Abuse: A Symptom of How We Raise Boys

The Adrian Peterson switching case led to a broad discussion of corporal punishment in America. The Ray Rice case led to greater awareness of domestic abuse. The recent story of hazing and sexual abuse in the locker room of the Sayreville, NJ boy’s high school football team shocked a community and led to the cancellation of the remainder of the season.

A deeper common theme resides below the surface in each of these stories: How we raise boys in America.

Joe Ehrmann, minister and former Baltimore Colts football star wrote, “All these problems I’ve been trying to deal with, they’re not just problems, they’re also symptoms. They’re symptoms of the single biggest failure of our society: We simply don’t do a good enough job of teaching boys how to be men.”

I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s, a typical middle class American boy: Sports mostly, school less so, buddies, and later girls. I learned from family,coaches, teachers, neighbors, and older boys the rules of masculinity and how to create the false and unhealthy facade Joe Ehrmann wrote about in his book, Inside Out Coaching: Strength, silence, stoicism, and emotional denial and disconnection—warmth withheld, hearts disconnected from heads, and failure not allowed. Terrence Real wrote in How Can I Get Through to You: “I have come to believe that violence is boyhood socialization. Disconnection is masculinity.” Boys who resist the rules of masculinity get belittled, bullied, and beat up.

I began to drink in college and the disease of alcoholism moved fast for me. My dad got me into a tough alcoholic treatment center and saved my life. The counselors broke down my defenses. Staff and patients gave me painful feedback all day, every day, for a month. I explored my values, thought about my purpose in life, and shared my personal inventory with a priest.

I began to learn to be emotionally self-aware, how to experience and understand my feelings, and how to connect with others. I felt the power of love and a sense of community in treatment that I’d never felt before. I wanted to live and to feel alive and left the treatment center scared and committed to a value-driven life. Treatment rescued me from a false self and the unhealthy rules of manhood, and I began the life-long journey to greater authenticity.

I’ve spent the past 40 years on a quest to learn and evolve not as a man but as a human being. On this journey, I’ve wrestled with the beliefs I was taught—mostly subtle and unconscious–about money, career, success, control, conformity, competition, masculinity, and relationships. I realized that most of what I had learned about masculinity and being a man is wrong. Moral courage, excellence, authenticity, human connection, and personal responsibility became important values I strive to live my life by—always imperfectly.

Ehrmann wrote that life is about relationships and purpose. He encourages boys to ask, “What is the core purpose of my life, why am I here?” and to think about the kind of son, brother, husband, father, friend, and neighbor they want to be.

American is in dire need of mature and healthy men who can put violence aside: Men who know what they feel and are able to express their emotions appropriately. We need men of strength—even ruthlessness in honesty and decision-making at times–who can also be caring and compassionate. We need kind and gentle men with empathy who can lead with tough-love  and hold others accountable. We need men of great moral courage who can tell the truth and stand up to the evil and dysfunction around them.

To raise boys differently, we must become aware of the unwritten rules of masculinity and change them and the ways we engage with young boys. Grown men who find the old rules insufficient for a meaningful life must embark on a journey of personal introspection and transformation. Personal evolution to become a more complete human being is difficult. Those who deny the journey as “touchy–feely” are saying, “This stuff scares me.”  Courage is required.

The goal isn’t to turn men into women but for men to become more alive and whole.

 

I recommend: Season of Life by Jeffrey Marx and Inside Out Coaching by Joe Ehrmann.   Visit: CoachforAmerica.com

The Dark Side of the Public Reaction to Ray Rice & Adrian Peterson

Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.

Aristotle

I too am bothered by the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson stories. My wife and I completed 40 hours of training as volunteer speakers at the Fargo/Moorhead Rape and Abuse Crisis Center. Our eyes were opened to the pervasiveness and destructiveness of abuse in our society. We did many projects for the Center, and I did many hours of consulting at no cost. I wrote several commentaries on emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Rice and Peterson will pay a dear price for their actions.

I am also bothered by what feels like excessive, misplaced, and poorly expressed anger in some newspaper columnists, readers who comment on articles, and radio talk-show hosts and their callers. They come across as politically correct, self-righteous, harshly judgmental, and self-promoting:  “The more I damn Rice and Peterson, the better person I am.” Their rush to judge and to punish without due process, information, understanding of context, or a sense of proportion scares me. I have thought, “This is what a lynch mob is like.” I’ve been guilty of these things too.

