February marks the beginning of Be More Than A Bystander Month in Hamilton! Originally created by the Ending Violence Association of BC in partnership with the BC Lions, Be More Than A Bystander is a campaign that engages male community leaders to meaningfully address gender-based violence through prevention, bystander intervention, and raising awareness about the issue. In 2016, Interval House of Hamilton purchased the rights to Be More Than A Bystander and brought the program to The City of Hamilton through MentorAction, where we have since expanded the program and partnered with a number of organizations to extend our reach. Today, we proudly partner with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Hamilton FORGE FC, SportHamilton, and McMaster University to facilitate gender-based violence prevention through public education, trainings, and events.
Be More Than A Bystander Month is an opportunity for folks to think about how they can become more involved in addressing and ending gender-based violence in their communities. Throughout February 2023, MentorAction will be facilitating several events and online campaigns to incite community engagement and awareness of the issue and how to address it. Follow our social media to learn more about how you can participate!
Today, we want to start by sharing ten ways that you can BE MORE THAN A BYSTANDER:
- Educate yourself on the statistics, stories, and experiences of gender-based violence in Hamilton and beyond. Reflect on where you enter this conversation and why you are committed to getting more involved.
- If you see or hear someone using violence, whether it be through actions or words, make the decision to intervene. Don’t stay silent. Offer your support, check-in with the person experiencing violence, keep yourselves and others safe, and make it clear that what’s happening is not okay.
- Normalize conversations about consent! Consent doesn’t need to only be in a sexual context; check in with people before you hug them and before you take and post a picture of them. Respect bodily autonomy and personal boundaries!
- Believe survivors who come forward to talk about their experiences! Whether it be in a personal disclosure or an example in the media, create space for survivors to tell their stories, offer your support, listen, be genuine, and let them lead the conversation.
- Learn about services, resources, and supports in your community that seek to address gender-based violence so that you know where folks can go if they have experienced violence and want to talk about it.
- Think and talk about what a healthy relationship is! Engage youth in your teams, schools, and communities in conversations about consent and community care to build futures free from violence.
- Challenge stigma about gender-based and sexual violence, including myths that blame survivors for their experiences. Critically reflect on where these things come from, what informs them, and the impacts that they can have.
- Advocate at your workplace, school, team, or community organization to sign up for gender-based violence prevention training with MentorAction staff.
- Take your #FirstStepFirstChange to commit to ending gender-based violence in your community by signing up and becoming part of the #SteelCityAllies !
- Participate in our Be More Than A Bystander month activities, including Wear Purple Day on February 7th!