Only a few days have passed since we rang in the new year, and already our holiday cheer has begun to fade. Nothing seems as bright or as beautiful as it once did draped in the lights of the Christmas season. The gifts that we spent hours shopping for are now just a long list of items on a credit card statement. The decorations that we delightfully hung from our tree are now a chore as we remove them from the branches. The tamales and cookies that we enthusiastically devoured are now a few extra pounds around our waist, and, as the final remnants of the holiday season are packed in a box, the guilt continues to set in.
Perhaps, that is why we begin each year with the same routine of reflecting on how we are going to improve ourselves in the coming year and then resolving to do a whole list of things that too often results in no change at all. This year, I challenge men to break free from this routine and the typical resolutions of weight loss and financial gain in order to bring about true change not just in themselves but in our communities as well. I invite men to reflect on the issue of domestic violence and resolve to be a part of the solution rather than the problem.
Reflect – According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 90% of people who commit violent physical assault are men, and men also perpetrate 95% of all serious domestic violence. In 2012, 114 women were killed due to domestic violence in the state of Texas, which was an increase from 102 the year before. Three of those 114 women were from Austin, but to their families, these three women (Kirstin Louise Anderson, Cassandra Clark, and Adriana Rugina) are not a number. They are a set of memories and missed opportunities. They were real women – mothers, sisters, aunts, and friends, who were killed by men who once professed their love for them.
Resolve – The statistics for 2013 have not yet been calculated; however, when they are released there will be more women on that list like Kristen, Cassandra and Adriana. These lists MUST end, and we, as men, must do our part to bring the statistics down until the number of deaths related to domestic violence can be reported as zero.
I would like to invite all men to take the first step in ending men’s violence in our communities by making a personal pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and children. If men of all ages make this pledge and commit to upholding it, then we can make a difference in reducing the number of women who are killed each year because of violence. So, I challenge men to make this pledge your resolution not just for 2014 but for each day of your life. This is one resolution that is too important to give up on after just one week. It requires hard work and constant dedication, but the rewards are great. Failure to uphold the resolution, on the other hand, can cost a woman her life; therefore, turn to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) for support if you find the challenge to difficult to undertake yourself. Check-out Bro Models or Step Up to learn about ways that you can actively work in your community to end men’s violence.
Too often, the good will towards men that we express during the holiday season is also packed up with the Christmas decorations. This year, extend that good will throughout the year. Don’t let one of the things you’re guilty about next year be that you spent more time yelling at your kids than playing with them, or that you stood idly by as a friend ridiculed his girlfriend, or that you said nothing while legislators cut funding for domestic violence centers. Instead, do your part – make the pledge, commit to following it in 2014, and help make our communities one without violence.