Wearing the White Ribbon: Matt's Memo

When the invitation comes to be an Honorary Chairperson of a big event it typically means the charitable organization wants you to be the face of the cause. When Vera House executive director Randi Bregman extended that invitation to me at the start of this year I instantly recognized it was not my face that would be critical to the White Ribbon campaign. It was the faces of all the women in our community who have suffered violence and abuse at the hands of men.

I can see those faces passing by when I consider all the beatings, shootings and stabbings on which I have reported over the last 23 years. In fact, I first met Randi Bregman at Vera House two decades ago interviewing her about one of those senseless crimes. The names of the women readily come to mind: Jill Cahill, Chiarra Seals and Ginny Hurd.

Just this weekend while working the Healthy Pet Clinics on Syracuse's north side I talked with a woman whose pets we have helped for two years running. She walks with a limp. She slurs her speech. She struggles to grasp a pen with her hand. She appears to have suffered a stroke. She did not. A man took an axe to her head.

Doctors advised her family to remove her from life support in fear she would live in a vegetative state. Her mother prayed and remained commited to her daughter's life. You should have seen mom and daughter both smiling broadly as they brought her pets to the Clinic for care.

Who would ever think of taking an axe to the head of a fellow human being? Who would think of bashing a woman's head with a baseball bat? Who would think of shooting a woman repeatedly because she attempted to end an abusive relationship? Men like that are out there, but it has to stop.

That's where the White Ribbon campaign picks up. Most of us are not the men who would ever consider violence against a woman. But, we all play a role in how women are viewed in our culture and community.

Our actions set an example for our family members and friends. Our behavior sets a standard for boys learning how to become men. Our respect and love can set a new course for those faces we care so much about. Those faces we do not want added to the list of victims of violence.


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