TALK LA: Exploring Men's Role in Ending Violence
"I have learned is that violence and abuse is everywhere and has deep and lasting impact. And yet these are issues that—for the most part—we don’t talk about. What that means for survivors [is that] they are trapped in silence and feel alone and ashamed. And what that means for those who are violent and abusive [is that] they are not held accountable. We want to change that. That is what tonight is all about. We want to encourage conversation, deepen our understanding and inspire action."
- Jenny Belushi, Los Angeles Committee Member
On November 20th, we were joined by more than 75 members of our Los Angeles community, including dedicated members of our LA Committee and Board of Directors and event hosts Mark Alexander, Anthony Armstrong, Jason Berkin, Mark Chayet, Adam Cummings, Peter Hermann, Steve LePore, Rev. Al Miles, Jimmy Miller, Ted Miracco, Tom Nunan, Mark Rowan, Troy Vincent and Timothy White for a special evening dedicated to talking about the issues of violence and abuse.
Inspired by Joyful Heart's series of TALK STORY discussions in Hawai‘i, TALK LA started with a call out to men, and our particular roles as men—as parents, teachers, coaches, role models—in ending this violence and raising the next generation of men to live with respect.
Jenny and Jim Belushi graciously opened up their beautiful home for this evening of conversation. Guests arrived to enjoy cocktails and appetizers and gathered to take photos, including of their #NOMORE _______ signs for the What's Your #NOMORE? initiative. (If you haven't already printed your sign and shared your photo, you can do so here.)
We then gathered in the living room, where guests heard from Joyful Heart founding board member Peter Hermann about our Healing & Wellness programs, our Policy & Advocacy work, our Education & Awareness programs like NO MORE, and why we gathered for TALK LA:
"On the topic of men, I’ll ask: why men? Why an evening about men in this movement? Because the tag line for the NO MORE campaign is Together we can end sexual assault and domestic violence. “Together” means everybody. Most simply put, men have their role to play in this effort. And we’re here to look at what that role has been, is, and will be."
Peter then introduced Ted Bunch, Co-Founder of A CALL TO MEN, to lead an interactive presentation on the solicialization of men that supports, tolerates and even encourages violence against women. A CALL TO MEN which is a leading national violence prevention organization providing training and education for men, boys and communities to promote a more healthy and respectful definition of manhood. Ted himself was formerly the director of the country's largest program for domestic violence offenders in the country, and is now a leader in the movement to end violence and a prolific speaker and trainer on male accountability.
Ted bagan by citing the startling statistics in California:
- The state is home to over 2 million women who are survivors of rape;
- 489,025 cases of child abuse were reported to the state's Department of Child Welfare Services;
- Approximately 40% of California women experience physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes.
He noted that while the majority of violence committed against women and children is committed by men, the vast majority of men are not violent. However, they are almost always silent. He called on the men in the room to break this silence. He offered that masculinity need not be viewed as negative or suppressed, but rather expressed respectfully and peacefully. He challenged us to examine our attitudes, beliefs and even language that encourage violence and anger and the ideas that women are objects, are inferior to or are the property of men. And he urged us to allow boys to have and express a full range of emotions.
Maile Zambuto, CEO of the Joyful Heart Foundation, then facilitated an open discussion on Ted's presentation. The discussion on how men can help create this shift to healthy masculinity in their own spheres of their families, friendships, workplaces and community groups. As our final activity, the men in the room stepped up to sign their name to a pledge of six concrete actions to promte respectful interactions and help create a culture shift towards a healthier masculinity.
Everyone in the room was then given their own individual pledge card, where they wrote down an additional personal action. Joyful Heart will be mailing these cards as a reminder of their commitment.