BY NEIL GRASSO
James Craven sits in the Sacred Heart University computer lab, reciting lines to his speech and preparing pamphlets on a desk. As the philanthropy chair for Delta Tau Delta, Craven is in charge of running the White Ribbon Campaign, an international effort to stop violence against women.
“This is a great opportunity to get our message out that we will not stand for this on Sacred Heart’s campus, or anywhere in the Bridgeport-Fairfield area,” said Craven on the topic of domestic violence. “I know this event has done well in the past. A lot of people come out to support and take the oath against domestic violence, and I’m proud to be a part of an organization that supports this.”
The White Ribbon Campaign was started in 1991 by an all-male group looking to speak out and work to stop male violence against women. The Toronto-based group was propelled into action after learning about the massacre of 14 women at the University of Montreal in December of 1989.
The Delta Tau Delta White Ribbon event hosted nearly 200 people on campus in the UC Auditorium this past Friday, Feb. 23. It was run in conjunction with the Center for Family Justice of Bridgeport, CT.
It consisted of multiple speakers including school representatives, local law enforcement officials, local government officials, and more.
The President of Delta Tau Delta, Arthur Natale, spoke on the topic of domestic violence at the event, saying “We, meaning all of the people in this room, are beacons of hope to the community around us. And while it is necessary to reach as large of an audience as we can, we must realize that it is the people in the shadows that most desperately need our help.”
The event is a part of Delta Tau Delta’s local philanthropy, which is raising awareness against domestic violence and sexual assault.
According to the Center for Family Justice’s website, one in four women and one in six men are sexually abused in their lifetime, and in 80 percent of cases, the victim knows their attacker.
Regarding instances of domestic abuse, one person in the U.S. experiences abuse every nine seconds. One in four women have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner, and one in four victims of intimate partner violence are gay, lesbian, transgender or queer.
The Center for Family Justice’s mission statement focuses on breaking the cycle of abuse and violence by providing services that create hope, restore lives, and drive social change through education and community collaboration.
Other speakers included Dr. John Petillo, President of Sacred Heart University, Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara, and a survivor of domestic violence who wished not to be named for the safety of her family.
“To have a victim of domestic abuse with the strength to come speak and inform us about what she has been through and what she has overcome was truly an act of bravery,” said Ashley Thomas, a sophomore who attended the event.
Chief MacNamara expressed support for the campaign by launching a new social media hashtag, #MenCareToo, to promote male awareness of female abuse in Fairfield and neighboring communities.
“It’s heartening to see such a great turnout for an event that focuses on such an important issue,” says Matt Devito, Vice President of Delta Tau Delta. “This is something that is much bigger than any individual member of our fraternity, and to see other people come to participate is great because it takes the combined effort of everyone involved to hopefully one day end this abuse.”
For more information on The White Ribbon Campaign or Delta Tau Delta’s local philanthropy, contact fraternity president Arthur Natale (firstname.lastname@example.org), philanthropy chair James Craven (email@example.com), or Center for Family Justice CEO and Executive Director Debra Greenwood (firstname.lastname@example.org).