Some feel upset that the team management didn’t instantly punish Peterson as they want him to be punished. People should break away from their paternalistic relationship with organizations and quit looking to owners and executives to meet their need to strike out.

These folks and the good people who remain silent might channel some of their anger in more constructive ways: People who condemn Peterson and the Viking’s management should live true to their own values, put their anger to constructive use, and do what they can to model their convictions: don’t go, watch, or listen to Viking games. Don’t buy team merchandise. Columnists might illuminate abuse and educate readers. Talk-show hosts could turn the spotlight on the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that surrounds us just below the surface of our awareness.

All should get angry at the vast abuse that permeates our society, not just the celebrity cases.

And everyone should speak up when they witness abuse in the family, neighborhood, and workplace.

Ray Rice and The Abuse of Women (3)

Baltimore Ravens football star, Ray Rice, was recently suspended by the NFL for two games after a video showed him dragging his unconscious girl friend (now his wife) out of an Atlantic City hotel elevator.

Last Monday (Sept. 8, 2014) the Ravens fired Ray Rice and the NFL placed him on indefinite suspension after a new video showed Rice punching and knocking out his girlfriend moments before he dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator.

I wondered how, in the first video, did the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens think she became unconscious and unresponsive?

This is the third of several pieces I wrote over the past decade about abuse.

ABUSE: AN ISSUE FOR MEN

I would like abusers to imagine the pain and anguish they inflict and feel even one-tenth of that for themselves.

Abuse Victim

 Melanie, my wife, and I recently completed 48 hours of training at the local rape and abuse crisis center. We will volunteer our time and speak to groups about emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.

The schedule was grueling: two evenings a week for a month and two Saturdays. Approximately 20 people made the big commitment and will volunteer as advocates who take crisis calls during off hours, court watchers who keep track of cases in the legal system, and public speakers.

The training sessions were emotionally difficult for me. Speakers taught us about incest; stalking; cyber-sex; date rape; pedophilia; emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; and the many difficulties victims face with themselves, within families, in the legal system, and in our society, which often prefers to deny such horrible things. As I listened to the monstrous things men do to women and children, I felt ashamed to be a man.

A woman described how her father sexually abused her from age 9-15. Then her 12-year-old daughter spoke about how a foster child had sexually assaulted her when she was three years old. I admired their courage and appreciated the gift of their experiences.

I felt sadness and sorrow for the women and children abused by men. I felt outraged at the men who do such things. What went wrong with so many men? My father treated my mother with great respect. I feel contempt for men who abuse women in any way.

I felt disgust as I watched a video simulation of a father who manipulated his young daughter to have sex with him and called it love. What went wrong inside of a father to be able to violate his child’s trust in such a depraved way?

I watched another video of a simulated rape. I felt revulsion as I watched the bestial man degrade and violate a young woman who will live the horror of him for a lifetime. I thought of the almost daily news stories of rape and murder of young women by soul-dead men.

I loathed the young minister as he described proudly how he manipulated and abused children and talked his way out of trouble over and over again. He not only robbed the young children of their innocence, he made them out to be liars and robbed them of their voices. I find it difficult to think of such men as anything but evil as they do such anti-human things to others.

I asked a counselor what one thing she would change in the make-up of the abusers of all types if she could. She answered, “Empathy.” None of the abusers can feel for themselves what they do to others.

Many abusive men have good jobs—even leadership positions. They look normal. Many work hard to create a public image of success, citizenship, and community involvement. They put forth a false image. They don’t live their crafted image of goodness. Abusive men use their creativity for negative purposes, to control and inflict pain–they hurt others. Abusers want power and control over others. Abusers of every stripe exude entitlement and selfishness. They see others as possessions they own.

Men own the issue of abuse of women and children: men do the vast majority of abusive actions, men model for boys at home, at school, at work, and on the athletic fields. Other men watch silently.

Many police officers look the other way; many lawyers enable abusive men or abuse others themselves. Many judges remain ignorant of the dynamics of abuse and, as a result, make unjust decisions.

I see two challenges:

  • Hold abusers accountable.

