“As men we stand here today committed to do our part to end that violence,” City Manager Bernie Lynch said at the city 6th annual White Ribbon Day, sponsored by the City Manager’s Domestic Violence Task Force.
Thursday afternoon, 50 men populated the marble stairs of the City Hall lobby, wearing white ribbons pinned to their lapels, pledging to end domestic violence and sexual assault against women by taking leadership roles in creating an environment of respect and equality, while acting as role models for their peers and younger men, teens and boys.
It is up to the fathers and father figures to show the right path to younger men, State Rep. Kevin Murphy said.
“It starts with you, it stops with him,” he said. “Accept your role as a man in promoting gender equality.”
“We fathers do not have all the answers, what we do have a start and we should start today,” Murphy added.
Nationally, 1.3 million women are the victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year.
It is not only a crime and health issue, but carries an economic impact. The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year in the U.S., which includes $4.1 billion for direct medical and mental health services.
City Councilor Joe Mendonca said since most domestic violence crimes (85%) are perpetuated by men “it is only appropriate that men take the lead in making it taboo. One victim of domestic violence is one too many.”
Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian said he represents 54 cities and towns and Lowell was the only one holding a white ribbon event. He praised the buy-in the city has achieved in building a coalition of elected officials and leaders from the public and private sectors in combating the issue.
“It’s never okay to hit a partner; it’s never okay to stalk a partner; it’s never okay demean or diminish a partner,” said Koutoujian. “Partners are to be respected and treated as equals.”
Both Lynch and Koutoujian lauded the work of the Lowell Police Department in fighting domestic violence under the leadership of Superintendent Ken Lavallee, who will retire at the end of the month.
Lavallee promised he will be standing on the marble stairs again next year taking the pledge and that the Lowell Police “will continue to carry on the mission to end domestic violence in Lowell no matter who the superintendent is.”
Then, in unison, 50 strong the men recited the pledge: “From this day forward I promise to be part of the solution to ending violence against women . . . ”
Those who need help can call the Domestic Violence hotline at (800) 799-7233.