Once again, domestic and sexual violence is in the headlines. Once again, we read or hear about some celebrity or athlete beating up his girlfriend or wife. Once again, there’s an item in the daily police report about an arrest for a man abusing a woman.
In fact, it’s very likely that you know someone who has been abusive or has been abused. Maybe that someone is you.
There has been a lot of focus, attention, services and thought directed toward the victims of domestic and sexual violence, and rightly so. But focusing on the victim doesn’t generally stop the violence. It might help that one person escape the pattern of violence she is in, but often the abuser will find himself in another relationship and soon another victim will experience the same degradation, abuse and violence.
There have been efforts lately, in Kansas and many other states, to offer Batterer’s Intervention Programs. This treatment approach allows individuals who engage in domestic and sexual violence to address and treat these behaviors and patterns of abuse they perpetrate upon their victims. But these programs are all after the fact. These services are in place after a person has already abused another.
The Year of Peace Committee helped gather a group to create a grassroots taskforce looking in to ways we as a community can work to prevent this violence from taking place in the first part. We recognize that prevention is the most important area for us to focus our efforts if we really want to decrease and eliminate domestic and sexual violence in our community.
We have an opportunity coming up to hear a nationally recognized speaker address the issue of domestic and sexual violence. Don McPherson was a unanimous All-American quarterback at Syracuse University who led his team to an undefeated season. He has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and he played in the Canadian Football League as well as the NFL. He brings that prominence as a sports figure into the national discussion of domestic and sexual violence prevention.
I had the opportunity to hear Don speak recently at a conference sponsored by the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. What I appreciated most about his speech was his focus on men. He called this a man’s issue because it is more often men perpetuating violence towards their female partners. He referred to a “toxic masculinity,” a culture that to be a man, we have to be dominant, aggressive, violent and in control. If we are challenged in our manhood, we believe we must meet that challenge with force.
Please come hear Don speak Sept. 15. At the very least, he is entertaining, and I believe you will leave his presentation with a stronger passion to do what we can to eliminate sexual and domestic violence in our lives and the lives of our neighbors.
(At 1 p.m. Don will speak to students from throughout the area in a presentation at Concordia High School. The public is invited, without charge, to his 7 p.m. presentation at Cook Theatre on the Cloud County Community College campus. )
— Chuck Lambertz is the Western Region Therapy and Recovery Services Supervisor for Pawnee Mental Health and a member of the Concordia City Commission. He and his wife Amber have two daughters.