Group makes domestic violence a men's issue

"Oak Harbor counselor Jerome Rosen said it's odd and unfortunate that domestic and sexual violence is considered a women's issue.After all, the vast majority of the violence is perpetrated by men. Any cultural movement to end domestic and sexual violence would probably have to involve men. And lots of them.To start making it a men's issue, Rosen has partnered with retired Seattle assistant police chief Harv Ferguson - a Clinton resident - to create the island's first anti-violence men's group. It's called Whidbey Island Men for Non Violence.We want to reach out and get other men involved, as well as educate men and boys about the problems, he said. It's about breaking the conspiracy of silence that stop men from speaking out against violence.Rosen said he has counseled many men who have been violent to women. While he treats the individuals, he also sees domestic and sexual violence as a social problem that men are not dealing with. He says there's an unspoken rule that men and boys don't speak out against the violence.So he decided to do something about it.Rosen met Ferguson during an advocacy training program put on by Citizens Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. In addition to being the assistant police chief, Ferguson was also involved in a task force on domestic violence and had dealt with perpetrators for almost his entire career.The two men found they had similar ideas and decided to start a men's group. Their mission statements say they are an organization of men committed to educating other men about domestic violence and sexual assault, and to support their efforts to stop violence against women and children on Whidbey Island.Valerie Stafford, CADA executive director, said she was thrilled.This is the first time I've worked with a group of men really intend to accomplish something, she said. They could be effective. ... Men seem less defensive when they hear the message coming from other men.At the same time, she cautioned them that it'll be a slow start.Rosen said he and Ferguson have been working on starting up the group and getting a membership for the last couple of months. The fledgling group's first action, Rosen said, was to help CADA bring nationally renowned speaker Jackson Katz to Whidbey Island this week. Katz is one of the nation's leading speakers on violence prevention, focusing on how cultural ideas about masculinity precipitate violence.In the future, Rosen said the group will give presentations at island service organizations to get more people involved. They also plan to give educational presentations geared to boys at schools and youth groups. The police keep stats on where domestic abuse occurs, he said. We plan to target some of those areas. Reach out to neighborhood organizations.You can reach staff reporter Jessie Stensland at or call 675-6611. "

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