White Ribbon Day: Hundreds of Boston-area men condemn violence against women

Hundreds of men gather at the State House last year for the annual White Ribbon Day. Photo credit: Flickr
Hundreds of men gather at the State House last year for the annual White Ribbon Day. Photo credit: Flickr

On the same day a Wayland man was sentenced to life in prison for killing his teenage girlfriend, throngs of men gathered at the State House to boycott violence against women.

As part of the Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Campaign, American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts CEO Jarrett Barrios and Suffolk County DA Dan Conley, co-chairs of the campaign, called on over 100 men and boys to wear a white ribbon and pledge to help end domestic violence.

Men who stay silent on the issue of violence against women are “almost condoning the violence by being quiet,” according to Jim Heffernan, coordinator of Men Against Abuse at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Sometimes men react to other men who are involved in this issue by saying, ‘Aren’t you condoning a belief that all men are violent?’” said Heffernan, who attended yesterday’s event at the State House. “But the majority of men in their hearts are against violence against women. They just don’t have an outlet to state their opinion, and I think it’s a positive impact on society to have men be able to say that, and have other men say, ‘Yes, I agree,’” he said.

Domestic violence among young people is often minimized as immature behavior, said Toni Troop, a spokeswoman for Jane Doe Inc., who pointed to the murder of Wayland teen Lauren Astley.

“We can’t just look at this (murder) and think horror and shock and then move on. The truth is that efforts such as the White Ribbon Day are what give us hope that we will be able to prevent these tragedies in the future,” Troop said.

One in three adolescents in the United States is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. One in 10 high school students has been hit or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend, and one quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse, according to loveisrespect.org – a national organization aimed at getting young people to end domestic violence.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
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