This week, the people in our office have watched the growth of the #YesAllWomen grow in popularity. If you read some of the tweets under this hashtag, you’ll find universal experiences women face, daily, in our society; street harassment, verbal abuse, on-line harassment, threats, and violence. It is a reminder that girls and women are given a complex, often contradictory, set of “rules” that are suppose to keep us safe from sexualized or gender based harm. And, even with all these “rules” the rates of gender based violence is staggering. Studies show that one in three women and one in six men will experience an event that fits the legal definition of sexual assault or rape during a life time. Many of those experiences will come during childhood or adolescence.
This hashtag grew out of the need to have a response to the extremely disturbing views/writings/videos from the young man who killed/harmed so many people, male and female, in Southern California last weekend. In the aftermath of this horrifying event, our agency (the Rape Crisis Center of Robeson County) responded to clients whose reactions were generally “I’m already afraid of most men, now I feel like I can never leave my home.” We found ourselves, in these conversations, discussing the phenomena that not all men, in fact only a small minority of men, will inflict violence against women, but that there are enough that do, and they commit enough violent acts, that nearly every woman I know has experienced some form of harassment or violence.
Having worked with the Rape Crisis Center of Robeson County for well over 20 years now, I can say that along with hearing utterly horrible stories of inexcusable violence, I’ve also had the privilege to get to know many truly good men. Men who not only would never harass a woman on the street or threaten her on-line because she disagreed with him, but men who actively speak up against sexualized or gender based violence. I have had the opportunity to work with men who want to create a community, here in Robeson County, where all children, men, and women live free from violence.
During the month of June, the board of directors for our agency will be contacting men in our community to ask them to join in the efforts to make Robeson County a safe community for all. They will be conducting our “100 Good Men” campaign. Please consider joining with us in creating a safer community for all of us. Be one of the Good Men in our county. If you would like more information in how you can be a part of this effort, please contact the Rape Crisis Center: 739-6278, firstname.lastname@example.org and we are on facebook (look for the red umbrella).
The Rape Crisis Center of Robeson County is a United Way of Robeson County agency.
Margaret Crites is the executive director of the Rape Crisis Center of Robeson County.