When dealing with issues around male violence against women, how do we get messages out to men and boys? The Ending Violence Association of BC is putting part of their focus on having role models speak out, partnering with the BC Lions for the “Be More Than a Bystander” Campaign.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, EVA BC is a provincial umbrella organization that works on behalf of 240 front line programs. They provide support, information on complex cases, training and resource development, and more. The Bystander campaign features BC Lions football players using their status to speak out against domestic violence.
Although some feminists might be leery of men being spokespeople on this issue, it should be noted the campaign is guided by an advisory group of women experts on violence against women.
I did an email interview with EVA BC’s Executive Director Tracy Porteous to learn more about how she thinks the campaign is doing in its second year now.
What gave you the idea to partner with the BC Lions for More Than a Bystander?
I, and many others in the field of violence against women, had long been thinking we needed more men to speak up. I thought we needed sports stars because they were icons and role models to men and boys so we approached the BC Lions…From that first meeting on, the Lions were in and we built this groundbreaking, never-been-done-as-big-anywhere-in-the-world initiative!
The power of this campaign is that we are engaging men in positive ways, not as potential abusers, but as bystanders who see these attitudes every day and who can act as allies, agents for positive change, and who have the power to speak up to prevent violence and to change attitudes. We know that the vast majority of men do not use violence against women and so imagine the difference that can be made if the vast majority of men who don’t commit violence began to be more than bystanders and speak up to the minority that do!
We give bystanders a multitude of options – always with an emphasis on personal safety – in hopes that people will be more likely to respond rather than be silent or passive in the face of abusive or violent situations. Something we want people to take from this campaign is that being a bystander means different things depending on the situation, on whether the perpetrator is known to you or is a stranger, etc. And so we provide ideas something for how to respond in these very different types of situations. Read more