Male Perspective On Domestic Abuse Discussed At Medgar Evers

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The problem of male violence against women has been around much, much longer, falling under the umbrella of patriarchy and sexism.

[Brooklyn News]

In recognition of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Medgar Evers College hosted a forum titled "Domestic Violence: Moving Men from Allies to Activists."

Hosted by the Male Development and Empowerment Center (MDEC) and Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK), this gathering was the first event in a long-term plan to address this issue from a male perspective. The goal is to: prompt discussions that assist men in identifying abusive tendencies; educate men on where to get help with this issue; and, train men on how to safely intervene when they encounter an abusive situation.

In his welcoming remarks, MDEC Director Larry Martin spoke of an incident in early September in which a young man ambushed and shot his estranged wife on Carroll St. near the college. This propelled his department and others at MEC to begin an ongoing initiative to reach out to young men on campus and in the community to focus attention on the issue of domestic violence.

The forum’s first panelist was Lumumba Bandele, a SEEK counselor and instructor who is also a community organizer. He pointed out that while the September assault had captured people’s attention; the problem of male violence against women has been around much, much longer, falling under the umbrella of patriarchy and sexism.

"All those things that we social justice activists struggle against like police brutality and all kinds of racial injustice – these things are relatively new in comparison to the issue of gender oppression," he stated.

Bandele said, too, that as men, they each need to ask themselves what is their direct responsibility on this issue because everyone, even men who have never abused a woman emotionally or physically, is acquainted with men who have. "Therefore, our responsibility is to begin to change the cultural tide that exists within our circle," he declared. "For instance, we need to stop making jokes like, ‘Oh, you let your girl do that? You should slap her!’ Small things like that can, in time, lead to a woman being shot by her husband on Carroll Street," Bandele continued. "We have to create an environment where that kind of attitude, thinking and behavior is not tolerated."

Next to speak was Quentin Walcott, program director of CONNECT Training Institute (CTI), which educates people about the dynamics and consequences of family violence. Walcott began by emphasizing the fact that – despite the efforts of some to convince others that violence is instigated equally by men and women – domestic violence is a male issue because it is men who commit the overwhelming majority of physical, psychological, emotional, and financial abuse. Ninety-two percent of the cases reported are men abusing women.

Walcott went on to note that when a man views a woman as an object, he won’t treat her the same way he treats someone he sees as a human being. "If we see a woman as just body parts, something we own or control, we will continue to be violent," Walcott stated. "Objectification is the beginning of thinking we can do whatever we want with a woman. We need to see women as our equals."

The third panelist was community activist and author Kevin Powell, who has spoken and written extensively on the issue of domestic violence, including in his own life. He told of growing up in an abusive environment and eventually finding himself shoving a woman into a bathroom door. Luckily, there were some older adults who witnessed it and impressed upon him that he needed to get some help.

"The first step is taking ownership of what you did, and the second step is getting help," Powell stated. "And even if you’re not the kind of male who would do certain things, if you have a fraternity brother or a friend who you let do it, you’re just as guilty."

During the forum, Student Government President Kesten Boyce also commented that many young people think of domestic violence as something that only occurs among grownups. However, when polled, one in three female high school students revealed that they had been involved in a violent relationship, and among college students 20 percent of females said they had been. The problem is definitely on the rise among youth.


Please see endabuse.org and menstoppingviolence.org. To learn more about Medgar Evers College’s upcoming trainings for men looking for assistance and for men who want to learn how to intervene, contact the Male Development & Empowerment Center at (718) 270-6111 or email officer@mec.cuny.edu

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