A domestic-violence emergency shelter in Prince George’s County recently held a series of seminars on male domestic abuse in an attempt to bring to light an oft-ignored segment of abuse victims.
The Family Crisis Center of Prince George’s County held the event — titled “A Band of Brothers” — at Prince George’s Community College in Largo on Saturday, Oct. 7 in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Domestic abuse is not solely a female issue,” said Sophie Ford, the center’s executive director. “At this center, we have served both hetero and same-sex male relationships where the men have been the victims, so we know this is an ongoing problem.
“Here at the center the conversations have pretty much centered around the same thing in that we really need to address the victims and advocate toward prevention,” Ford said. “That is why we put together ‘A Band of Brothers.’”
The free forum was the center’s first such event, with many attendees calling for it to be an annual conference.
“I am a big advocate for this cause, so when I heard about [the center] bringing together a group of men to help bring about awareness and understanding, I knew I had to help out,” said David Smith, community engagement, affairs and multicultural coordinator for the county’s Office of Community Relations.
“In P.G. County, statistics show that men are 100 percent the perpetrators in domestic violence, but those statistics are a little vague,” Smith said. “A lot of men who are victims don’t say anything because of the stereotypes society has put on them to be strong and self-sufficient. That is why it’s important that we get together to talk about these issues and get the word out.”
During one panel segment, titled “HIStory Revealed,” participants heard from a male domestic abuse survivor who vividly shared his personal story, insight and growth.
Attendees were also shown a lengthy skit that stressed why dialogue, or lack thereof, is one of the major contributing factors to domestic violence.
Other topics included how domestic violence affects Black people and why many abused victims often decide to remain quiet.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one in seven men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, a likely conservative figure since many victims are too ashamed to report the abuse.
“The more we talk about domestic violence, the more we make it harder to exist,” Ford said. “We also want to push to address children, because that is the key prevention … teaching them that domestic violence is not the norm and should not be internalized. That is the prevention.”
Continuing its recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the center on Oct. 12 will host a “Purple Glow Night” at the Skate Palace in Temple Hills, aiming to educate adolescents about domestic violence via a fun, family-oriented event.
For more information, go to www.fccpg.org.