I call on policemen, lawyers, and judges to learn about abuse and the dynamics of abusive men. The ignorant bear some measure of responsibility for what happen to women and children. Some of you think you don’t need to learn. Trust me, you do need to learn. I was a Secret Service Agent, a senior business executive, and an organizational consultant. I needed to learn. So do you.

Judges and lawyers who work in family law should be required to be educated about abuse and the dynamics of abusers. Without that education, they can be manipulated easily and unwittingly collude with the abuser. The local rape and abuse crisis center will be happy to help them. Lundy Bancroft’s books: “Why Does He Do That” and “The Batterer as Parent” should be required reading for every attorney and judge who work in family law.

Judges, lawyers, and policemen need to model respectful behavior and root the legal system of abusers. Often, as in all systems, the unethical and abusive people in the justice system go unchallenged. Members of the legal system who do not bear witness bear responsibility.

Robert Greenleaf, author of the seminal work on leadership, “Servant Leadership,” wrote that the insane, the irresponsible, the immature (and, I might add, the abusers), have been with us forever. The problem is the good people who go to sleep and do not stand up and bear witness for human suffering of every kind. When we refuse to look abuse in the face, we make a big mistake—we cooperate with abuse when we do not confront it.

We need to stand up courageously, whatever our walk of life, and hold abusers accountable: in the home, at the school, on the athletic field, throughout the workplace, and in the courts.

  • Raise boys differently.

We created the men of today. We need a new model for men. Head coach Biff Poggi and assistant Joe Ehrmann, a former NFL football star turned minister and volunteer coach, taught the players on the Gilman high school (Maryland) football team a new model of masculinity. They call their program of football and developing young men “Building Men for Others.” (See Ehrmann’s book, “Season of Life.”)

 Joe Ehrmann:

 I have spent almost the last twenty years as a minister. Most of my work is in the inner city of Baltimore, dealing with issues of poverty and systemic racism and family disintegration. I would say that in order to make America a more just and fair society, I would boil it down to the single greatest crisis. And that primary, critical issue is a concept of what it means to be a man. If we don’t fix our understanding, and get some proper definition of masculinity and manhood, I don’t think we can address other issues.

 Joe Ehrmann again:

 Masculinity, first and foremost, ought to be defined in terms of relationships. It ought to be taught in terms of the capacity to love and to be loved. If you look over your life at the end of it…life wouldn’t be measured in terms of success based on what you’ve acquired or achieved or what you own. The only think that’s really going to matter is the relationships that you had. It’s gonna come down to this: What kind of father were you? What kind of husband were you? What kind of coach or teammate were you? What kind of son were you? What kind of brother were you? What kind of friend were you? Success comes in terms of relationships.

 And I think of the second criterion—the only other criterion for masculinity—is that all of us ought to have some kind of cause, some kind of purpose in our lives that’s bigger than our own individual hopes, dreams, wants, and desires. At the end of our life, we ought to be able to look back over it from our deathbed and know that somehow the world was a better place because we lived, we loved, we were other-centered, other-focused.

How did the Gilman High School football team perform under their guidance? They had back-to-back undefeated seasons in 1998 and 1999 that put them at the top of state rankings. Poggi and Ehrmann measured success in two ways: by wins and losses and by the amount of ministry they’ve done with their kids to prepare them for lives of meaning and value to others.

Women also need to help raise little boys differently: teach them to define success by their relationships, commitment to something greater than themselves, and by their courage to stand up to injustice in all its forms. Women can also teach young girls to speak up about men’s violence. Then abusers will have no where to hide.

What affects one single woman out there…affects families, affects neighborhoods, affects the city, affects all of us. John Harrington, St. Paul, Minnesota Police Chief

What will you do to make a difference in the lives of women and children around you?

Ray Rice and The Abuse of Women (2)

Baltimore Ravens football star, Ray Rice, was recently suspended by the NFL for two games after a video showed him dragging his unconscious girl friend (now his wife) out of an Atlantic City hotel elevator.

Yesterday the Ravens fired Ray Rice and the NFL placed him on indefinite suspension after a new video showed Rice punching and knocking out his girlfriend moments before he dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator.

I wondered how, in the first video, did the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens think she became unconscious and unresponsive?

