Media Contact
Rich Batten
Colorado Department of Human Services
303.866.3808
Maggie Spain
The Bawmann Group
303.320.7790

September 28, 2009

How Fathers Can Truly Make A Difference During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 5.3 million U.S. women are victimized by an intimate partner each year. These women can be mothers, wives or often the teenage victims of dating violence. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Colorado Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative is encouraging fathers to do their part to end this horrible statistic. By taking a stand against domestic violence now and teaching their children to do the same as they begin their own relationships, fathers will have a positive impact for years to come.

“National statistics show that more than half of all American men have reason to believe someone close to them has been involved in an abusive situation,” said Rich Batten, fatherhood and family specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. “It is our hope that Domestic Violence Awareness Month will motivate Colorado dads to become more proactive about educating their children on the dangers of violent relationships.”

Colorado Men Against Domestic Violence (CMADV), a campaign launched by the Colorado Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative last year, is one way for fathers to positively impact the future of families and women in abusive relationships. This campaign encourages men to join others from across the State and sign a pledge of commitment to take a visible stand against domestic violence. The CMADV pledge is a promise to speak out about domestic violence and intervene in any violent circumstances that men see happening around them. Visit www.coloradomenagainstdv.com to sign the online pledge.

Another way fathers can put an end to domestic violence is by teaching their children, and especially their sons, the importance of treating all women with respect. This is a lesson that becomes even more important as young men begin to date. The Family Violence Prevention Fund lists the following coaching tips for fathers to use to help their sons become good boyfriends, husbands and fathers:

Teach Early. It’s never too soon to talk to a child about violence. Let him know how you think he should express his anger and frustration – and what is out of bounds. Talk with him about what it means to be fair, share and treat others with respect.

Be there. If it comes down to one thing you can do, this is it. Just being with boys is crucial. The time doesn’t have to be spent in activities. Boys will probably not say this directly – but they want a male presence around them, even if few words are exchanged.
Listen. Hear what he has to say. Listen to how he and his friends talk about girls. Ask him if he’s ever seen abusive behavior in his friends. Is he worried about any of his friends who are being hurt in their relationships? Are any of his friends hurting anyone else?

Tell Him How. Teach him ways to express his anger without using violence. When he gets mad, tell him he can walk it out, talk it out or take a time out. Let him know he can always come to you if he feels like things are getting out of hand. Try to give him examples of what you might say or do in situations that could turn violent.

Bring it up. A kid will never approach you and ask for guidance on how to treat women. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need it. Try watching TV with him or listening to his music. If you see or hear things that depict violence against women, tell him what you think about it. Never hesitate to let him know you don’t approve of sports figures that demean women, or jokes, video games and song lyrics that do the same. And when it comes time for dating, be sure he knows that treating girls with respect is important.

Be a Role Model. Fathers, coaches and any man who spends time with boys or teens will have the greatest impact when they “walk the walk.” They will learn what respect means by observing how you treat other people. So make respect a permanent way of dealing with people – when you’re driving in traffic, talking with customer service reps, in restaurants with waiters and with your family around the dinner table. He’s watching what you say and do and takes his cues from you, both good and bad. Be aware of how you express your anger. Let him know how you define a healthy relationship and always treat women and girls in a way that your son can admire.

Teach Often. Your job isn't done once you get the first talk out of the way. Help him work through problems in relationships as they arise. Let him know he can come back and talk to you again anytime. Use every opportunity to reinforce the message that violence has no place in a relationship.

If you believe someone you know is in a domestic violence situation and needs immediate assistance, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or visit www.ndvh.org.

In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a $10 million federal grant over five years to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting. Colorado is one of two locations nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to receive this federal community access grant. The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative distributes more than $1.1 million in community awards to State, community and faith based organizations to assist in providing direct services to fathers and families. Awards of up to $50,000 are distributed per program per fiscal year. For more information on a fatherhood program in your community, please visit www.coloradodads.com.