Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
Oswego, NY — During the month of June, Services to Aid Families (SAF), a Program of OCO, Inc., will be hosting events and awareness activities in recognition of the White Ribbon Campaign. SAF is the domestic violence and rape crisis program for Oswego County and has provided crisis, supportive, advocacy and educational services throughout Oswego County for more than 30 years.
The White Ribbon Campaign began in 1991 in response to the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre in Montreal. During the massacre, 14 women were murdered and an additional 13 were injured, in an effort to fight feminism.
Following this event, a group of Canadian men decided they had a responsibility to urge men to speak out about violence against women in all its forms.
Wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men’s commitment to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women. Today, the White Ribbon Campaign is the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women.
Domestic Violence is one of the most pervasive crimes affecting in country. The Center for Disease Control reports that one in four women will experience abuse in their lifetime and according to the U.S. Department of Justice, female victims equal eighty-four percent of all intimate partner violence whose abuse was perpetrated by their male partners.
“Unlike some other forms of violence in our culture, violence against women has many times been socially acceptable and is deeply rooted within our social structure,” said Meredith Needham, education program manager with Oswego County Opportunities’ SAF program. “Domestic violence is not just a family problem or a women’s issue, it’s a crime. Domestic violence is exclusive and occurs throughout all socio-economic classes, races, among teenagers and within lesbian or gay relationships. Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of abuse. By remaining silent about these things, we are perpetrating the problem and justifying domestic violence in our community”
Needham added that men play a crucial role in changing the perception of domestic violence and eliminating it from our community.
“The good news is that more and more men and boys want to make a difference. Caring men are tired of the sexism that hurts the women around them. Caring men are also concerned with the impact of this violence on the lives of men and boys. Most men are not violent. The majority of men can stop it. A minority of men perpetrate the violence and abuse against women and children in the overwhelming majority of cases of domestic and sexual violence,” said Needham.
SAF’s goals during the White Ribbon Campaign are to raise awareness of the devastating effects of violence against women, address the social norms that perpetuate this violence, emphasize the critical role men play in ending violence against women, and encourage men to become advocates of non-violence with their peers, young men and boys.
“Increasing men’s awareness about male violence against women is how we start,” said Needham.
Throughout the month of June SAF is asking the men of Oswego County to join the campaign by signing The White Ribbon Pledge promising to be part of the solution to stopping male violence against women.
“We encourage men to wear white ribbons and bracelets as a symbol of their voice to denounce violence against women,” said Needham. “Business owners and organizations throughout the community will be making the pledge and white ribbon bracelets will be available at their locations such as: hardware stores, auto repair facilities, car dealerships, sporting goods stores, golf courses, barber shops and restaurants throughout Oswego County. Additionally, during the month of June our staff members will be traveling throughout Oswego County with bracelets and pins to community events and recruiting men to sign the White Ribbon Pledge.”
White ribbons and bracelets are also available through SAF at OCO’s Oswego office in the lower level of the Midtown Plaza.
For more information about how you can get involved, or if you or someone you know is a survivor of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence or stalking please call the Abuse & Assault Hotline at (315) 342-1600.
The hotline is staffed by trained counselors and is available 24 hours a day/seven days a week, with collect calls accepted within Oswego County.
OCO offers more than 50 human service programs that serve more than 30,000 people each year.
Operating in over 80 locations throughout Oswego County, OCO’s workforce has more than 650 employees and 1200 volunteers. A private, non-profit agency, OCO is committed to helping people, supporting communities, changing lives, and improving the quality of life for Oswego County residents. OCO, Inc. is a United Way of Greater Oswego County member agency. For more information, visit OCO’s website at www.oco.org