Vigilance is Bliss: Becoming A Proactive Bystander


Vigilance is Bliss: Becoming a Proactive Bystander

“Any notion of masculinity that is built on or tolerates the subjugation of women…is no masculinity you should want any part of.”

Domestic Violence Awareness Month calls our attention back to an often-forgotten epidemic; knowing how you yourself can get involved, however, isn’t always so easy. When we think of domestic violence, we often distance ourselves as we do so—there are “those men” who abuse, and “those women” who fall victims to their violence. What we rarely consider, though, is that domestic violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum: we are all part of a culture that enables this violence to occur.

The most powerful step in becoming a proactive bystander is a purely internal one: we must recognize the effect of oppressive and demeaning attitudes against women. Much more than simply intervening in actual violence (which is, in public, a rare occurrence), realizing that words and attitudes matter is the most effective way to begin to change the culture that supports violence against women.

It is up to us to curb sexist jokes and word-choices made in the environment around us; if we don’t, these horrible attitudes will continue unchecked in our society. This seems easy enough, but you may encounter some internal resistance when you go to tell your friend “that’s not funny”: you may hit the edge of your masculine boundary.

In that moment, it will be important to remember that any notion of masculinity that is built on or tolerates the subjugation of women—your sister, your wife, your mother—is no masculinity you should want any part of.

If you still find yourself unable to be “that guy” (as your more insecure friends may so kindly label you), you can choose a subtler route: change the subject, or (more boldly), let the joke fall flat. Sometimes an emotionless stare says more than 1000 words ever could.

Having signed the MEN Challenge pledge, you’re no doubt the kind of man who respects women wholeheartedly; but I bet, if you thought about it, you know guys who aren’t. Changing society isn’t any one of our jobs—it is all of our jobs. The truth is, though, the first steps couldn’t be easier: a quick shutdown, a subtle interjection, or an icy cold stare.

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I pledge not to participate in, approve of, or remain silent about violence.  I pledge to be an active bystander who will speak out about violence against women and girls. I will encourage all men to work together with Center for Victims and use our collective voices and resources to end all forms of violence.

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• In March of 2014, Center for Victims launched the MEN Challenge & Pledge. This initiative was designed to engage more men in CV’s violence prevention programs and speak out about violence against women and girls. Domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault are often referred to as “women’s issues.”  These crimes are not just women’s issues, they are a public health issues and everyone’s business.


Center for Victims believes men need to be a part of the solution and that they do want to be actively involved in violence prevention, but don’t know where to start or what to do. The MEN Challenge & Pledge gives men a place to start. Our goal is to educate and give men and the community the tools and resources necessary to use their voices and their actions to be social change agents.


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1st Annual MEN Challenge Event

Friday March 6, 2015 | Rivers Casino Drum Bar

Center for Victims is hosting the 1st annual MEN Challenge Event in honor and recognition of the 256 men (and counting!) who have signed on to the MEN challenge, committed to this initiative and its value, and who embody CV’s violence prevention efforts in this region. Men who have shown a greater interest and who have worked on specific prevention and/or awareness projects will be highlighted and nominated for the MEN Challenge award. The winner of this award will be announced at the 10th Anniversary of Center for Victims’ Peace It Together Awards Celebration on March 12, 2015 at Pittsburgh’s Grand hall at The Priory.

This exclusive event gives attendees the opportunity to network and engage with other men who are committed to violence prevention and share stories and thoughts on issues surrounding violence in their communities. It will also serve as a way to recruit and introduce new members to the MEN Challenge so that the group can grow and continue to change social norms and make a greater impact in our region.

Register Now