Initiative Aimed at Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Reaches Record Crowd During Eye-Opening Presentation

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Setting a new record for attendance, over 520 adult and young men in Wisconsin participated in an annual event hosted by Fox Valley Voices of Men that aims to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. In its fourth year, the organization reached its largest audience to date and featured a theater group from Chicago that acted out different scenarios to show the many different forms violence and abuse can take.

Fox Valley Voices of Men 2013 Breakfast
We reached a large spectrum of people at this year’s Voices of Men Breakfast, and it was pretty exciting to hit a record number for attendance. This means our message is being shared and really resonating in our community.

Featuring the theme ‘It’s Time to Act,’ the fourth annual Fox Valley Voices of Men Breakfast had a record-high turnout with over 520 in attendance on June 11.

The event focused on the Wisconsin-based organization’s mission to encourage men and boys to step up, speak out and take action to end violence against women and girls, but did so through a unique approach.

This year, the Chicago-based theater group, SST, appeared and acted out a variety of scenarios that exemplified the many ways in which men abuse women through sexism, objectification, stalking and more. After each vignette was performed, the audience had a chance to pause and participate in facilitated group discussions with reaction to what they just saw.

Fox Valley Voices of Men volunteer and member Dave Willems explained that seeing these presentations was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved. “With teens to older adults in the audience, we saw many real-life examples of violence from different perspectives and how quickly it can perpetuate.” Willems also said, “Our organization’s focus has always been on the root of the problem. We want to put an end to the disrespectful attitudes, behaviors and comments that these situations depicted. We want people to understand that this type of conduct devalues girls and women and leads to hurt and abuse.”

Since 2010, thousands of men have come to the annual breakfasts in Appleton, Wis., and taken the pledge to “not commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women and girls.” As in years past, the pledge was read aloud at the event with sponsor companies/organization representatives leading and the 500-plus audience members reciting along.

The organization aims to educate about violence against women starting in the teenage years being that this is such an impressionable age. The 2013 breakfast was successful in reaching this target group with area high school football players to DECA Club members in attendance.

“We reached a large spectrum of people at this year’s Voices of Men Breakfast, and it was pretty exciting to hit a record number for attendance,” Willems said. “This means our message is being shared and really resonating in our community.”

The original concept for Voices of Men took shape when four Fox Valley organizations – Harbor House Domestic Abuse Services, the Sexual Assault Crisis Center, Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services and Reach Counseling Services – joined forces and pressed for men to step up in speaking out against women’s violence.

Voices of Men, a 2011 recipient of the Voices of Courage Award from the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, has led training sessions for athletic coaches, recruited men to mentor young boys and publicly responded to community crises involving violence toward women. It has also organized workplace education sessions and supported agency fundraising and awareness events related to the topic. To learn more, visit http://www.voicesofmen.com.

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Nathan Litt
Fox Valley Voices of Men
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Lori Van Handel

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