White Ribbon Campaign affirms a student’s moral code

Over the week of Nov. 16-20, various Oakland University organizations, including the Residence Halls and University Student Apartments, will be holding events to raise awareness for the White Ribbon Campaign, an organization dedicated to ending male violence against women.

When I first heard about the White Ribbon Campaign and their personal pledge, I knew that it was a sentiment that I could fully support.

“A pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.”

While I hadn’t heard of the WRC until last week, that 15-word statement is something that I have followed, and will continue to follow, until the day I die. My brother Eddie and I were lucky enough to have grown up in an abuse-free home.

From a very early age, my dad instilled in both of us a love and respect for women. Every woman in my life means a great deal to me, from my mom and aunts to all of my female friends. Without them, I would only be half the man I am today.

Some young men, however, are not as fortunate and haven’t had those positive influences in their lives, and have witnessed or been the victim of domestic violence.

Studies from organizations like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence have shown that boys who witness domestic violence at a young age are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults. The cycle of violence needs to end. I believe that education, from an early age, can help to curb the epidemic.

Positive male role models are necessary for the culture to change, which is why I respect and commend the actions of those involved with WRC. Their message has spread to 55 countries all over the world, educating boys and men about respecting women and ending violence against them.

While the WRC should be praised for their efforts, they can only do so much when it comes to stopping domestic violence. Many women don’t report incidents of violence for various reasons: fear of retaliation by their partners, a false sense of hope that “things will change,” a feeling of shame or lost pride, or even more outrageous, a feeling of responsibility for the abuse.

Another contributing factor to domestic violence in our culture is when it appears in the tabloids. Even being in the public spotlight doesn’t keep individuals from committing domestic violence. Look at Ike Turner, Mike Tyson and Jason Kidd: being famous hasn’t stopped these men from mentally and physically attacking their significant others.

The February 2009 case involving Chris Brown and Rihanna, however, is a shocking sign that age is becoming less of a factor when it comes to domestic violence. How could a 20-year-old man, with a budding career and such a promising life in front of him perform such heinous violence against a woman?

While it was later discovered that Brown’s mother had been abused by his stepfather, I still can’t understand Brown’s actions ­— there is no excuse. The pictures of Rihanna’s bruised and swollen face are ones that should stick with and haunt Brown for the rest of his life.

My parents got a divorce when I was 18 and entering my senior year of high school. I was sad, angry, confused — all the emotions that someone can feel when a situation like that happens. Until I moved out in September, I lived with just my mom in Sterling Heights for the last 4 years. My dad eventually moved to Arizona for a new job, and my mom moved to Alpena. Even with the distances, their influences haven’t faded.

Both of my parents helped me to become the man I am today. I will never be able to repay them for what they have given me, but I can continue to live by the principles that they taught me.

For more information about the White Ribbon Campaign, go to http://www.whiteribbon.ca or contact their national office at 416-920-6684.