Members of a statewide collaborative, the Delaware Men's Education Network, are taking action this month to show their support for survivors of sexual assault and the nationwide #MeToo movement. Inspired by the courageous survivors who shared their personal stories on various social media platforms over the past several months, Delaware MEN members are writing and posting photos of themselves holding posters with the hashtag #IWill with those steps they are promising to take in response to what they've read and learned.
"Delaware MEN members wanted to not only raise awareness about sexual violence, but also to show that everyone in our society has a place in preventing it," said Sue Ryan, executive director of the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which facilitates Delaware MEN. "It is not solely the responsibility of survivors to raise awareness about sexual violence. Violence in our community impacts everyone. We all have a role to play to change the conditions in society that allow violence and abuse to occur."
After a training event this winter at which passionate coalition members discussed the impact of #MeToo and how it connected with their mission to prevent sexual assault, the group committed to stand up and pledge what they will do in response. In conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, supporters of the #IWill campaign began posting their personal images starting April 1 across a variety of social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Partner organizations, fellow advocates, and nonprofits will also host unique outreach events throughout Delaware during April to recognize the #IWill pledge and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Events will include a proclamation signing by Gov. John Carney Tuesday, April 10, at the Carvel Building in Wilmington.
"Delaware MEN works together to understand the connections between sexual violence, and society's beliefs and expectations around gender. We address aspects of unhealthy masculinity which hurt everyone of any gender in our community, while promoting healthy masculinity," says Lauren Camphausen, director of prevention at the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "Research shows that this not only helps to prevent sexual violence but also helps men to live healthy, full lives."
Delaware MEN is a collaboration of campus, military and community-based organizations working to develop and sustain best practices for engaging men in sexual and domestic violence prevention. Delaware MEN provides training and technical assistance to partner organizations to aid their efforts, as well as provide a collaborative space for discussion and support of partner organization work. Current Delaware MEN member organizations include; University of Delaware, Wilmington University, Delaware State University, Delaware National Guard – Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Team, Dover Air Force Base, CAMP Rehoboth, Shue-Medill Middle School and Youth Empowerment Program.
To learn about Delaware MEN and see the #IWill pledges, go to www.delawaremen.org or find them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. To learn about the work of the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, go to www.dcadv.org.