This story was originally featured in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Most Father’s Days, I celebrate by spending time with my family. My wife and I might dust off the grill and play games in the backyard with our three healthy (and often rambunctious) little boys and our one-year-old baby girl. After we put the kids to bed, maybe we’ll have a drink on the patio or watch a movie. My only worry will most likely be how to get everybody to bed on time.
But for women and children experiencing domestic abuse, a day of peace and relaxation is constantly out of reach. In Texas alone, about 38 percent of women experience family violence in their lifetime, and more than 100 Texas women are killed each year.
As a man, I find it offensive that the only role we are perceived to have played in this issue is being the problem. As men, we must have a larger part to play in the fight to end domestic violence. It’s just not enough for us to not abuse our spouse, girlfriend or loved one. It’s not enough to read articles every day about women who are hurt by men who say they love them and close the story with a fleeting thought: “What a shame – I’m glad that’s not me.”
There is no such thing here as an innocent bystander. If we really want to end domestic violence, we have to stop it before it starts. We have to change our culture. Men have to own violence against women as a man’s issue, a man’s problem. For men to be part of the solution, we have to challenge the way we think, the way we behave and talk and the way we raise our children – both our sons and daughters. We have a responsibility to reach the next generation of men – boys my sons’ age – and challenge the way we look at women and ourselves.
For me, the avenue of being part of the solution was found through the Genesis HeROs (He Respects Others), a men’s auxiliary group of Genesis Women’s Shelter. Genesis focuses on providing services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence through counseling, emergency shelter, transitional housing and more. Likewise, Genesis HeROs are dedicated to creating safe homes and safe communities for domestic violence survivors. We are fathers, brothers, boyfriends, sons, friends and husbands who exist to tell the world that we share zero tolerance for domestic abuse in our community.
As Genesis HeROs, our goal is to engage and mobilize men to volunteer their time to help us end domestic violence. Forty percent of boys who witness domestic violence go on to become abusers themselves, so breaking the cycle through mentoring opportunities is critical for future generations. We also coordinate weekly barbeques at the Genesis emergency shelter, serving as a positive male presence for women and children to remind them that there are gentle men on their side.
We cannot have safe communities if we don’t have safe homes, and we can’t leave the issue on the steps of our city officials, courts or police departments. We must all come together with zero tolerance to provide safety for victims and accountability for abusers. So this Father’s Day, consider being a hero in your community and taking a stand to end domestic violence.
Crayton Webb is Owner and CEO of Sunwest Communications. He is also the president of HeROs (He Respects Others), Genesis’ men’s auxiliary, and is on the board of the Texas Council on Family Violence in Austin, Texas.