This is the second of several pieces I wrote over the past decade about abuse.

 

 EMOTIONAL ABUSE: I SEE MYSELF

 We separated for one week but he kept calling and crying on the phone. He begged and pleaded and promised to change. I could not take the pressure and told him he could return. He did not change.

Victim of Emotional Abuse

 

My wife and I spoke about emotional abuse to approximately 85 college students recently.

Millions of women (and some men) live with repeated verbal assaults, humiliation, sexual coercion, and other forms of psychological abuse, often accompanied by economic exploitation. I’ve worked in organizations for 40 years as a leader and consultant, and I’ve never been in an organization that didn’t have abuse as part of its dark side.

Yet few of the students had heard the term “emotional abuse.” It remains one of society’s dirty, dark secrets. Our communities that dehumanize women and children in scores of ways daily need to illuminate their many dark shadows.

We defined emotional abuse as the chronic use of words and acts (including body language) that devalue and frighten another person for the purpose of control. Emotional abusers rule the lives of victims through the power of words and actions and the constant implicit threat of physical assault.

Emotional abuse always precedes physical abuse. Not all emotional abusers become physical.

  1. Scott Peck, M.D. defined evil as the use of power to harm the spirit of another to maintain one’s sick self. Emotional abuse is clearly evil behavior. Each of us can decide for ourselves if we think abusers are evil people.

Consummate name-callers, abusers criticize constantly—nothing is ever good enough. They yell, scream, and drive the victim’s friends away to isolate her. They eavesdrop on phone conversations, censor mail, and expect instant responses to pages, cell phone calls, and instant messages. They control with lies, confusion, and contradictions; they make a person feel crazy. They lurk and they stalk. One abuser said to a victim: “I had to keep you down. I was afraid you would outshine me.”

Emotional abusers belittle the feelings of their victims, denigrate women as a group calling them crazy, emotional, or stupid. They withhold approval, appreciation, and affection to punish their victims. They put down their victims in public, take them out socially and then ignore them, and they prevent victims from working, going to school, or leaving the house alone. They control the money, make all the decisions, and require their permission to do or have anything. They are little gods unworthy of the power they abuse.

If married they might destroy, sell, or give away things the victim (or both of them) own, prevent the victim from seeing her family, threaten to hurt family or friends, punish or keep things from the children when angry at the victim. They often treat the children more nicely than usual when angry at their victim, blame the victim for any problems, real or imagined, with the children, and may abuse pets to hurt their primary victim.

They may accuse their victim of having affairs. If a victim is physically or sexually abused, they say she asked for it, deserved it, or liked it. They may threaten to tell their victim’s employer or family that she is a lesbian to get her fired or to have her children taken away from them.

They then deny that their behavior is abusive or minimize it by calling their victim crazy or stupid or telling her that she made it up. One abuser told his wife often: “You just don’t know how bad you are.”

Victims of emotional abuse live in fear and repeatedly alter thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to avoid further abuse. They lose themselves. Emotional abuse, like brain washing, systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, and trust in their own perceptions. Whether abused by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of “guidance, teaching, or advice,” the results remain the same: the victim of the abuse loses all sense of self and lives in confusion. The scars of emotional abuse may be far deeper and more lasting than physical wounds.

The ongoing pattern of abuse follows a cycle:

  1. Tension building: tension increases, breakdown of communication, the victim feels a need to placate the abuser,
  2. Incident: verbal and emotional abuse, anger, blaming, arguing, threats, and intimidation,
  3. Reconciliation: the abuser apologizes, gives excuses, blames the victim, denies the abuse occurred, or says it wasn’t as bad as the victim claims (abusers tend to forget their abuse while victims remember it forever),
  4. Calm: the incident is “forgotten”, no abuse is taking place.

And the cycle begins again.

The long-term effects on victims: Isolation from others, low self-esteem, depression, emotional problems, illness, alcohol or drug use, and withdrawal.

After our presentation, a man talked to me. He said, “I see myself in the traits of abusers.” What did he see?

