis Mendoza.
They aimed to inform the audience on why boys and men need to be part of the conversations that involve domestic violence and sexual assault.
One of the their main points was that violence against women, children and other men is indeed, a men’s issue.

The topics discussed were messages that boys and men need to hear more often.
Cruz and Mendoza asked the audience, “Do we console young boys the same way we console young girls when they fall and hurt themselves? What do we tell the boys instead?” To which many of them commented that boys are told to, “Walk it off,” “Be a big boy” and “Don’t cry, crying is for girls.”
These young boys are forced to accept this narrative at a very early age. Cruz said it’s a sad reality for many households, especially in communities like East Los Angeles where there is a large Latino demographic and the issue of machismo being deeply rooted in the Latino culture.
Another key point in the workshop was why young boys and men need to be included in discussions of domestic violence and sexual assault.
They said it’s important to note that most reported cases of domestic violence and sexual assault are perpetuated by men, as men are also victims of both domestic violence and sexual assault.
“We say phrases like, “Good girls don’t initiate,” or “Real men lead the way,” these (phrases) tell boys that they must initiate contact, instead of connecting and understanding where the other person is,” said audience member Ben Hartwell.
But without men taking the time to be active bystanders or to exemplify healthy masculinity, it becomes more difficult for them to take part in the conversation and for them to involve their family and friends.
Cruz said that historically domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy has been seen as only a women’s issue, and it’s important for men to play a role in advocating against violence. The pressure should be lifted off the shoulders of women.
If both men and women work together to bring awareness, domestic violence and sexual assault advocates could be looking forward to lower rates of occurrence.
For victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault, the East Los Angeles Women Center has a 24/7 bilingual hotline. For more information contact (800)-585-6231.

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