“The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy is when he’s told to ‘be a man,’” said Coach and former NFL Player Joe Ehrmann in the documentary The Mask You Live In.
According to the documentary, when boys are growing up, they often learn in order to be respected – to be a man – there also needs to be violence.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time for all communities to learn about domestic violence and to do their part to help prevent it. The Ohio Domestic Violence Network defines domestic abuse when a person uses a pattern of coercive and assaultive behaviors to obtain power and control over another person.
Many experts agree that prevention-focused programs are needed to educate youth about healthy relationships. In particular, men can play a critical role in preventing domestic violence by serving as positive role models to young boys.
For that reason, the Ohio Domestic Violence Network in partnership with the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, created the Ohio Men’s Action Network (OH-MAN) in 2012. OH-MAN focuses on preventing gender-based violence through a unique approach of initiating a conversation amongst men to stop the violence within each other and their communities.
OH-MAN provides a structure for those who are engaging men to support each other, learn from each other, and exchange resources. In return, networks are created for men and men’s organizations to collectively support one another and exchange resources.
With funding support from The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio, OH-MAN has held several trainings and workshops. During these trainings, participants are able to strengthen their skills to become community leaders and learn how to effectively challenge attitudes and behaviors that support all forms of violence. Participants are also able to define violence, recognize behaviors that silently support violence, as well as understand the necessary qualities for anti-violence leadership within their social networks.
“The majority of men are not violent and want to prevent violence in their communities,” said India Harris-Jones, prevention coordinator, Ohio Domestic Violence Network. “The best way to engage men in these communities is by having the majority speak to the minority that are violent and help them understand other ways to work out their problems.”
The trainings have impacted many participants, further encouraging them to take a stand on domestic violence. Clark Echols, a participant in one of the OH-MAN Columbus trainings, was so inspired that he started an OH-MAN branch in Cincinnati to start engaging men in his own community. In June 2015, he showed the documentary, The Mask You Live In, to a crowd of more than 100 individuals, who all shared interest in joining the organization to help prevent domestic violence in their community.
To learn more about OH-MAN, visit www.mensactionnetwork.com.