[This is the third post in a series, criticizing the recent campaign by anti-feminist Glenn Sacks against The Family Place. I’d like to remind readers that “Alas, a Blog” will match any contributions you make to The Family Place this week (up to $800 total), so please donate, and then let me know in comments or by using the form!]
This post continues the interview with Paige Flink, the executive director of The Family Place. The Family Place, a Dallas-based group providing shelter and services to victims of domestic violence, was the subject of a recent campaign by men’s rights activists, led by Glenn Sacks.
Once again, thanks to Ms. Flink for being nice enough to talk with me.
Did Glenn Sacks, or any other men’s rights activist, contact you about these ads prior to beginning their campaign?
No. They started blasting before I ever heard from him.
Did Glenn Sacks directly call or write you once his campaign had begun?
He did call me later, kinda the way I remember it happening, our bus ads had been up for about three weeks, the Dallas news ran an article about it. He [talked about the ads] on a Sunday radio show, and then on Monday DART was deluged with emails. Then I got a call from him the following week. He called saying, and I’m paraphrasing, “I have a way for you to get yourself out of this mess you’ve gotten yourself into.” I did not return his phone call.1
Why didn’t you return his call?
Well, I didn’t return his call.. at that point, we were being attacked. It wasn’t a conversation I had started, and I didn’t feel like my point of view would make any difference.
Does The Family Place provide services to male victims of domestic violence?
Yes we do. We do. Of course, there’s a huge difference in the number. On an average year we’ll shelter between 700 and 900 women and children, and we’ll council 8-20 men who are victims.
We do not shelter men in the facility, but we do provide hotel vouchers. We have a suite we can use. Most of the men who have come to us have been men in same-sex relationships, so we work with the Dallas Resource Center, which provides services for gays and lesbians. And when they come with kids we help them too; we have sheltered men with children.
Would you consider bus ads designed to reach out to male victims of violence?
We would certainly consider it. This was our 30th anniversary and we had been saving money for a campaign, and we targeted women specifically because our experience has been that when women think about what their children are witnessing, they are more likely to take action. We are ultimately trying to prevent murders, and women are the most likely victims of murder in these situations.
It was a small campaign, but we wanted it to be memorable.
Would you have been open to, for example, the idea of Glenn and his audience raising funds to help pay for an ad campaign reaching out to abused men?
Sure. My experience has not been that with these father’s rights groups, but if a father’s rights group had contacted us and said we want to help raise money to provide counseling services and to provide shelter, that would have been incredible. But that’s never happened.
How would you respond to a men’s rights activist who said “men aren’t using the services because there hasn’t been enough outreach to men”?
I would talk about the reality of the person who seems harmed the most, and with limited funds, we have to serve the people who are in the most danger. The lethality in family violence of a women who’s being harmed by a man is greater. We don’t have unlimited funds, and the most vulnerable are the women who have children. The women in our shelter usually come because their children have become a target. That is the very specific response we were targeting in our campaign.
We weren’t trying to make a big point about “sexism” and all of those other things — that wasn’t the point. We had a very specific point we were trying to make: There is a cycle of violence. We want to reach the people who most need our help. We want to reach them before they get murdered.
What advice would you give a men’s rights activist who is sincerely concerned about male victims of domestic violence?
I would say, get together another group of men and raise the money to provide the services for the people you say are needing them. And go out there and say “we are the new men’s shelter, and we are here to serve men who have been victims of family violence and sexual violence in their homes.” Do it just the way the women’s shelters stared 30 years ago.
Then show when you open the doors — when The Family Place opened the doors in 1978, it was full, because so many people needed help. Then show the numbers, go back to your donors, and say “I had to turn away 100 men because I lacked the funding.” Everything that happened with shelters for women, happened because of the demand.
Don’t put me down because I’m trying to help somebody. Go out there and help somebody.
Instead of bashing women’s organizations, stand up and help somebody yourself. That’s what I’d say.