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Domestic violence group takes aim at involving men

SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - In a world where it appears many men have struggled to find their voice in preventing domestic violence, a group of Puget Sound residents will spend Father's Day launching a new Web site aimed at spreading the word that males play a pivotal role in curbing a growing epidemic.

Volunteers from the Men's Network Against Domestic Violence will officially unveil their group and mission on June 20 when they introduce www.menagainstdv.org, a new Web site created to provide leadership, tools and motivation for men to be active against male violence.

"Men can get involved in a real way - in one-day-at-a-time activities," said Ward Urion, one of the men guiding the network.

Men's Network Against Domestic Violence was born in September after several men began discussing several issues regarding males and domestic violence, including the misconception that violence and masculinity go hand in hand, said Kevin Miller, one of the group's organizers.

Volunteers soon began soliciting city officials, leaders and residents from around the Puget Sound area to get involved. Part of that involvement includes signing a pledge that domestic violence will not be a part of their lives.

According to statistics posted on the Eastside Domestic Violence Program Web site, nearly 1 in 3 women experience at least one physical assault by an intimate partner during adulthood. According to studies, 90-95 percent of domestic violence victims are women.

Although the Web site is partially up, there are a number of resources and materials being added for its official launch this weekend.

According to the group's organizers the materials aim to convince men that domestic violence is not a private matter, that is does affect everybody and that men will need to express healthy values and support their peers to end the violence.

The task is daunting, said Miller, but it can be done.

"At the end of the day this is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant," said Miller.

One of the partnerships the Men's Network Against Domestic Violence has formed is with the Snoqualmie Valley Community Network.

"We're partnering with the Men's Network because we believe men will listen to men and we're hoping to help change attitudes, beliefs and behaviors about healthy relationships," said group and local school board member Kristy Sullivan.

Sullivan said by teaming with the group and leveraging resources, the chance of spreading the message increases.

The Valley-based group set domestic violence as one of four priorities in its 10-year plan nearly 10 years ago, according to Sullivan. With a slate of other priorities falling into place last spring, Sullivan said the group changed its focus when it became aware of the shortage of resources for victims of domestic violence in the Valley.

More research led the group to look at needs and gaps in the area when it came to domestic violence and to ensure that victims from the Valley could access shelter, Sullivan said. The group also is working to ensure law enforcement and the program's provider, Eastside Domestic Violence Program, are working closely together so that victims can access an advocate 24 hours a day.

After the Father's Day launch the group members say they will continue their push for education and even hope to host a leadership summit in early 2005.

For information, visit www.menagainstdv.org.

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