  1. Abusers tend to have explosive tempers triggered by minor frustrations and arguments when their egos are threatened,
  2. They are possessive and jealous: “I own you. Where were you? Who were you with? What did you do?”
  3. Abusers tend to think highly of themselves: arrogant, entitled, superior, and selfish—everything is always about them, and they always come first.
  4. Abusers have a great capacity for self-deception: they play the victim, always have an excuse and deniability for their acts. They blame others for what goes wrong in their lives. They deny and distort their behavior and cannot give an accurate picture of themselves or of their partner.
  5. They manipulate: they lie always, can be charming in public, and can convince others of their innocence–family, friends, judges, and lawyers get fooled by them everyday—you must look at their behavior over time to see their patterns.

A woman who says she is abused, almost always is.

Emotional abusers learn their behavior, and the man who could see himself in the traits of the abuser spoke for many men who have learned to abuse their power to control others in brutal ways—at home, at work, and in the community.

Abusers don’t change easily or willingly. Author Lundy Bancroft (“Why Does He Do That?) wrote:

There are no shortcuts to change, no magical overnight transformations, no easy ways out. Change is difficult, uncomfortable work. The project is not hopeless—if the man is willing to work hard—but it is complex and painstaking. The challenge for an abused woman is to learn how to tell whether her partner is serious about overcoming his abusiveness.

 The initial impetus to change is always extrinsic rather than self-motivated. The majority of abusive men do not make deep and lasting changes even in a high-quality abuser program

My father taught me to respect all people. I’ve worked as a Secret Service agent, business executive in tough union environments, and a consultant in many anti-human organizations: real men don’t abuse anyone, especially women. Only cowards abuse and bully others.

Good citizens—too often indifferent—need to stand up for our mothers, daughters, sisters, neighbors, co-workers, and friends who are victims and hold abusers accountable for their behavior; they victimize each of us.

Indifference to disrespect is a community’s greatest sin.

RECOMMENDED READING:

“Men Who Hate Women & The women Who Love Them” by Susan Forward, Ph.D.

“Who Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft

Ray Rice and the Abuse of Women

Baltimore Ravens football star, Ray Rice, was recently suspended by the NFL for two games after a video showed him dragging his unconscious girl friend (now his wife) out of an Atlantic City hotel elevator.

Today the Ravens fired Ray Rice and the NFL placed him on indefinite suspension after a new video showed Rice punching and knocking out his girlfriend moments before he dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator.

I wondered how, in the first video, did the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens think she became unconscious and unresponsive?

This is the first of several pieces I wrote over the past decade about abuse.

 

PERSONAL ABUSE: INDIFFERENCE DENIES OUR HUMANITY

 Once you dehumanize somebody, everything else is possible.”

 Taina BienAime

 

 I drove on the near-north side of Chicago on a Friday night many years ago. I was a young agent in the United States Secret Service.

As I turned the corner, I saw a woman cling desperately to a chain-linked fence that surrounded a dark parking lot on a side-street. Her husband or boyfriend beat on her body.

I pulled off the road, got out of my car, and told him to stop. He came at me. The smell of alcohol permeated the cool fall air. He kicked me in the right knee and tore my pants. I stepped away and told him to back up. He came forward, kicked again and missed. I broke his nose.

The police came. The man cursed them. They administered some street-corner justice of their own. I would not smart-off to the Chicago police.

Welcome to the world of personal abuse.

Many years later…

My senses felt assaulted as I listened.

As I recall:

The popular radio personality, his sidekicks, and callers to his show denigrated the agency that helps victims of personal abuse, the agency’s employees, and their dedicated volunteers—most young women. The host was loud, ferocious, and righteous.

As I listened to the anger, the issue they felt so upset about was not important to me. I listened–fascinated by the host’s melt-down. I stopped my work–riveted on his tirade encouraged by his comrades and callers. I felt embarrassed for him. I wondered what personal history it was that generated such anger within him.

He bawled, “They don’t want to help women; they are out for money.” He asked, “Who are those people” as if they were demons; he offered to take a female employee of the agency to lunch at Hooter’s restaurant. He thought his belittlement funny. I thought he sounded like Howard Stern. My wife stopped listening—sick to her stomach. I began to sweat like I would if he talked to my daughters with such hatred and derisiveness.

His sycophants hooted with laughter and righteous self-pity. They said they felt sorry for the husbands of these women—they are man-haters, hate women too, and by God, they’re extreme feminists and zealots. I felt sorry for the wives of those throwbacks.

