Calling on all men to become domestic violence warriors
Over the past 18 years, the Southcentral Foundation Family Wellness Warriors Initiative has been working on reversing some disturbing numbers. The foundation says in the Anchorage area alone, one in three women have already been a victim of domestic violence.
Tuesday afternoon the foundation hosted their annual Domestic Violence Awareness event at the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center. The drum beats were loud and clear inside, drawing attention to an issue where victims often suffer in silence.
Since the beginning of the initiative, The Southcentral Foundation has helped families break the cycle of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and neglect. This year it's challenging more men to be a part of the movement.
"We need our men to stand up as warriors and lead the way, and say I'm going to protect my family as my people did back in the days of old," said Polly Andrews, an advocate for the foundation.
Some men are getting the message and stepping up to join the Family Wellness Warriors Initiative. Eagle River resident Jocko Younger added his support by painting his palm and joining others who stamped their hands on the tree canvas which was hung on the wall.
"I am a warrior, my hands are for protecting," he said. "I think men have been a big part of the problem in the past as far as domestic violence goes, and I think that we need to be able to look at ourselves and go you know what I'm either part of the problem or part of the solution."
Longtime Warrior Marcel Bergeron has been encouraging other men to break their silence which he says does take some courage, but most importantly is a sign of strength. It's something he went through himself.
"I think one of the biggest steps for me was realizing some of the unhealthy patterns in my life, and being able to share my story helped me recognize some of the unhealthy patterns and take those steps to change in a healthy way," said Bergeron.
Instead of using palms to do harm, all hands are on deck to help the foundation meet its goal to end domestic violence in this generation. The foundation says 18 years ago, they would see only 3 percent participation by males at their event. Today, that number is nearly 50 percent.
The Southcentral Foundation will host other domestic violence fairs at the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center every Friday for the rest of the month.