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Identity & Community

With Father's Day Pledge, Initiative Encourages Taking A Stand Against Domestic Violence

June 21 is Father’s Day, and a local group says celebrating Dad should also mean taking a stand to end domestic violence.

The Father’s Day Pledge to End Gender Violence encourages people, particularly men, to sign a pledge that indicates their commitment to the prevention of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.

The pledge, which was launched just last year by the Southwest PA Says No More initiative, calls for men to not use violence in their own relationships and also to intervene when they see another man harming women or girls. Many notable locals, including Mayor Bill Peduto, University of Pittsburgh Head Basketball Coach Jamie Dixon and CEO of Peoples Natural Gas Morgan O’Brien have already signed this year’s pledge.

“The Father’s Day Pledge to End Gender Violence is a four-point pledge that helps men who are supportive of this issue have a better sense of what might their role be in promoting prevention,” said Kristy Trautmann, executive director of the Fisa Foundation.

The pledge can be found on the website of the No More initiative. Started by the FISA Foundation and the Heinz Endowments, the initiative is part of the national No More campaign focused on the prevention of domestic and sexual violence. The local initiative has engaged with many corporate, political and religious leaders in Pittsburgh to promote this campaign, some of whom appear in its launch video.

The Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania has recently teamed up with Southwest PA Says No More to create a booklet for clergy to help them incorporate discussions on gender violence into their Father’s Day worship. The booklet includes prayers, sermon starters and contacts for outside resources on domestic violence.

Christian Associates gathered local religious leaders of different Christian traditions to figure out the best way to approach discussion on gender violence in their respective denominations. The Rev. Liddy Barlow, executive minister of the Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, said the church has had a “mixed record” on domestic violence issues in the past.

“There have been times when clergy have counseled women to return to abusive relationships for the sake of a wrong understanding of what marital fidelity means,” she said. “I think now churches are starting to realize that violence against women is a grievous sin, and it’s something that churches need to stand against.”

Barlow said the church wants to show that they care about these issues, and they want to include every member in their discussion.

“This is everybody’s issue,” she said. “It’s not just a women’s issue, but it’s something that all members of our community, men and women, need to care about and to work to end so that we can have a more peaceful society for people of all genders.”

The Pittsburgh Pirates are also participating in this year’s Father’s Day Pledge. This Saturday, June 13, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) is partnering with the Pirates, which includes an “informational fair” for attendees before the game featuring organizations involved in domestic violence counseling and prevention, according to Trautmann. The PCADV will also invite everyone in attendance to sign the pledge.

Last year, about 24,000 individuals received services from domestic violence agencies in Southwest PA, 14,000 of which were in Allegheny County, according to PCADV. There were about 15,000 calls to 911 for domestic violence issues in the city of Pittsburgh alone.

Trautmann stressed the importance of tackling domestic violence that affects many in the region.

“People who’ve experienced abuse often suffer the consequences of that for many years, and if these crimes are preventable, don’t we have an obligation to act to make sure that the next generation is safer?” she said.

Those interested in getting involved with Southwest PA Says No More or those who wish to sign the pledge can do so on the initiative’s website.