UCAN White Ribbon Campaign urges men to speak out against domestic violence
Tina and Ike Turner, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, Rihanna and Chris Brown, Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp, and the list goes on. It seems every decade has at least one highly publicized case of domestic violence among celebrities. Despite a spotlight on the abuse, many communities still deny it exists.
Alexandria is not one of those communities. United Communities Advocating Non-Violence (UCAN) is challenging citizens to take a stand against the crime by participating in the White Ribbon Campaign and making a pledge that they will not remain silent.
Throughout the month of March, 2,500 white ribbons will be seen on lapels, hats, jackets and in businesses and organizations that support ending the societal issue of violence against women and children.
"We're striving to be an abuse free community," said UCAN president Chuck Nettestad. "Silence hides violence. We need people to speak up."
The White Ribbon Campaign especially encourages men to speak out and promote positive masculinity. Eighty-five percent of abusers are men. Nettestad said if men tell men it's not acceptable, it might make more of an impact.
"A lot of us men are advocates but we don't speak up," Nettestad said. "We need to hold each other accountable."
Douglas County law enforcement responded to approximately 732 domestic abuse calls in 2012.
Speaking out against violence doesn't mean getting in the middle of a fight or instigating an abuser, Nettestad clarified. He said if you witness the act, call the authorities to handle it properly. Law enforcement and social services are trained to handle domestic abuse situations.
In 1991, the White Ribbon Campaign began with a group of men in Canada in remembrance of a massacre of 14 women in Montreal. Today, the campaign has gone global, reaching 60 countries.
UCAN has been active in the Alexandria area for 13 years. If you would like to know where to get a ribbon or are interested in volunteering, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (320) 763-3968. UCAN is also online at at www.ucanalexandria.com and www.facebook.com/ucaninc.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.