The staggering statistic that 25 percent of women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime is something the Nevada County Domestic Violence Sexual Abuse Coalition seeks to change through a men’s workshop Thursday.
“We are calling fathers, coaches, educators, community and faith leaders to stand up and do something about the violence that happens in our society,” said Gayle Guest-Brown, executive director for DVSAC.
The forum will include solutions and opportunities to engage men on attitudes and influences that contribute to violence, said Ernest Brown, voices against violence volunteer with WEAVE Inc, Sacramento’s sexual assault and domestic violence services agency.
“It may be one of the first times we’ve engaged men on the subjects about ending violence against women,” he said.
“Why is it that a woman can be a victim and people will blame the victim? This is to explore those things and have a discussion about what’s going on, which will be eye-opening for a lot of men … It’s one of those things where once the eyes are open, you don’t see things the same way again.”
A Call to Men speaks to well-intentioned men and seeks to expand the perception from individual to community, Brown said.
“There’s going to be a lot of men that would say, ‘Why would I get involved? It’s a woman’s issue,’ but it’s not a woman’s issue because men are 90 percent of the perpetrators of violence,” he said.
“A lot of well-meaning men are going to say ‘My family is OK, my kids are OK, we don’t have that issue,’ but you live in a community where even if your household is OK, your daughters and nieces are going to be dating other people in the community, and maybe they’re not OK.”
The event involves speakers from the community with speeches from Brown; Sairam Moore, a violence prevention advocate for DVSAC and boys council leader; Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster; Rev. Mike Griffin, senior pastor of Sierra Presbyterian Church; and Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell.
“Domestic violence affects everybody in the community,” said Newell.
“I see the devastation it causes within a family, the impact it has on the community in general, and it’s something that can be prevented early on.”
Guest-Brown hosted A Call to Men in Sacramento, where she worked at the time, with a grant she received, and wanted the same opportunity for Nevada County.
“We want our daughters and nieces and sisters to be safe and make the world better,” she said, adding,
“There’s a great quote from Hillary Clinton, which states, ‘As long as girls and women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled, subjected to violence in and outside their homes — the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized.’”
In order for that world to exist, Guest-Brown said, change from a cultural and societal level must take place.
“If the music was too loud next door, the police would be called, but if a neighbor woman was screaming at the top of her lungs, people think, ‘It’s their house and their business,’ and you’re not supposed to interfere, and it’s everybody’s business.”
Guest-Brown said over time, the statistics of domestic abuse have remained the same and are doomed to continue without activism.
The vision DVSAC has for the community is one of peace, justice and the safety and well-being of every individual, Guest-Brown said.
“These are universal values and we want those things for our community,” she said.
“It starts with each one of us accepting that we can have that kind of world.”
The event will be 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday at DVSAC at 960 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley. To RSVP, contact 530-272-2046.
“You can do things to make sure your community is healthier than it might be if you did nothing,” Brown said.
“If you don’t do anything different, there will never be anything different and the only way we’re going to end violence against women is if we’re all manning the war.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.