YWCA launching 'AMEND Together’ program to prevent violence against women

DAYTON — At the YWCA in Dayton – women come to receive additional shelter and assistance if they have been involved in domestic violence.

Now there is a new program aimed at young men in school – letting them know the importance of good conversation focused on preventing further cases of domestic violence.

YWCA leaders hope keeps their mission to defeat domestic violence goes without interruption, as they host virtual sessions with schools and organizations.

“I think it’s very critical that we really establish that in the beginning. So that way when we are able to have these conversations with these young men.” says Joshua Johnigan, program specialist for AMEND together.

Talking to those young men from children to teenagers up to 18, Johnigan, who helps run the program says starts by building understanding surrounding the seriousness of domestic violence.

“They were expressing to us that they felt that having open conversation and dialogue with other men was a sign of weakness…they looked at us like you’re not manly if you are in touch with your feelings.”

According to the Ohio attorney general’s office one in four women become victims of domestic violence, one in five women are raped and Montgomery County ranks #3 in the state for calls to police regarding domestic violence.

Development director Mark Shallweil says knowing that type of information starts to make it possible to reach young men whose backgrounds make that difficult.

“Community changes a lot. Poverty changes a lot. Racism changes a lot, but you also have to look at those who have the most.”says Shallweil.

By now talking about it - addressing the issues --- Travis Richards, who runs the program with Johnigan, says can help those they talk to feel comfortable.

“We don’t talk about these things. We don’t talk about these conversations. So we move about changing them to be better men holistically and challenging toxic masculinity.” Richard says. “If we make a small increment of a ‘let’s change the way you think’, ‘let’s approach this differently’, ‘let’s think about this critically’ – then we are going to change a lot of people’s behaviors.”

“Having conversations with that – to me is everything.” Johnigan agrees.