Local men learn ways to address domestic violence issues

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COLUMBIA - True North hosted its Men As Allies event on Thursday where community men were invited to learn more about what they can do to address domestic violence, even if they are neither victims nor abusers.

True North Executive Director Elizabeth Herrera said the shelter has hosted events similar to Men As Allies since 2008, and hopes it occurs annually.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, women are more likely than men to be the targets of domestic violence. Herrera said  True North serves anybody who experiences relationship or interpersonal violence.

“Most domestic violence issues, men are the perpetrator, and women are the victim," Herrera said. "That does not mean we don’t have male victims, we do and we absolutely serve them.” 

The Hotline also reports around 10 percent of American men have or will experience some form of domestic violence by a partner, including rape, physical violence or stalking.

Men As Allies is invite-only, and Herrera said the organization chose local men who have a history of community involvement and who support True North. One attendee is Randy Coil, President and CEO of Coil Construction, a company that began in Columbia in 1975. Coil said he is going to educate others on the seriousness of the issue.

“I think there’s a lot of men who are just not aware of how much actually is going on,” Coil said.

At this event, men will learn about statistics regarding domestic violence as well as what they can do in everyday life to address it. Herrera said even if men are not directly committing violence against women, little things can contribute to change the general attitude towards victims and survivors of violence.  

“How we talk about women, how we see women and how we engage women are things that men can really do,” Herrera said.

She also encourages everyone in the community to volunteer or donate to True North to show support for all survivors, regardless of gender.

“Violence is violence and it’s not acceptable,” Herrera said.

The 2017 Men As Allies event is hosted at the Country Club of Missouri. In addition to educational events like this, True North also works as an advocacy center, provides counseling and a hotline as well as an emergency shelter for adults and children. Last year, True North said it served over 800 people through its services.