The host’s bluster and bellows woke the pigs in his audience—poor victims of women all to hear them talk. They cackled as they congratulated him for abusing people they knew nothing of, and they talked about the sexuality of high school girls at fund-raising car washes, of women in the lingerie departments of stores, and how women dressed at the grocery story—women bear responsibility for their own dehumanization according to the wisdom of these atavists. The foolish chatter mocked the wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers of the community.

The talking head seemed to revive the freaks in his audience and for a moment I imagined they felt better about themselves because of his celebrity status. Perhaps they felt he was one of them. A soft-spoken caller disagreed with this man of the people. The personality screamed at the man and hung up. “I bet he wears a toga at home” the courageous host mocked. Disagree and you will pay a price. I thought of what a fascinating sociological and psychological study the callers and their hosts would make.

This moment in talk radio reminded me that sexism in all its destructive forms is alive and well in mainstream America.

A few days later…

My wife and I stopped at the local grocery. A tall, muscular young man ran past us in the parking lot. Outraged and out of control, he screamed profanities at a young woman in a car. He kicked the car’s door, pulled it open, and dragged the terrified woman to the pavement.

Much older than when a Secret Service agent, I wondered what I could do if he hit the defenseless woman. I imagined I would try to distract him and stay away from him.

My wife called 911. The operator asked, “What do you want us to do about it?”

The man got into the car and accelerated, tires squealing, past us. The woman walked away. He circled around and caught up to her, got out of the car, and ordered her to get in and drive away.

Twenty minutes later a police car drove by.

Another story at about the same time…

The August 23, 2007 Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper reported that at least a half-dozen people witnessed a rape in St. Paul, Minnesota. One person tried to help. None of the others intervened or called the police. The lack of intervention in this case reminds of one in Minneapolis 10 years ago when a woman’s face was slashed down to the bone at a bus stop in the busy Uptown area. No one stopped to help or called the police.

The lack of intervention in the St. Paul case calls to mind the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death outside an apartment building in New York City. Although as many as a dozen people saw parts of the attack, no one stepped in or immediately called for help. Who bears responsibility?

As I write this essay, professional football player Michael Vick has pled guilty to committing violence against dogs. People feel understandably outraged—as am I, the owner of two dogs.

But what about the lack of outrage about 40 instances of alleged violence against women by professional football players since 2000, asked sports columnist Mike McFeely in The Forum of Fargo, North Dakota (animal abuse and child, spousal, or elder abuse often go together).

McFeely reported that experts believe violent incidents against women remain vastly underreported: for every assault where police get called, at least three or four go unreported. Estimates range from 960,000 to three million women annually who suffer physical abuse from an intimate partner. Emotional abuse magnifies these numbers beyond imagination.

The shadows of verbal and physical abuse of women and children by men hide a dark and dirty underbelly of every community. St. Paul, Minnesota Police Chief John Harrington said: “What affects one single woman out there…affects families, affects neighborhoods, affects the city, affects all of us.”

 Many of us live in denial. Others shrink–afraid to speak up.

Many lawyers enable abusive men in exchange for money. Reputable companies profit from the dehumanization of women. Some judges choose to be ignorant of the dynamics of abuse. Some celebrities objectify women. All bear a share of responsibility for personal abuse.

Deep down many in all communities still blame the victims of personal abuse—maybe because many men see a little of themselves in the abusers and some women defend their abusers to deny or excuse the abuse they suffer.

Many see the results of abuse to the wives, mothers, daughters, coworkers, and neighbors in the community when others dehumanize them: the clergy, community leaders, the police administration, the doctors and nurses, the school administrators, the mayor and city council, the psychologists and social workers, and the judges and lawyers. Why do so many of them look on silently? Why do you and I?

We compromise our humanity when we look on indifferent to the abuse of those who suffer.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wrote, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.”

How do we avoid indifference? We get involved and serve our communities. We serve the less fortunate. We will find it hard to be indifferent in the presence of people (and/or animals) in need.

To refuse to look this dark behavior in the face—to not confront evil–enables it, and we give up our freedom.

No man has the right to harm the body or spirit of women and children—never, ever.

Women and children are not responsible for men’s violence—never, ever.

We need to say “NO” to men who abuse women and children.