TALK DC: Exploring Men's Role in Ending Violence

Monday, 30 March 2015
Bethesda, Maryland

On Monday, March 30, Joyful Heart held our first TALK event on the East Coast in the Washington, DC area at the beautiful home of Jaime and Andrew Schwartzberg. The discussion was part of a series Joyful Heart has developed called TALK, aimed at gathering and engaging communities to explore a myriad of issues related to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. The theme of this discussion was exploring men's role in ending violence against women. 

"Why talk? Because it's the number one building block of this change we're looking to create: the end of violence and abuse."
- Maile Zambuto, Joyful Heart Foundation

According to research conducted by the Avon Foundation for Women, more than 60 percent of Americans know someone who has been a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. More than half (58 percent) of women who disclosed an experience of domestic violence said that no one helped them.  Almost 75 percent of parents with children under 18 years old have never had a conversation about violence in the home. Yet almost two-thirds of Americans say that if we talked more about these issues, it would make it easier to help someone. 

We were joined by Ted Bunch, co-founder of A CALL TO MEN, who presented on the issues and facilitated a discussion on what men—as fathers, teachers, coaches, community and business leaders and role models—can do to shape the hearts and minds of our sons to live with respect. 

"When we develop and promote a healthy defintion of manhood, we decrease and prevent violence against women and girls."
- Ted Bunch, A CALL TO MEN

It was not only a joyful evening to connect with one another and meet a new community in the Capitol area, but a deeply stirring testament to the power of turning towards these issues.

As so many of those in attendance shared, it is being parents that draws us into the conversation: the desire to create a safer world for our children—one in which our daughters are respected and our sons are respectful.

We have come to treat violence and abuse as all but inevitable, passively accepting that they are part of society’s fabric. They are not. Quite the opposite—they tear society apart. And they are preventable. To do this though, we have to challenge the socialization of men by examining the social norms, culture and traditional images of manhood. We have to talk about how this socialization contributes to our collective silence around and tolerance of violence against women. We have to offer concrete solutions and practical steps toward ending violence and raising our sons to live with respect.

This is what we explored together. 

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