If organizations like REACH, the police departments, and the courts were the only people who cared about domestic violence, then not much in our society would change. We do our best to help those who have already been affected by domestic violence, helping them plan for safety and get connected to resources, but until we change the social norms and systems that allow it to take place, it will continue to happen.
That’s why we have Prevention programs, and why a key part of our prevention strategy (in addition to education) is encouraging people to get together and take action to end domestic violence. We can provide information and training about the warning signs of abuse, what to do or say if a friend is experiencing it, but what we really want is for people and communities to own this issue for themselves.
We get really excited when we see this happening, and it seems to be happening a lot this month! On Thursday, March 1, Jane Doe Inc (the Massachusetts coalition against domestic and sexual violence) held a press conference kicking off the annual White Ribbon Campaign, which challenges men to play a role in ending relationship violence. Rather than holding a larger event this month, they are focusing on community-based events. The Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable (of which REACH is a part) is holding one such community event. The program is called “The Role of Men in the Time of #MeToo” and will take place Tuesday, April 10 at 3pm (rescheduled from March 13 due to snow!). Men from all three towns will participate, including REACH Advisory Board member and Middlesex County Sherriff Peter Koutoujian, and the chiefs of police. Anyone who lives in Sudbury, Wayland, or Lincoln is encouraged to be part of this meaningful event.
Adults aren’t the only ones who are making their voices heard. Following the devastating school shooting in Parkland, Florida, teens who were directly affected by that incident have set the tone and led the way for students across the country to become activists around the issue of common sense gun legislation. Since there are inextricable links between domestic violence, guns, and mass shootings, this is an issue we should all care about. We work with teens every day in our Prevention program who are leading the way in educating their peers about healthy relationships. So it comes as no surprise to us to see teens leading the way on guns. Last week students across the country held a walk-out of their classrooms in protest, and this coming weekend, marchers in Boston will join demonstrators in hundreds of other cities in the “March for our Lives” – all inspired by the Parkland students.
On Monday, March 26, REACH will join with domestic and sexual violence advocates and survivors from across Massachusetts for Jane Doe Inc.’s annual “Day of Action.” This is a day of meeting with lawmakers to advocate for legislation and funding that is essential to our work. For more about the specifics of what we’ll be advocating for, check out this recent news item on our website.
We hope that hearing about all of these exciting things has you thinking about your own role. Will you join community members at one of these opportunities? Start your own? If you need ideas and support, REACH can help. Contact our Prevention team today!