“. . . battering is primarily a cultural problem, not a psychological one; that is to say, battering is a learned and socially reinforced behavior used to exert power and control in an intimate relationship, tightly linked to the history of male domination.” — Lundy Bancroft, author of “Why Does He Do That?”

We plan to write about other forms of domestic violence in the future, but for now we want to focus on the need for men to intervene, with other men, in everyday sexism and intimate partner violence. Domestic violence is not confined to male perpetrators, intimate partner violence, nor to heterosexual relationships and cis-gendered people, but women are significantly more likely to suffer from domestic violence than men. Citing a Department of Justice report from 2014, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence writes that “Most [non-fatal intimate partner] domestic violence is committed against women (82 percent), compared to men (18 percent).” We must understand intimate partner domestic violence in the context of millennia of patriarchy, in which women’s lives and bodies were (and still are) subordinate to men; and in the context of millennia of hierarchy, in which some people have control over others’ lives. In this light, domestic violence is largely a problem created by men, and men should play an active role in fixing it.

Abusers are not simply “sick” men, they are not “aberrant.” They are us. The abuse may happen in private, but the private sphere is directly connected to the public sphere. We are all responsible for keeping alive a culture that empowers these men to dehumanize, harm and even murder women. These men are the famous Camden musician and the Camden policeman. They are the Rockland man who murdered his ex-girlfriend when she brought him groceries and the husband who pushed his wife off a Camden cliff and claimed he didn’t. It is the man who was accused of horribly abusing his partner, yet still gets 10-year contracts with Bangor for his Waterfront Concerts, raking in the profits. They are the many men who commit acts of local, domestic terror — emotional and physical abuse, rape and stalking — that do not make it into the papers.

Gender education starts young. At all times we are teaching one another how to be in the world. Men are still mostly being taught to stuff down emotions, and to see women as less than them, even if unconsciously. This gender conditioning leads directly to abuse. The abuser may be trying to have power over someone else to help him feel more in control of his own life and unacknowledged pain.

Patriarchy hurts and kills men, as it hurts women, trans-people and non-gender-binary people. What can you do to intervene? We would feel a lot better if there were groups of men in our area who specifically gather to discuss what to do about violence towards women. What to do about the epidemic of rape. What to do about the way they have been trained to not empathize with each other. Men need to to intervene when a man says or posts something vaguely (or overtly) sexist, homophobic or transphobic, whether it seems like a “joke” or whatever. Men need to stop bonding by putting down women and stop desiring approval more from men than women.

You can donate time, money, or other resources to organizations that fight domestic violence. But, in general, “fixing intimate partner violence” means dismantling the patriarchy: refusing to participate in activities that demean women, and calling out/in behavior that does so; instituting policies to ensure that women are treated with respect and equality everywhere; stepping back to let women participate in group discussions; listening; asking before touching; noticing if you tend to stand closer to women than men.

If a friend or family member appears to be engaging in a pattern of abuse to a partner, please intervene! But do it carefully: New Hope for Women is a great resource to call if you aren’t sure how to approach the situation. You can talk with them anonymously, 24/7.

Men, it is your turn to fully take on the issues. To teach other men at any age that their jokes or comments that put down women and LGBTQI+ people are not okay. To teach empathy skills, to teach ways to care for each other, to teach ways to deal with strong emotions, to channel rage into making the world better for all of us, rather than bottling it up into an explosion that kills, whether yourself or a partner. There are plenty of books, articles and resources on this. From bell hooks’ “Feminism is for Everybody” to the goodmenproject.com and everydayfeminism.com. Please make a commitment to a lifetime’s work of unlearning patriarchy in yourself and others, and to transforming our communities.

The time is yesterday to do this work. Thank you for taking it on.