2016 WHITE RIBBON DAY EVENT
On Thursday, March 3, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker declared the 9th Annual White Ribbon Day Massachusetts,
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Ambassadors agree to wear the ribbon on White Ribbon Day and recruit 5 to 10 male friends and colleagues to join them in taking the WRD pledge.
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Featured Ambassador Interview
Student Support Specialist Haverhill Community Violence Coalition
“Some young guys think that all men treat women badly. So when you have men standing up and saying that this is not okay, it makes a difference”. -
Having worked a Sexual Assault Advocate for the YWCA of Greater Lawrence, in the past, Andy Polanco remains connected to the White Ribbon campaign and its mission to engage men in putting an end to violence against women. Polanco has been a member of the White Ribbon campaign since its inception. Since working with survivors, he has branched out to become a part of the Haverhill Community Violence Prevention Coalition and gone on to work at Haverhill High School as a Drop-out Prevention and Student Support Specialist where he gets a chance to work directly with young men.
Polanco stresses the importance of working with young men in particular because of the attitudes that they sometimes come to adopt. “The earlier we can engage young men around this issue, the more they will bring it into their everyday lives and talk openly about it.” In order to engage more men in the prevention of violence against women, Polanco encourages men to discuss the problem openly with others. “We have to show young men especially that these things are okay to talk about. So many men say that they never thought this was something that they could openly discuss before.” Polanco suggests that men better educate themselves on these issues so that they can have a better understanding of the impact and begin making a contribution to change. “When I bring up how women are dying every day from domestic violence, these guys I’m talking to are shocked. They never comprehended before that something so awful could be happening so much.”
Polanco believes that prominent male figures, in particular, need to become more involved to reduce stigma. According to Polanco, men taking ownership of this issue is incredibly important to confronting it. “Women have been doing this work for years, but guys are fairly new to it. By standing up and confronting violence against women, men can take responsibility and really make a difference by confronting it.”
For many men, the idea of a loved one being hurt or harmed is unfathomable. “I think the best method to get guys to realize how important ending violence against women is, is to personalizing it. When they make a comment about a woman, I tell them to imagine someone saying that or doing that to their sister, their mother, their daughter. By doing that, they see how hurtful it really is.” He encourages all men to do this when they hear others make a sexist joke, thereby reinforcing the importance of the issue.
While Polanco is encouraged by some change he has seen, he cautions against comfort. “One thing that I have learned is that we still have a long way to go. This isn’t something that is going to change overnight.” However, he is optimistic that this type of work can make a profound difference. “Something that we have to realize is that this isn’t just a campaign, it’s a lifestyle. We have to be patient and keep encouraging men, keep speaking up, keep putting these ideas out there.” Getting this message into the media, on TV, on the radio, better allows us to spread the message of ending men’s violence against women. Since these are the media sources that so many people tune into, they can also help provide the solution.