Beth Stelson, Lutheran Settlement House’s manager of community programs and evaluation, believes engaging men in a non-shaming space and talking about what healthy relationships look like is an important step to end domestic violence.
The Lutheran Settlement House and the Temple University Police Department are calling upon all members of the community, especially men, to stand up and talk about domestic violence.
“We have an issue of domestic violence at the university, that’s not specific to Temple, but it’s actually a national crisis,” said Joe Garcia, who has worked for Temple Police for 28 years. “It involves domestic abuse, but also sexual assault as a form of domestic violence.”
Garcia, Temple Police’s deputy chief of administration and a lifelong North Philadelphia resident, has spearheaded the partnership between the Temple Police and Lutheran Settlement House’s Men Can (Prevent Family Violence) Campaign, a movement that started about four years ago to raise awareness and start conversations about domestic violence among men in Philadelphia.
“There has to be a shift in the paradigm of domestic abuse,” Garcia said. “We need to empower our women and help our men, because these abusers don’t wake up on a Tuesday and feel good about beating their women, it’s more than that.”
Stelson said Men Can is encouraging discussion among men in all communities of Philadelphia to stand up against domestic violence.
“For a long time it’s been formally attached to the women’s movement, which has made huge strides in providing services for survivors and making our community safer, but all members of the community need to be embracing and discussing it,” she said.
Omar T. Woodard, an adjunct professor in the Fox School of Business, is trying to help build the movement. Utilizing social media campaigns and an upcoming rally on Oct. 5, he hopes to gather a lot of support.
“I think that the issue of domestic violence is on all of us. It’s not a women’s issue or a men’s issue, this is a human issue,” Woodard said, noting that the city received about 100,000 domestic violence calls in 2013.
Garcia, who received an award this year from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the majority of domestic abuse incidents go unreported.
“70 percent of domestic violences are underreported,” Garcia said. “The victim feels unsupported, so you have domestic and sexual abuse but the victim doesn’t want to come talk to the police.”
Garcia said he encourages more students to report instances of domestic or intimate partner abuse.
Supported by TUPD, Men Can is currently performing a social media photo challenge that asks men to post pictures with a #MenCan2016 template that can be found on their website.
They will also host the Men Can Rally Against Domestic Violence on Oct. 5 at 15th Street and JFK Boulevard, which will include live music and guest speakers.
“Domestic violence is an epidemic,” Woodard said, “in our communities and our nation, but certainly in Philadelphia. Whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you’re gay or you’re straight, it doesn’t matter. Its an issue that impacts all of us, and specifically families.”
Henry Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.