by Dave Dunaway
Executive Director SAFE San Juans
Four years ago a simple fundraising idea on San Juan Island sparked an inspirational movement among men. It was to see if 100 men would stand against domestic violence by donating $100 to the agency serving San Juan County’s survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault (now called SAFE San Juans — “SAFE”). SAFE needed those funds to offer domestic violence/sexual assault prevention in local schools. SAFE’s goal was to change the thoughts and attitudes which can lead to DV/SA. More than 100 men “stood up” and accepted the challenge, but they didn’t stop with donations. They formed into an ad-hoc community action group and started weekly stand-ins on the courthouse lawn. Every Friday at noon, “Stand Up Men” make a silent protest against the attitudes and actions of those who perpetrate violence. The Stand Up Men have also helped SAFE with fundraising or awareness events and provided physical aid to DV/SA survivors. Their current goal is to raise $45,000 for SAFE to provide comprehensive DV/SA prevention education across the county. They reach out to friends, set up tables at the grocery stores and farmers market, and visit businesses asking people to support SAFE.
The Stand Up Men’s actions are being noticed. Men on Orcas and Lopez islands are forming groups. King 5 News featured them on the nightly news; now men across Washington are reaching out.
Occasionally someone asks how the Stand Up Men are related to SAFE. Though we share common interests, the Stand Up Men do not operate under SAFE’s guidance, supervision or instruction. They are an independent group of men who care deeply about the issues at hand. When they conduct their vigils or ask people to donate to SAFE, they do so as concerned citizens operating entirely on their own.
SAFE San Juans is a community-based nonprofit agency with offices in Friday Harbor, Eastsound and Lopez Village. Our mission is the elimination of domestic violence and sexual assault. Our services range from crisis intervention, counseling, safety planning, legal advocacy (including protection orders), medical advocacy, support groups to prevention education. Given the trauma DV/SA survivors experience, our services are confidential and free of charge.
I have a request for my fellow islanders. When you see a Stand Up Man, thank him for caring about the terrible effects of DV/SA. Honk and wave to them on the courthouse lawn. Thoughtfully consider when one asks you to make a donation to SAFE; our agency is frequently overwhelmed by the needs, and we welcome the help. Never underestimate the impact a small group of people can have in changing attitudes and turning the tide of events. We see it happening through the Stand Up Men.
For information about SAFE San Juans, call 360-378-8680 or visit one of our three offices. If you are in domestic violence or sexual assault crisis and need immediate help, please call our 24-hour crisis line at 360-378-2345.