New Online Space Gives Men the Opportunity to Gain Healthy Coping Skills During COVID
Every crisis has its dangers and opportunities; the same is true with Covid-19. While it has many dangers, it also provides opportunities that we can learn from.
In response to this pandemic, Men Stopping Violence created The Huddle, an online space that gives men the opportunity to share, support one another, and gain healthy coping skills – all with the ultimate intent of keeping women and children safe.
As part of this initiative, I was charged with calling and inviting former students from our 24-week intervention classes, to participate in the Huddles. Up until the point of making the calls, my experience at Men Stopping Violence had shown me that many men bring an initial resistance to domestic violence intervention classes. For them, 24 weeks seems like a lifetime and cannot go by fast enough. There are also men who, after having completed the class, return to the same behaviors that brought them to the class in the first place.
With this awareness, I assumed there would be some men who didn’t want to hear from us again. Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect from the men I was preparing to call.
While I approached the task with a degree of uncertainty, I was intent on being open, receptive, and nonjudgmental. It wasn’t long before my uncertainty was replaced with exuberance.
The first man I called, who had completed the class two years ago, was not only receptive to the concept of The Huddle, but was also aware of the uptick in domestic violence – in large part, due to an increased awareness that he’d gained from MSV’s intervention classes.
During the call, he recounted his positive experiences in the class and expressed his excitement about the possibility of being on a Huddle call with former classmates. We talked for several minutes, sharing our mutual passion for the work of Men Stopping Violence. As we ended the call, we both agreed that all men could benefit from our intervention classes. To my delight, he promised to invite other men to The Huddle.
I hung up from the call with a renewed enthusiasm to connect with every student who had ever walked through Men Stopping Violence’s doors.
From this one call, the vision of Men Stopping Violence crystalized in my heart and mind. With increased clarity, I understood that we must always approach our work with the belief that men can change. I was also reminded that our assumptions must be challenged by actions that take us out of our comfort zone.
Most of all, I realized that, for Men Stopping Violence, the act of holding men accountable is always a loving act – not a punitive one. Indeed, it is the gift that keeps giving.
Spencer Murray is the Prevention Coordinator at Men Stopping Violence in Decatur, Georgia, where he educates communities and engages them to take action to end violence against women.