By: Natalia Angeles
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the East Los Angeles Women Center focuses on ways boys and men can engage against domestic violence and sexual assault.
The East Los Angeles Women Center conducted a workshop titled, “Engaging Boys and Men to End Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.” The event was held by Prevention Specialist, Osvaldo “Ozzie” Cruz and Outreach/Advocate Specialist, Luis Mendoza.
Both Cruz and Mendoza spoke on the different ways boys and men can start informing themselves about domestic violence and sexual assault. “Men have the capacity to intervene when they witness violence,” Cruz said. He believes that men can become role models for future generations to come. “It is time to look at the men within our household, within our society so that we can all experience a life without violence,” Cruz said.
The hardest conversations are within one’s family. Yet, without these uncomfortable conversations the cycle of domestic violence will keep going. These conversations are not to separate one another, but in fact to challenge and bring people in rather than pushing people out.
“Sometimes we challenge others to break the norm society has molded us to uphold,” said ELAC student Chris Alvarado. Others in the audience agreed with Alvardo and began the conversation of what norms boys and men have been taught to follow. One example of a response when a boy falls is to “Man up” or “Get up or else, I am going to give you a reason to cry about,” “Stop crying like a girl.” Responses like these are what’s limiting boys’ ability to show vulnerability, said Cruz. Most of this build-up causes them to showcase anger. Cruz and Mendoza suggest that it is time to reclaim what manhood defines. By doing so, it creates safe places for boys and men to talk without judgment. Essentially, the behavior presented when domestic violence occurs all based on the examples that were given to boys growing up.
There must be a shift in the examples men are showing their sons. This involves having conversations like, “let me share with you what are the values that stem from healthy relationships. We can create these processes with no other than intention,” Cruz said.
The fight against domestic violence and sexual assault should not fall all on women. It includes the responsibility men have to stand up for women and have more voices and stories be heard. With both communities coming together, levels should go down and domestic violence will be shown in future years. “I hope many men can see this issue. Like Cruz said men should be supportive instead of bashing women,” said Alondra Zamora, a student. For more information on workshops and virtual events on domestic violence see website: https://www.elawc.org/dvam21