Taking a Stand

| June 15, 2011
Menswork Executive Director Rus Funk held his son, Kiernan, as he spoke at the event.

Menswork Executive Director Rus Funk held his son, Kiernan, as he spoke at the event.

Across the world, the third Sunday in June is a day to celebrate the beloved father figures in our lives.

But in honor of Father’s Day, MensWork – an organization dedicated to eliminating domestic violence – took to the streets to support the women they hold dear to their hearts.

About 40 locals gathered at Jefferson Square Park on June 13 for the Dads’ Rally Against Dating Violence to sign the Mens­Work pledge against domestic violence and listen to guest speakers, including Police Chief Robert White and Bellarmine University men’s basketball coach Scotty Davenport.

“It’s important as fathers that we talk to the young men in our household and community and that we are a voice for the women in our community,” White told the crowd.

White’s call for men to advocate women’s safety was an underlying theme throughout the event. The current legislation in Kentucky on domestic violence orders and emergency protective orders also became a common topic of discussion.

Darlene Thomas, executive director of the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, educated the crowd on the Kentucky state law.

“Dating violence doesn’t discriminate,” Thomas said. “It’s about an intimate relationship in which power is established and one person uses one form of power over another that puts a person in fear and intimidation for their safety. But in the state of Kentucky, unless you live together, have a child in common or are married, you do not qualify for a protective order.”

Shawn Gardner, president and founder of 2 Not 1: Fatherhood and Families, shares the stage with his daughters Malia and Sydney.

Shawn Gardner, president and founder of 2 Not 1: Fatherhood and Families, shares the stage with his daughters Malia and Sydney.

Kentucky is one of six states that hold such standards for obtaining an order, while 44 states and the District of Columbia allow any individual in a potentially dangerous intimate relationship to seek protection from their partner.

State Rep. Joni Jenkins encouraged the crowd to write to state senators about the Dating Violence Bill.

“You have the support among the Kentucky House,” Jenkins said. “We need help in the Senate. We sent (the bill) down to the Senate twice and they have not acted on it, and they have not had a hearing on it.”

According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, women age 20 to 24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence and experience the highest rate of sexual assault. Yet, according to the current legislation, several of these women would not qualify for a protective order despite their increased likelihood of becoming victims of dating violence.

While Kentucky awaits the passing of the Dating Violence Bill, there are still efforts within the community to keep women safe from harm. MensWork is the only community-based organization of its kind in Kentucky, Indiana and the surrounding states. It focuses on educating, engaging and organizing men by challenging them to become leaders in the community and to increase awareness about domestic violence.

Catherine Palmer Ball spoke about her experience as an activist against women’s violence.

Catherine Palmer Ball spoke about her experience as an activist against women’s violence.

The organization works closely with DeSales High School, YMCA of Southern Indiana, Kentucky Country Day and local churches. MensWork also established LIFTED, the Louisville InterFaith Taskforce to Eliminate Domestic Violence, which brings the faith and service communities together in an effort to combat domestic violence while addressing issues of spirituality.

Last year, CONNECT, a nonprofit organization in New York City, hosted the first-ever Father’s Day Pledge. The MensWork rally in Louisville was only the second of its kind in the country.

“We’re not going to educate our way out of this,” said Rus Funk, executive director of MensWork. “There are a lot of people who are educated but don’t stop their behavior because of that. We want to help mobilize young men to be leaders in this world.”

For information on MensWork and the 2011 Dads’ Rally, visit www.mensworkinc.com or contact Rus Funk at 502.494.9044.

Domestic Violence Facts

  • 1 in 5 teenagers experience physical or sexual abuse by a dating partner.
  • Half of all teen women know someone who is being abused by their dating partner.
  • The chance of sexual assault for female college freshmen increases from 1 in 5 to 1 in 3 in their first year of college.
  • 33 percent of teen victims of dating violence will never tell anyone about the assault.
  • 81 percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue.

photos by ASHLEY ANDERSON | Voice-Tribune

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Ashley Anderson

Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).

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  1. Miles says:

    Very touching story.