Men are being challenged to speak up and stand up to help end domestic violence and human trafficking in our community. On Tuesday, Collier County commissioners will proclaim March 9 Gentle’men Against Domestic Violence Day.
“I have been hurt by men since I was a kid, so it is hard trusting them,” said one survivor of domestic violence, whose identity is being protected. She has had a life full of abuse, which for a long time shaped her view of men: “All men are the same; they are going to get you and hurt you.”
But this survivor now has new hope. The Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Naples came up with Gentle’men Against Domestic Violence in 2008. It started with just five men, but now more than 250 men in our community are standing up to end domestic violence.
“It makes me happy that they are standing up for us, because I have boys, and I need to raise them as gentlemen,” she said.
“What I try to do, and the other men we work with, is to set an example to the community as well as to young people,” said Ron Ciesla, a member of the group.
Ciesla and fellow member John Jordan say the effort is more than words—it’s about looking deep within themselves to bring change.
“Teach young men and boys what it means to be a gentlemen,” Jordan said. But what does being a gentleman really mean?
“Being a gentleman is not a sign of weakness,” Ciesla said. “It is, in fact, a sign of strength.”
“We need to accept women as true, equal partners,” Jordan said. “Not only in life, but in relationships.”
Jordan has dug into the troubling statistics: 90% of all domestic violence is perpetrated by men. One of the other battles is showing other men how real the issues of domestic violence and human trafficking really are.
“We must speak up and stand up to other men on this issue as well,” Jordan said. “The silence of men on this issue is really a form of consent.”
And for a victim of violence, knowing that these men will help her own boys grow up to be gentlemen means the world to her.
“After all he has seen, I don’t want him to do what he has seen,” she said. “I want him to lead by example, and I want him to be a gentlemen and treat every woman right.”