A video posed a thought-provoking question at the first Men Against Violence luncheon in Delaware County.
The video told a story of a man who asked a boy how he would feel if his coach told him, in front of his teammates, he was playing like a girl.
The boy was expected to be angry, but he said it would destroy him.
The man asked: If a boy would feel destroyed after being told he plays like a girl, what is he being taught about women?
The question raised eyebrows among the city leaders, law enforcement officials, pastors and doctors seated in the West Wing of First United Methodist Church in Grove on Tuesday, June 20.
Hosts Darrell Mastin and Justin Chizmar, both Edward Jones financial advisers, introduced a handful of speakers at the luncheon organized by volunteers from the Community Crisis Center.
Kenny Wright, the district attorney for Delaware and Ottawa counties, spoke about how common domestic violence is in the area.
Wright said his staff files 150 to 250 domestic violence cases every year.
“We all know someone who has been affected by domestic violence,” Wright said. “We need to be aware of how common it is and do everything we can to stop it.”
Kelsey Samuels, the assistant director of the Community Crisis Center, said Delaware County ranks fourth in Oklahoma counties for homicides by domestic violence.
Samuels believes good men outnumber abusers, but said the good do not always know how to help.
Speakers told the 55 attendees fighting domestic violence can be simple.
For example, if a conversation is degrading toward women, then they should have the courage to object. Or, if they suspect someone is a victim of domestic violence, then they should approach the suspected victim and contact the Community Crisis Center.
Samuels said the luncheon was the first event organized by the Community Crisis Center specific geared towards men.
She hopes the men attending the luncheon will take action in their communities and influence others to do the same.
“It’s going to take some courage,” Wright said. “It’s going to be strange, but it is incumbent upon us to step up and say it’s not right.”
Brett Baker, a semi-retired Delaware County resident, asked attendees to recognize what the Community Crisis Center does for the the two counties.
Baker speaks from personal experience; his daughter was a victim of domestic violence.
“I don’t know how we would’ve gotten through it without the local crisis center,” Baker said.
Baker told the men to get victims in touch with the staff at the Community Crisis Center any way possible.
“Even if they’re not ready, encourage them,” Baker said. “And if they don’t, you contact the crisis center.”
Mastin spoke about Coaching Boys Into Men, a Futures Without Violence program for athletic coaches.
Coaching Boys Into Men provides coaches with materials the coaches can use to teach athletes how to build healthy relationships and prevent domestic abuse. To learn more, persons interested may visit www.CoachesCorner.org.
Bank of Grove, Grand Lake Casino and Shangri-La Resort sponsored the luncheon, and one attendee received a Shangri-La golf package in a drawing for participants.
Deedee Cox, executive director of the Community Crisis Center, had the men repeat aloud in unison the 24-hour hotline, 1-800-400-0883, before the event ended.
For more information about the Community Crisis Center, persons interested may visit www.GetMeOut.org.
11 Things Men Can Do
1. Recognize that sexual assault and domestic violence are every man’s responsibility.
2. Speak up, don’t be a silent bystander.
3. Challenge men who use sexist language and make degrading jokes about women.
4. Think about how our attitudes and language contribute to the problems of men’s abuse of women.
5. Call your local Community Crisis Center or the 24-hour hotline to speak confidentially about your situation.
6. Call 911 if it is an emergency. Domestic violence is not a private matter. It is a crime.
7. Recognize that degrading images of women in the media are linked to violence against women.
8. Be a role model. Talk to and teach boys and young men about healthy relationships. Walk the talk.
9. Seek help if you have a problem being emotionally, verbally or physically abusive.
10. Join other concerned men and women to address gender violence through groups and organizations like the Community Crisis Center.
11. Support anti-violence campaigns in your community.
Help is Available
If you, or someone you love, is a victim of domestic violence, help is available.
In the three-county area, immediate help can be found in Jay, Miami and Vinita.
Delaware county: Community Crisis Center, 454 Krause Street, Jay. 918-253-3939.
Ottawa county: The Fern L. Holland Advocacy Center, 118 A. Street SE, Miami. 918-540-2275.
Craig county: Community Crisis Center, 418 C. East Illinois, Vinita. 918-256-1945.
For more information, persons interested may call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-400-0883 or 918-542-1001 or visit www.GetMeOut.org.