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Group hopes to start conversation about domestic violence among men

Mike Bizon and Darryl Wilburn met Oct. 14 with Shasta Steele, vice president of the Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence Board of Directors and manager of Amy’s Closet, to discuss the group Men Against Domestic Violence.

Mike Bizon and Darryl Wilburn met Oct. 14 with Shasta Steele, vice president of the Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence Board of Directors and manager of Amy’s Closet, to discuss the group Men Against Domestic Violence.

ANNIE BLACKBURN
Staff Writer

Darryl Wilburn may not be native to Lincoln County, but it’s here that he wants a crucial conversation to start.
The native Charlottean and one of the co-founders of the organization Men against Domestic Violence, Wilburn was inspired by a story of domestic violence.
“The idea was in the making long before all the publicity we’ve had on domestic violence lately,” Wilburn said. “A couple of years ago, I attended a men’s breakfast. The speaker was a retired police officer and he was speaking on domestic violence and he kept saying he was responsible for his sister’s death.”
According to Wilburn, the police officer told the group that his sister died because of a domestic assault at the hands of her boyfriend.
“He said he allowed a man to come into his family and didn’t let him know how he felt about domestic violence,” Wilburn said. “As a family, they took him for granted and that when his sister went home with him, he was a different person. He didn’t make him aware of the consequences.”
The tragedy that he learned about during the breakfast, as well as the recent rash of high-profile domestic violence cases, caused Wilburn to think about how men respond to domestic violence as it pertains to other men.
“That provoked the thought in me about men not talking to other men about where we stand on domestic violence,” Wilburn said. “I’m a Navy veteran and all my time on the ship, I think about some of the things that were said (about women) and I never said anything. I’m retired from the fire department and I worked in a barber shop and some of the things that were said, just wow, I can’t believe I never said anything.”
Wilburn and his friend Mike Bizon previously founded the Facebook group, “I Honor My Wife.” The group is designed to encourage men to stand up for, respect and honor their wives. After talking about the male role when it comes to preventing and recognizing domestic violence, they started to lay the groundwork for Men against Domestic Violence. With help from Amy’s House board member and Amy’s Closet manager Shasta Steele, Wilburn and Bizon met together on Tuesday and established a mission statement and resolutions that they not only want to adhere to as men and husbands, but as a community.
“It’s time for men to have the conversation,” Wilburn said.
“And these other men may not be involved in domestic abuse, but we need to let them know where we stand and hopefully we can create a legion of men that condone the conversation and stand up and say, ‘enough is enough.’”
Over 4,400 lives are lost every year to domestic violence and reports of male victims are steadily on the rise. With recent scandals in the NFL involving Baltimore Ravens athlete Ray Rice and Carolina Panthers athlete Greg Hardy, the problem of domestic assault is being thrust to the forefront in typically male dominated entertainment. The scope of domestic assault is also expanding. No longer is physical abuse the sole target when it comes to awareness. Sexual abuse between partners, financial abuse and psychological abuse are all being brought to light.
“As men, we can get together and talk sports,” Wilburn said. “We can talk about the best team, the Super Bowl or the World Series. It’s time for us to interject other statistics. It’s time for us to include domestic violence in our everyday conversation. I started speaking more to women about it and a friend of mine told me that she was a victim of psychological abuse. See, (abuse) changed tactics. It isn’t just putting your hands on someone. She endured many years of this until she finally said, ‘enough.’ She said that she came home from work after she put him out and she realized that there was a peace in her home that she’d never known.”
The Men against Domestic Violence mission statement, objective and resolution focuses on domestic peace.
Wilburn said the group is seeking to start a movement, rather than just another organization.
“Men, for some reason, and I don’t know why, but we don’t rally around a cause,” Wilburn said. “Prostate cancer, you don’t see men rallying or marching. What men will do, men sort of rally around each other. They like to have buddies. I need one man in there saying, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about domestic violence?’ We need men speaking out against domestic violence, spreading the word but also opening the conversation. It puts focus on personal relationships. I want men to be in a position to say, ‘Hey, I don’t condone that.’ We want to be able to have them say, ‘I need help,’ or be able to say, ‘I can get you help.’”
The group’s Facebook page is in its beginning stages but Wilburn hopes to have a brochure available as well as a copy of the resolution for any man willing to read it and take it to heart.
“We want men to request materials,” Wilburn said.
“We want men to have a copy of the resolutions. We want them to sign them and another man to witness them signing it and we want them to hang them up in their office or in their home as a constant reminder that I am a part of a movement that says I am opposed to domestic violence. The main focus is to get men talking about it in their families, expressing their views to any new man that comes into the family. We want that man to know where we stand on domestic violence.”
For more information on Men against Domestic Violence, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Men-Against-Domestic-Violence.

Image courtesy of Jaclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News

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