Organizations and Individuals Band Together to Advocate Local Initiative Aimed at Ending Violence Against Women

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Fox Valley Voices of Men, a Wisconsin initiative formed to stop violence against women and girls, is gaining momentum on a local and national scale. Thousands of men and youth have taken the pledge against committing or condoning violence through engagement events, several organizations are lending support and a national recording artist has backed the effort.

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Our message is getting out there and catching on in the community. We are seeing more men get involved – attendance rates are higher at events, pledges keep coming in and people are talking about the initiative.

In an effort to raise awareness and put an end to domestic abuse and sexual violence against females everywhere, hundreds of men and several area organizations have come together in a groundbreaking way to help a Wisconsin initiative gain national momentum and spread its message.

Fox Valley Voices of Men first formed in 2010 and has grown significantly in size and scope over the last two years. It hosts an annual breakfast that invites men of all ages to learn how to stop the trend toward violence, and at the summer 2012 event, over 400 joined in unison to raise their voices in a positive way for women.

Voices of Men has also adopted the White Ribbon Pledge Campaign in which men make a promise not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. Thousands of men and youth in an 18-community region of Wisconsin have taken the pledge to stand up and speak out through various engagement events in the Fox Cities. To help spread the word, a tool was also created to share in print and online – “10 Things Men Can Do to End Violence Against Women.”

Recently expanding its reach even further, Voices of Men teamed up with national recording artists, Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons. A native of Appleton, Wis., Chisel dedicated the group’s record release performance to Voices of Men in a June concert at Lawrence Memorial Chapel and also took the White Ribbon Pledge himself. Nathan Litt, supporter of the initiative and fan of Chisel said, “It was great to see Cory and the band wearing the ribbons. The audience seemed pretty moved when he took the time mid-show to read the pledge and recognize all of the outreach work Voices of Men is doing.”

Coming together as the dream envisioned by four Fox Cities agencies dedicated to women’s well-being, Voices of Men has received initial support and funding from over a dozen area individuals and organizations. The original concept took shape when 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. Josh Puls, Prevention Educator for Reach Counseling Services said, "For so long, sexual and domestic assault has been viewed as a women's issue. This isn't the case. Violence against women is perpetrated mainly by men and it's time for men to stand up and put an end to it." Puls explained that the effort has been successful so far. "Our message is getting out there and catching on in the community. We are seeing more men get involved – attendance rates are higher at events, pledges keep coming in and people are talking about the initiative."

Many new supporters have come forward since Voices of Men formed and continue to emphasize the main message of the initiative. While stressing that domestic or sexual abuse is unacceptable, they are also underscoring the fact that remaining silent can be just as damaging as the actual perpetration.

According to national research, one in every four women will experience domestic violence or some form of sexual assault at some point in her life. The Harbor House shelter program of Appleton experienced its busiest year in 2011 with a 28 percent increase in the amount of people seeking emergency shelter. The nearby Sexual Assault Crisis Center served 186 women.

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

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Lori Van Handel
Willems Marketing
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