Safe Families: Men’s group will tackle domestic violence
By Jackie R. Broach
The term “G-Man” will get a modern meaning this month when the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office teams up with the Family Justice Center to roll out a public awareness and fundraising campaign.
Sheriff Lane Cribb unveiled his plans for Georgetown Men Endorsing Nonviolence (G-MEN) this week and will officially launch the group on May 19 with a family barbecue from noon to 2 p.m. at the sheriff’s office on North Fraser Street. The event is free and will give men an opportunity to learn more about the program and hopefully sign up.
Men who belong to G-MEN will be asked to donate $100 a year, which will go to the Family Justice Center, and speak out against domestic violence.
“I’ve noticed it’s always been mostly women stepping up, trying to curb domestic violence and I think it’s time we get men to step up and help out,” Cribb said. There were more than 400 incidents of spousal abuse reported to the sheriff’s office last year, according to Cribb. That puts the county in the top 20 counties for the number of domestic violence incidents reported to law enforcement, according to the center. Additionally, South Carolina is ranked seventh in the nation for the number of women killed by men.
But it’s not just spouses and domestic partners who suffer.
“There are so many kids abused we don’t hear about until it’s too late,” Cribb said. “I want people to realize it does go on and the pictures you see of abused children are real.”
Cribb hopes to get 500 men to sign up to be part of the group, he said.
The Family Justice Center, which opened in Georgetown last year, offers refuge and other sources of help to the victims of domestic violence — women and men who often have young children affected by their situation — by offering a central location where agencies that offer victim services can come together.
“We have for some time been talking about the importance of engaging men in our work to end domestic violence,” said Vicki Bourus, the center’s executive director. There’s no question the work has traditionally been done by women, she added.
“Many involved are survivors or have experienced it in their families, or they know a survivor,” Bourus said. “I think it has taken on this identification as women’s work, when in reality we know it’s extremely important to involve the entire community.”
While most men are not abusers and don’t condone domestic violence, those who are abusers “give everybody a bad name,” Bourus said. The center has been looking for ways to rally caring men in the community around the issue of domestic violence.
Bourus said she couldn’t be happier with the sheriff’s idea for G-MEN.
“He’s been such an advocate and such a strong supporter of the Family Justice Center,” she said of Cribb. “There’s a classic example of a man — a manly man — who wants to help and is engaged. He birthed this idea of a group committed to assisting the center financially, but also possibly in other ways.”
Members of the group will be encouraged to help the cause by talking to people about domestic violence, mentoring young men and encouraging healthy, nonviolent ways to resolve issues.
“There are a lot of ways a group of men like this who are engaged in a real way — G-MEN who are out to create law and order, and to reduce violence and crime — can make a difference in this community,” Bourus said.
“We feel that men often do listen to other men. Even though I feel the Family Justice Center has really been welcomed in the Georgetown County community, I feel like adding those male voices to the choir is really going to be powerful.”