Partners in Preventing Violence
A Special Advertorial Section
Violence is a public health issue that impacts all members of the community—both directly and indirectly. Studies show that exposure to any form of violence can have a negative impact on health, which is why, in addition to meeting the immediate, short, and long term needs of victims of violence, Partners HealthCare and its hospitals are committed to violence prevention in all of the communities they serve.
Standing up against violence is a positive, healthy choice that helps individuals, families, and communities to thrive. One initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital, called Men Against Abuse, is embracing this commitment by raising awareness of the role that men have in preventing violence.
Men Against Abuse was founded by MGH’s Domestic Violence Working Group. Participants involved in Men Against Abuse take a pledge to never commit, condone, or remain silent about men’s violence against women. They commit to respecting, listening to, and sharing power with the women in their lives. While the group started out relatively small, it has grown considerably. Each member of the group is responsible for getting two of his coworkers to commit to the cause.
Jim Heffernan, Chief Financial Officer of Massachusetts General Physician’s Organization, was one of the founding members of the Men Against Abuse group and has successfully recruited many of its current members. Jim grew up in a home where his parents were always shouting. To Jim, regular arguments were just part of marriage.
When Jim got married, he kept waiting for the fighting to start but it never did. His own experience of this other, peaceful version of marriage has inspired him to raise awareness around the issues of domestic and sexual violence.
“Family background, culture, and traditions can establish expectations that can enable unhealthy behavior,” said Heffernan. “The work we do with Men Against Abuse raises awareness about what a healthy relationship looks like and also how to prevent unhealthy relationships. Making the positive, healthy choice to stand up against violence against women is good for both the MGH community and the larger community.”
Jim recently spoke about his personal experience and Men Against Abuse at a State House forum about domestic and sexual violence hosted by Partners HealthCare.
Beyond the hospital, Men against Abuse contributes to other prevention efforts in this area including the work of Jane Doe Inc. For a number of years now, Men Against Abuse has worked with Jane Doe Inc. on their annual Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Campaign. The campaign serves as an opportunity for men of all ages to stand up against violence toward women.
“Violence against women—domestic or sexual—is an issue everyone must work together to stop,” says Craig Norberg-Bohm, Coordinator of the Men’s Initiative for Jane Doe Inc. “Working with Jim and the Men Against Abuse group has allowed our White Ribbon Day efforts to have an even wider reach, which is essential to our efforts to prevent violence.”
Gary Gottlieb, MD, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare, spoke at this year’s White Ribbon Day event and noted that Men Against Abuse is representative of the commitment Partners has as a health care system to violence prevention.
We are all partners in preventing violence. Groups like Jane Doe Inc. and Men Against Abuse ensure that men are at the center of these conversations. By increasing awareness around this issue and making the healthy choice to stand up against domestic and sexual violence, Men Against Abuse contributes to community-wide efforts to violence prevention.