Recorded Jan. 13, 2021; broadcast on Jan. 21, 2021.
Elizabeth Herrera Eichenberger is the executive director of True North of Columbia – an organization that supports survivors of domestic and sexual violence through “safety, shelter, education and transitional support.”
She spoke about their Men as Allies Program, and about the role men can play in reducing domestic and sexual violence against women.
Executive Director, True North of Columbia
Health Reporter, Missouri Health Talks and KBIA
Elizabeth Herrera Eichenberger: I think – this is a little controversial, but I think men are both perpetrators, but they're also victims of the system, in a way. I think the way we socialize our men has a deep-rooted impact in their psychological and emotional well-being.
I also think that the way we approach relationships and the lack of education on healthy relationships and boundaries also contributes to violence towards women. But again, the statistics don't lie – most of our perpetrators are men and most of our victims are women.
The idea of “men as allies” has been in the movement for a really long time, and we, I'm very passionate about male violence – I have two sons, and I always think about how am I helping and shaping them to develop into healthy men that are in tune with their emotions and don't feel that they need to have ownership or need to overpower anyone?
And so, we involve men to be a part of the conversation, and the reason why we call it “men as allies” is because this is an allyship relationship. I don't need you to be the voice for women – that hasn't worked. I don't need women to be at the front and you guys sitting in the back – we've done that for hundreds, probably thousands of years – I need you beside me, and we need to walk together and share a cohesive message of what violence looks like.
You know, I need you to take responsibility, take ownership for your impact as men, and men have an incredible amount of power in our society. Leading by example is number one, and the way we joke around with each other, the way that men joke around with each other – normalizing certain behavior – has a huge impact, especially on younger men.
Rebecca Smith: So, I’m wondering Elizabeth. What is something men can do in their daily life to help change this system? To help reduce violence against women?
Elizabeth: The first thing is asking the women in your life, “How does it feel?” and what is their experience with safety and violence? I think that could be a really big starting point.
Being an active bystander. Speak up. When you hear that rape joke, when you hear that inappropriate thing that was said about a woman or commenting and oversexualizing women – speak up! It's not okay, and what it does, it dehumanizes women; it puts them in a category of second-class citizens and does have a long-term impact.
Be accountable for what they're hearing – not having the attitude of “this doesn't pertain to me,” but rather, “this is really inappropriate. That rape joke, it's not funny,” and you know, having the courage to do that – to speak up when injustices are happening.
Do not be a silent bystander. You have power and you have a lot of power. Use it. Use it for the greater good. The world will be transformed by your example – that's how powerful you are.
_If you or anyone you know needs help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. For the Deaf Crisis Line videophone call 321-800-3323 or text HAND to 839863.
Or contact True North of Columbia directly at 573-875-1370._
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