"Why don't you just leave him?"
This familiar phrase was discussed during "A Call to Men Conference" Tuesday held by the York County Task Force on Domestic Violence at Penn State York's conference center in Spring Garden Township.
At the conference, men were shown what they can do to help end domestic abuse against women.
The "leave-him" phrase was highlighted by conference speaker Ted Bunch, co-founder of A Call to Men, an anti-domestic violence organization based in New York City.
"Actually, a lot of women do leave; we just don't hear about that," he said. "But the issue is not about her leaving. It's about his violence. We need to tell the victim that, 'It's not your fault. You don't deserve it. He is wrong for doing that to you.'"
Though a woman may leave an abusive relationship, the man is still violent in his interactions with women, Bunch said.
Men need to ask themselves would they want to be the recipients of the behaviors or words they use toward women, Bunch said.
Also, there are men, including sports coaches, who use phrases like "You throw like a girl" or "You're playing like a bunch of women," tying male players' deficiencies with women, Bunch said.
"(Coaches) can motivate their teams without devaluing women and girls," he said.
Call for training: Bunch and the 80-plus conference attendees came up with ways they can train boys and men how to identify, change and challenge behaviors and speech patterns that degrade women or make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Suggestions included recruiting men to participate in community domestic violence awareness activities, training educators and coaches on how to respond when they witness male students using aggressive language or actions towards female students or girlfriends, asking local clergy to speak out or preach against domestic violence, and educating high school and college students about the issue.
The York County Task Force will determine how to set up a work group that will develop a strategic plan that would put suggestions into action, said Rick Azzaro, chief services officer for the YWCA's Access-York and Victim Assistance Center.
The YW is a member of the task force.
David Keene, 22, of Manchester Township, said the conference showed him how much women are concerned about their safety as they do daily activities.
"And I learned about the man code, when men (determine) a woman's value based on (her) looks," he said. "That's not appropriate."
Scott Bowser, 29, and Rick Gross, 34, of Penn State York's Human Development and Family Studies group, said they plan to talk to their family members about using proper behavior toward women.
"I'm going to make sure my 13-year-old daughter does know the appropriate behaviors others should have towards her," Gross said. "And I'm going to make sure my 15-year-old son is using appropriate behaviors and understands how women should be treated."
-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.