YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee Launches Community Campaign at Belmont University
NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Nearly 400 community, religious and government leaders gathered at the Curb Event Center on Belmont University’s campus to start a very important conversation Wednesday morning. The YWCA is launching a multi-year initiative to engage men to reduce all violence against women and girls in Middle Tennessee. Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn shared the facts: Tennessee ranks third in the nation for the rate of women murdered by men; domestic violence accounts for more than 71 percent of all crimes against women in Tennessee; and in 2012, an act of domestic violence was reported every 21 minutes in Nashville. Both law enforcement leaders committed their support to the program.
“We need to change the conversation from ‘Why doesn’t she leave?’ to ‘Why does society allow this to continue?’” said YWCA board member Peter Macdonald. The retired district judge from Kentucky is spearheading this initiative with fellow board member Tom Negri, Interim Director of Metro Human Relations Commission. Macdonald added, “We need everyone to learn the facts, know the resources and start the conversation. Good men are the missing piece and the key to stopping violence against women.”
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean challenged the audience in a video message to get involved. “As Mayor and as a father of two daughters, I want Nashville to be the safest city in the country for women. And when we become the safest city in the country for women, we will also be the safest city for children – because the two go hand-in-hand. Once you understand the complexities involved, you can start talking about the issue and invite discussions at work and among friends and family. And when you start talking about the problem of domestic violence, you will add to the number of men who will feel compelled to become a part of the solution.”
The YWCA is working with the nationally recognized anti-violence organization, A CALL TO MEN and Co-Founder Tony Porter to engage the greater Nashville community. Outreach efforts will include hosting workshops and trainings for sports organizations, schools, colleges, churches and businesses.
Individuals who want to receive updates on the Engaging Men initiative are urged to text the word “MEN” to the YWCA’s unique number: 31996. Numerous organizations are joining the YWCA as members of a coalition supporting the campaign, including, but not limited to: Conexión Américas, Hands on Nashville, Martha O’Bryan Center, Metro Nashville Police Department, Sexual Assault Center, TBI and You Have the Power.
The Verizon Foundation is partnering with the YWCA on this initiative and presented Macdonald and Negri with a $40,000 check that will help kick off the project. The YWCA’s Engaging Men effort is closely aligned with Verizon’s strategy to engage and empower men to speak up and be part of the solution to end the violence.
For 115 years, the YWCA has helped women, girls and families in Nashville and Middle Tennessee build safer, more self-sufficient lives. We operate the largest domestic violence shelter in Tennessee along with a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week crisis and information line. The YWCA offers free GED® education to men and women and mentors middle school girls in some of Nashville’s toughest neighborhoods. The YWCA exists to educate, encourage and break down barriers that perpetuate racism, violence and hopelessness. For more information, visit www.ywcanashville.com