Engaging Men as Allies in Domestic Violence Prevention
Many programs build on education about the negative impacts of violent behavior to also encourage fathers to be role models for their children, families, and community. Some fatherhood programs use alumni networks or ambassador programs in which former participants go out into the community to emphasize the importance of non-violence. The Engaging Men and Youth Program, a project of the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, notes that men are willing to get involved as role models and allies with women to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault.
Five Qualities of an Ally
- An ally listens. Pay attention to, believe in, and respect what the person who needs help says.
- An ally is present. Back the person up—by being a friend, by keeping your word, and by letting the person know when you can’t be there.
- An ally opens doors. Help the person explore available options, resources, and support. Provide useful information and share your resources and connections.
- An ally takes chances. Sometimes we don’t reach out because we fear we will make a mistake or say the wrong thing. An ally is bold. When they mess up, they fix it and try again. It’s always important to take a chance and reach out.
- An ally gets support. When you are helping someone, remember to take care of yourself. Don’t do it all alone. Above all, an ally is a peacemaker.
The Ally Pledge
- I promise not to be violent to my friends, my family, my lover, or to anyone else.
- I promise to be an ally to myself, my sisters, my brothers, and to anyone under attack.
- I promise to stand up for people and build my community.
A Futures Without Violence toolkit has a section on “What Men and Boys Can Do” that includes resources and activities on “Taking Action as a Bystander,” “Serving as a Role Model and Mentor,” and “Working with Women as an Ally.”
Men Stopping Violence offers a brochure in English and Spanish―A Conversation—Men: What You Can Say and Do to Make a Difference―with tips on taking action as a bystander:
SHE SEEMS AFRAID OF HIM, can’t finish a sentence around him, has visible bruises. He is your friend, your brother, a co-worker. You think you should do something.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Say what you see or experience. “I experience you…”
- Interrupting her.
- Criticizing her family.
- Yelling at and intimidating her.
Say how it affects you and how you feel.
- I’m surprised you’d use that language.
- That frightens and concerns me.
- I feel less respect for you.
Say what you think and want.
- You can’t assault her and still claim to love or respect her.
- I want you to stop interrupting her and hear what she has to say.
- Even if you feel challenged by what she does, you still have no right to hit or yell at her.
If his behavior seems part of a pattern, say so.
If his behavior is a crime, label it.
 Creighton, A., & Kivel, P. (1995). Young men’s work. Oakland, CA: Oakland Men’s Project.