TALK New York: Engaging Men and Advancing Sports Culture to End Violence
On the evening of December 8, 2015 the Joyful Heart Foundation hosted our first TALK event in New York. An important part of our work at Joyful Heart is to raise visibility, encourage conversation, deepen understanding, inspire action and help break the deep social stigma surrounding domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Through our TALK series, we gather members of our community to encourage conversation and discussion about these issues.
We are grateful to our board member Sukey Novogratz and her husband Mike, for hosting the event in their home. Guests were welcomed into the event with the NO MORE photo booth, where they displayed messages of support and hope using the NO MORE symbol. They enjoyed bites and refreshments as they mingled with board members, supporters, advocates, current and former NFL players and representatives from major sports leagues.
In his welcoming remarks, Mike Novogratz explained how these issues have affected his family’s life and how he was grateful to be discussing them. He noted that according to research conducted by the Avon Foundation for Women, while 60 percent of Americans say they know a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, 57 percent have never actually discussed either issue with their friends. And, when it comes to parents, a staggering 73 percent of them said they had never had a conversation about domestic violence or sexual assault with their children under the age of 18. After Mike stressed the importance of having these conversations, he introduced Joyful Heart's CEO, Maile Zambuto.
Maile spoke about Joyful Heart’s story and work, and started our exploration of the role of men and sports culture in ending violence against women and children and shaping the hearts and minds of our sons to live with respect. She turned the conversation over tothe first speaker of the evening, Ted Bunch, co-founder of A CALL TO MEN. Ted is widely recognized for his expertise in educating men in the effort to create a healthier and more respectful manhood and has conducted trainings at universities throughout the country, as well as for the National Football League and the Department of Defense. Ted reflected on the ways men treat other men, women and the different ways we respond to our sons and daughters.
"We've dealth with intervention and risk reduction. We have to go upstream to prevention."
Ted then introduced Joyful Heart Board member, and New York Football Giants Linebacker, Mark Herzlich. Mark spoke about his role as a man both on and off the field, and his experience as a partner to his wife and fellow Joyful Heart board member, Danielle Herzlich, who is also a survivor.
"Manhood is not about anything physical or tangible. It’s about encouraging those around you to be their whole—to be everything they can be."
He noted that the majority of men are not violent, but they are often silent about the violence and abuse that other men perpetrate. He spoke to why it’s crucial that we engage men in the movement to address, prevent and—one day—end sexual violence, domestic violence and child abuse. He stressed that it’s going to take all of us working together to solve this.
After Mark spoke, Maile opened up the room for a guided discussion. Topics ranged from violence portrayed on television, to what professional sports leagues and parents can do to respond and prevent violence, to how to make support services for survivors better and more accessible. Niels Schuurmans, Executive Vice President of Viacom Velocity, spoke about the impact of the media as an institution in addressing these issues. Dwight Hollier, Vice President of Wellness & Clinical Services with the NFL shared his perspective as a former athlete and member of professional sports league, as did representatives from the NBA and NHL.
At the close of the program, Mike Novogratz stood up and invited the men in the room to sign a pledge to take action to end violence against women and children. Other guests were encouraged to sign the poster as well, and write down something they will commit doing that serves a reminder to continue this conversation in their lives.