story by: nikki carlson
page design by: stacy mantle
About two weeks ago, the message “Real Men Teach Respect for Women” was put on a First Street billboard next to Tire-Rama.
It's a message from the Hill County DELTA Project for men along the Hi-Line: Teach young men and boys to establish healthy relationships with women and prevent domestic violence.
Pete Paulsen, a member of Hill County's Domestic Violence Task Force, said people's mindsets about domestic abuse have to change.
“Men have to accept the leadership and to socially understand the process of domestic violence,” Paulsen said. “We need to follow the leadership of the women and take steps to change the pattern of domestic violence.”
Domestic violence will be the focus of a monthlong campaign in November in Hill County. In addition, from Nov. 25 through Dec. 6, men and boys will encouraged to wear white ribbons to show their support for the White Ribbon Campaign, which began in 1991.
The White Ribbon Campaign was created by a group of Canadian men who stressed men's responsibility to take action to stop violence against women. The white ribbon is a symbol of their opposition to domestic violence.
The campaign began two years after the Montreal Massacre in 1989, where Marc Lepine entered an engineering classroom at the University of Montreal and killed 14 women and wounded 13 others before taking his own life. Lepine said women had ruined his life.
DELTA coordinator Kate Hillson said the White Ribbon Campaign is the world's first organization of men to address the issue of domestic violence against women. According to the campaign's Web site, www.whiteribbon.ca, Dec. 6 marks the 15th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre and is Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Hillson said men along the Hi-Line will be able to pick up a free, white ribbon at almost any business.
“I think that men letting other men know that we're not going to accept it may make it change,” Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line director Tim Brurud said.
“It's a good program,” said task force volunteer Steve Heil, a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual. “Everybody should support this.”
Hillson said DELTA hopes to teach boys and young men about domestic violence before it becomes a problem in hopes that it will no longer be a common occurrence.
“Our goal is to focus on domestic and intimate partner violence prevention,” she said.
In 2002, Montana was one of 14 states chosen to share a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to implement the DELTA Project. Locally that's being done by the Domestic Violence Task Force, one of five Montana recipients selected from the Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence to work to participate.
“Hill County was selected because we had the resources and the experience with domestic violence to begin primary prevention work,” Hillson said.
The task force includes tribal members, business owners, lawyers, judges, law enforcement, school counselors, volunteers, the Hill County Attorney's Office and Human Resources Development Council personnel who meet every three months. However, every three months wasn't enough time to get things done, so a smaller group was created to meet monthly and report to the larger group.
Hillson, who's been the project coordinator for two months, said the DELTA Project is starting to create domestic violence programs for the community's youth.
“We're trying to get (the program) to a point where it's self-sustaining,” Hillson said.
One of the programs, which will be offered at the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, is called Second Step. Second Step is intended to reduce social and emotional problems for youths by teaching them empathy, impulse control, problem solving and anger management. Hillson said the class will be offered after Jan. 1 as soon as she undergoes teacher training for the class.
“This is extremely important because children are our future. Children need to realize what entails a healthy relationship,” Hillson said. “They need to learn that there are better ways to handle problems.”
Paulsen believes that the incidence of domestic violence may dwindle if the youth learn early in life that violence is not the solution - a moral that was passed down to him, and one that he has taught his two sons.
“My mother taught me that you don't hit girls,” he said. “Mothers need to teach their sons that they don't hit girls.”
On Thursday at the Havre TownHouse Inn's Bear Paw Room, there will be a free, all-day Mentors in Violence Prevention workshop for men from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The workshop will include: MVP's history and goals, gender scenarios and exercises, lunch and a question- and-answer discussion.
Mentors in Violence Prevention is a national program founded in 1993 by Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society to motivate young men and women to solve problems of violence against women like rape, assault and sexual harrassment.
For more information about the MVP workshop, contact Kate Hillson, DELTA coordinator at the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, at 265-6206 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.