by Rona Amiri, Battered Women’s Support Services YOUth Ending Violence Consultant

While many boys and men do not participate in sexist or abusive behaviors towards women, they are often silent when it comes to interrupting sexist comments, street harassment and violence against girls and women. It can be difficult to go against the grain and speak up against friends or family. However, it can be just as difficult to see someone you know degrade and be violent towards girls and women in their life. As a friend you are in the position to, not only stop the violence when you witness it, but also prevent your male friends and family from being sexist and violent. Although change is only possible when the person chooses to change, you still have the ability to support the change; your actions can make a difference!

When friends and family remain silent or excuse violence, the abusive person is only continues to be violent. It may be difficult to admit to yourself that your friend or family member is violent, but as a man, you have the greatest ability to influence the change. It is not easy for someone who is violent to accept responsibility for the violence or admit his violence is a choice. Men who are violent often blame the girls and women they are with for the abuse. Because he most likely benefits from having power and control over his partner in the relationship he may turn to you to justify his violence.

So what can you do?

1. Learn about gender violence and violence in intimate relationships so that you can share the facts about violence with your male friends or family members who are violent. Educate him on the types of abuse and why his behaviour is abusive.

2. Do not support his behaviour in any way! This may be difficult because you feel that you are going against someone you care for however, it is important to remember that you are helping him be in a healthier relationship.

3. Important to remember that most men who are violent in their relationships have learned this behaviour (80%). Remind him that it is a cycle and he has the ability to stop the cycle of violence.

4.When you witness violent behaviour call it out and identify it as abuse and/or gender violence. Don’t ignore it!

5. Criticize his sexist and/or abusive behaviour: Let your friend[s] know that it is not okay with you for them to be sexist or abusive towards girls and women.

6. He will probably try and blame his partner for the violence so remember do not encourage or be sympathetic to those feelings. He may also say that the violence is mutual which is a myth in most cases. Learn more about the myth of mutual battering here.

7. He is likely to minimize and make like of the abuse so remember to remind him that you have witnessed his behaviour and that you take it seriously.

8. Remind him that there is more to being a man then being in control and dominant.

9. Make sure you are clear that violence is a choice and that he can choose not be violent. Remind him that you are there to support his change.

10. Help him take responsibility for the violence and help him understand that the violence is not about anger, but rather about maintaining power and control over his partner.

11. Convince him to seek professional help. It can be difficult to make changes without help.

12. Keep a list of resources ready to share with him to encourage his change.

13. Do not share any information that his partner shares with you regarding the violence. This will only make him angry and he will likely take out his anger on his partner.

14. Help him focus on his partners’ feelings and the hurt she is experiencing because of his violence towards her.

15. Remind him that through change he will have healthier relationships in his life.

Continue to speak up against the abuse and do not give up. Change takes a long time but it is important that you realize it’s in your hands to help prevent and end violence against girls and women.

During Prevention of Violence Against Women Week we will engage our online community in violence prevention by remembering we all have a role to play in preventing violence against girls and women as individuals, in our relationships, in our community and in society.

For more information about “It’s in Your Hands”, please visit:

Preventing Violence Against Women – It’s In Your hands

Gender Violence in the Workplace

20 Ways Youth Can Prevent Violence Against Girls & Women

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