(Memphis) The YWCA in Tennessee is taking on the challenge of preventing domestic violence, but not in the city where the problem is the worst.
Tickets are selling out at a speaking engagement for men in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, but until the YWCA brings the program here, men have at least one place they can go for help.
Four times a week, 16 men, all accused of domestic violence at some point, meet at Grace Church of God in Christ, to learn how they can become better men.
“The volunteers are rare,” said Oliver T. Williams, the program director for Hope Center at Grace.
Williams says the vast majority of men are court-ordered to come.
“It is once a week for 26 weeks.”
The classes are full with men, Williams says, who need to be reprogrammed.
“Some of the ways and thoughts of many that come through our doors – their ways and thoughts are antiquated when it comes to male/female relationships.”
In Nashville, the YWCA is trying to make an impact on men before they need reprogramming.
“It’s just changing attitudes in the community,” said Elizabeth Shelley, the director for community education for YWCA in Memphis.
Two-hundred men have already signed up for the class in Nashville that the YWCA says will show them how some advertisements objectify women and how that, along with everyday attitudes, can lead to domestic violence.
Shelley says the YWCA may also be bringing a speaker to Memphis to encourage men to form groups against violence.
“It’s men talking amongst themselves that is really going to make a change.”
For now, more than 60 men a week come to the North Memphis church to talk about ways they can change.
“We may have a person who thinks it’s appropriate to batter, to hit, because that was the way they were socialized,” said Williams. “And then after being exposed to the material, they change and understand that this is not appropriate.”
If you would like to donate to the Hope Center at Grace or take the 26-week class, click here.