On Father’s Day White Ribbon will launch a new report exploring the important role of fathers and father figures in helping to stop men’s violence against women. The report focuses on the six everyday steps men can take as a positive contribution to preventing this violence.
A number of White Ribbon Ambassadors, including Andrew O’Keefe (Chair of White Ribbon) and Clint Newton (Penrith Panthers), will help raise awareness of the report findings and promote the use of the six steps.
Children and young people are present at up to 85 to 90 per cent of domestic violence incidentsi. The report, Fathers, Fathering and Preventing Violence against Women, seeks to identify the causes of this abuse and identify strategies to address them.
White Ribbon Chairman, Andrew O’Keefe, says the six steps can apply to all men, whether they themselves are a perpetrator of violence, or they just want to help make a difference. This includes acting equally and respectfully towards women and exemplifying these positive behaviors to children and other men.
“The report highlights how men, especially fathers and father-figures, can contribute to reducing and preventing men’s violence against women” says Andrew. “This means more than being non-violent. It involves re-shaping ideas about fathering, and about what it means to be a man, and actively promoting gender equality and respectful relationships with women”.
More than ever before, Australian men are actively involved with their childrenii, thereby putting them in an ideal position to influence attitudes and behaviour. However, the changing role of the father, or father-figure, is shifting the idea of what is a “typical” gender role and challenging men to meet new expectations.
While there is a rise in the ‘involved father’, some men struggle with sharing domestic duties and responsibilities or not being seen as the main ‘bread winner’ because these responsibilities conflict with traditional notions of manhood.
“We have explored the underlying causes of violence against women and considered what will make men start to think deeper about their actions” says author of the report, David Flynn.
“We must also recognise that violence towards women isn’t just physical. It includes moments of derision, sexual harassment and exerting coercive control. Most men might not even realise the impact their actions have in perpetuating the cycle of violence towards women”.
Kevin Maher, Newcastle Community Leader and White Ribbon Ambassador, knows first-hand the impact that domestic violence has on a family, having witnessed violence by his father towards his mother. Kevin welcomes the six steps as a useful way to help all men stop the cycle of violence against women.
“As a child I witnessed my father brutally beating, verbally abusing and belittling my mother so I know the negative impact this can have on children. These steps are a valuable tool for men to see how they might be unknowingly contributing to the cycle of violence towards women, but at the same time offering positive, practical advice on how they can stop it”, says Kevin.
Men don’t have to be part of the problem – but they can be part of the solution. To help combat violence against women, men can access the report, as well as view and share the six steps, on the White Ribbon website. You can also see the White Ribbon Ambassadors talking about their personal experiences of dealing with violence towards women. For more informaton visit: www.whiteribbon.org.au/fathers