The statistics are startling. According to a Commonwealth Fund survey, nearly one-third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
While the mere thought of this is overwhelming, there is good news. By educating yourself and those around you about violence against women, you can make a difference to those currently experiencing it and to the generations to come. This is a community problem and it takes all of us to solve the problem and create change in our communities.
“Many people are reluctant to talk about abuse because they consider it a ‘private problem’ or a ‘women’s issue,'” said Sheryl Cates, executive director of the Texas Council on Family Violence, operators of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “But learning that domestic violence is a pattern of power and control that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners can start to break down some of the common misconceptions about this issue and help bring it out from behind closed doors.”
Recently, men have taken up the mantle and come out loud and clear with their message: no more violence against women.
One way men are getting involved is by talking to the young boys in their lives about building healthy relationships.
Despite conventional wisdom, young people want guidance from adults. Research indicates that almost half of boys and girls say that they want to know more about relationship abuse – what it means and how to stop it. In the same survey, 31 percent of teens age 13 to 17 reported they or a friend experienced dating violence.
Adult men play an important and unique role in molding the thoughts and attitudes in a young man’s life. Talking to boys early and often is a crucial step in stopping the cycle of violence. By doing so, they can counteract the countless messages boys see and hear equating violence with “being strong,” “acting tough” and “being a man.”
To that end, Liz Claiborne Inc. has collaborated with experts in the area of family violence and compiled a handbook to help men start what can be difficult conversations with the boys in their lives on this important topic.
The handbook, titled “Tough Talk: What Boys Need to Know About Relationship Abuse,” is the latest in a series of booklets created by the company to help men, women, parents and teens address the issue.