Domestic violence statistics are often shocking. One organization says that these statistics won’t change until men get involved. Now, a Native American advocacy organization and leader are getting people involved in the group A Call To Men.
Ted Bunch, with A Call To Men, recently gave a presentation to about two hundred people at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola.
“If walk over to a guy who is hitting his wife, and I tell him to stop, he'll say that I should mind my own business,” Bunch explains. “If I press the issue, he'll say that the problem is between him and his wife, and that I am breaking the 'man' rules. I'm out of line, not him.”
This rule comes from what the speakers for A Call to Men describe as the 'man box,' societal beliefs about how men are supposed to think and act around women.
“We've got to look at how we have been taught,” Bunch goes on, “and keep the wonderful things there are about being men and what we are passing down to our boys. But we've got to challenge some of those things that are not so good.”
Bunch's words resonate with Louisa Baca from Tewa Women United, a Native American advocacy organization in Espanola. “There is a culture of violence within many communities,” she says. “That causes a lot of hardships, a lot of heartaches.”
Baca is helping to spread A Call To Men's message. She rallied men in Espanola to attend the presentation and hear what Bunch had to say. And once they did, they had lots of second thoughts.
Martin Cata of Espanola says he was brought up in the 'man box.' “I was brought up like that around the community, around other men. Slowly, I came to believe I have got to have more respect. So, I’m more respectful and polite, more kind.”
Phillip Silva is from Santa Clara Pueblo. He says men need to stop teaching young men to degrade women. “We need to help them respect them. And that is where all the love is going to come from, compassion. We need to bring that back into our lives.”
And men talking to men about domestic violence works according to Carol White. She’s a Social Worker in Rio Rancho. “It takes a man to talk to a man about this issue,” White says, “because I could say something, and people will say that it's grea. A man can say the exact same thing and get a standing ovation. That’s where we need to find these men to use their power for good.”
Charlie Riddick is the outreach coordinator for the Eight Northern Indian Pueblo Council's Peace Keepers program. He says some men are too fearful to make any changes in their behavior or attitudes. “We do have men who are afraid to step up to the plate,” he says. “They might be called wimp or something like that. But, they need to step up to the plate and be that man they are supposed to be.”
Gary Talachy, Lieutenant Governor of the Nambe Pueblo, says it takes more than just talk. “We men need to start leading by example,” Lt. Governor Talachy says. “As a tribal leader that’s my goal. Hopefully, this continues and we get more support from the tribal leaders."
After attending the A Call To Men session, Zachary Vigil of Espanola says he'll behave differently. “I will definitely treat my girlfriend better. After seeing that, I will treat her fairly.”
Louise Baca is looking forward to more changes like this in Espanola. Throughout the year, Tewa Women United is convening community meetings to keep raising awareness about men getting involved in the fight against domestic violence. She hopes the efforts there will become models for other communities.