Time for men to confront domestic, sexual violence

Far too often, we read the news of tragic incidents involving sexual assault or domestic violence against women and children. The reality is, even more frequently these stories are left untold by victims who are still in shock or petrified by their abuser.

In recent years, the Dorchester community, like so many cities and towns across the Commonwealth, has been shaken by tragic domestic violence homicides and other crimes. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 2,564 assaults were reported to rape crisis centers across Massachusetts in 2010. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey also found that in 2010, nearly one in four women living in Massachusetts reported experiencing violence that caused them to be afraid or concerned for their safety. That’s one in four of our mothers, sisters, daughters, partners, or female friends.

These state-wide statistics are heartbreaking. And the data are clear—the tragedy of domestic violence knows no particular socio-economic, gender or sexual orientation, racial, or ethnic boundaries.

As lieutenant governor, I chair the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual and Domestic Violence. In that role, I work closely with Jane Doe Inc. and other advocacy organizations to build a coalition of supportive networks in regions across the state. The goal is to support victims and raise awareness, so we prevent sexual and domestic violence towards women, children, and men.

Massachusetts White Ribbon Day is an annual initiative led by Jane Doe Inc. that reaches communities across the state to encourage men to come together to take a pledge to be a part of the solution in ending violence against women. On March 1, I stood with Governor Patrick and many other men from our Administration, from other elected offices, and from communities across the Commonwealth, to raise awareness and end domestic and sexual violence. For the fifth year, we collectively pledged to not commit or condone violence against women. This pledge connects us to an international movement to engage men and boys to create a society that fosters and values respect, equality and safety women and children everywhere.

As a father, husband, son, brother, and as your lieutenant governor, I take responsibility to publicly and privately renounce violence against women and children. There is strength in numbers, but that strength comes from each individual’s commitment. Together, as men, we must take a stand and be part of the solution to end the violence.

For more information on the White Ribbon Day campaign, please visit whiteribbonday.janedoe.org. If you have experienced domestic or sexual violence, there is help. Please visit janedoe.org/find_help/search for a listing of local domestic violence and rape crisis center information.

Timothy P. Murray is lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.