For too long, the conversation on abuse and trafficking has focused on victims and women’s empowerment, which are undeniably crucial. But what about the other half of the equation? Men and boys have a powerful role to play in dismantling these harmful systems and creating a world free from violence.

Statistics paint a concerning picture. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime [National Coalition Against Domestic Violence statistic:].  Similarly, according to the Human Trafficking Hotline, men make up a significant portion of both identified trafficking victims and traffickers [].

These numbers highlight a critical point: ending abuse and trafficking requires a societal shift, and men and boys are essential allies in this fight.

Shifting the Narrative: From Silence to Support

Dr. Jackson Katz, an expert on gender violence prevention, emphasizes the importance of engaging men: “Men are not the enemy, but they can’t be bystanders either. They need to be upstanders, using their voices and their actions to challenge the sexism that fuels violence against women” [Jackson Katz quote, source: Mentors in Violence Prevention MVP Conference 2016 keynote speech].

This “upstander” role goes beyond intervention at the moment. It involves dismantling the very root causes of violence – harmful stereotypes about masculinity and rigid gender roles.

Building a Culture of Respect: How Can Men and Boys Get Involved?

Here are some ways men and boys can become active participants in creating a safer world:

  • Challenge Sexist Jokes and Behavior: Call out jokes that demean women or normalize violence.
  • Promote Healthy Relationships: Model respectful communication and boundaries in your own relationships.
  • Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about abuse and trafficking and educate your peers about healthy behavior and bystander intervention.
  • Support Organizations Fighting Abuse: Volunteer your time or donate to organizations such as Radiate Coalition, that work to prevent abuse and provide whole person after-care and support to survivors.

Remember, you are not alone.  Many organizations are dedicated to engaging men and boys in this critical work. 

By becoming active bystanders and dismantling harmful stereotypes, men and boys can become powerful allies in the fight to end abuse and trafficking.  Let’s work together to create a culture of respect and safety for everyone.