Men Stopping Violence
Organizing Men with MSV’s Community Restoration Program
by Greg Loughlin
Men Stopping Violence (MSV), based in Atlanta, GA is one of the United States longest standing community-based organizations working with men to end male violence against women. MSV began 35 years ago primarily working with men who batter, but always held the core analysis that intervening with individual men is insufficient without simultaneously changing the community and societal norms that provide men with opportunity, permission and justification to commit violence and abuse. MSV’s founding frame is that working to end male violence against women requires organizing men to change the community by supporting gender equality and gender justice.
Based on this analysis, MSV has developed a number of programs and projects that were designed to change the community context; often including the men in the program in these efforts. A prime example is the Community Restoration Program.
In 1987, MSV launched The Community Restoration Program (CRP) which provides a dynamic space for men to become involved in organizing to prevent violence against women and girls. Specifically, CRP members - men who have completed MSV’s 24-week Men’s Education Program (for men who have been abusive to their partners) and men from other social justice organizations - further their education and development by assisting MSV staff in engaging other men as change agents in the community and state-wide. CRP activities include conducting presentations for men’s groups in the community, assisting with Information Meetings where new men learn about the Men’s Education Program, staffing information tables at community events, and engaging men on policy issues.
CRP’s policy work is particularly vibrant and robust. This work is built on a foundation of longstanding relationships with victim advocacy organizations. “We’ve got a solid process in place: Every year women’s advocates from the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault, and other community based organizations, come and educate CRP men about policy issues that matter for women and girls, and how men can advocate in meaningful ways to support their efforts,” says CRP Coordinator Greg Loughlin. “And then – after getting solid about where we (as men) stand and what men can authentically say - CRP teams physically show up as a team at the Capitol to support the work of these sister organizations.” Examples of CRP’s policy work includes founding Men Supporting VAWA to mobilize men to support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2005; volunteering at Stop Violence Against Women Day at the Capitol every year; and opposing anti-immigration policies that hurt refugee and immigrant survivors.
During the 2017 GA Legislative Session, CRP organized men to oppose HB 51 re: Campus Rape Bill. According to Helen Robinson, Director of Advocacy for the YWCA of Greater Atlanta, “Survivors and advocates were united in their opposition to HB 51. It was critical to have men show up in solidarity with our efforts to challenge this misguided legislation.” CRP members spoke with male legislators, testified in a committee hearing, and spoke with the media to voice opposition to HB 51. Eventually – thanks to a broad coalition of advocacy
(CRP men at Stop Violence against Women Day at the Capitol in 2016)
organizations and survivors - the bill was defeated. “CRP wasn’t central, nor should we have been,” says Loughlin. “But we got educated, played our position, and showed up to contribute to safety for women and teens. That matters.” (Note: HB 51 will be back in 2018, and CRP is already actively listening to advocates about how to assist.)
Through this model, MSV’s Community Restoration Program demonstrates a way to continue to support men in their process of change from men who batter to advocates; offer a model of how men can restore safety to the community after the harm they’ve done by their abusive choices; and provide a pathway for ALL men to find their voices in concrete ways to help promote gender respect and gender justice at the community and societal level.
For more information about CRP, please contact Greg Loughlin, Assistant Director, Men Stopping Violence, greg@menstoppingviolence