Rules of Engagement

by Laurence Mitchell

The epidemic of violence toward women and children is not a hallucination. Domestic violence and sexual assaults against women and children are real, they are vicious, they scar and in some instances they kill. The story is quite straightforward. A monstrous creature operates and feeds on the notion and belief that women and children are objects of less value. For now, I am not addressing the “exception to the rules” argument. Simply, I do acknowledge exceptions exist. More importantly, I acknowledge, like thousands of other men across America, that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault need champions to address the ugliness.

Thankfully, our community, like others, has organizations that aid women and children victims of domestic violence or sexual assaults. However; more often than not, these guardians have to use their skills and passion to support the injured victim leaving little time to prevent other domestic crimes or sexual assaults.

It is my aspiration to reach out to men, especially young men still in school, and encourage them to change the rules of engagement. Men need to hold themselves and other men accountable. Turning a blind eye to poor behavior of a friend or stranger should no longer be tolerated. Honoring agreements in which one man protects another man because of some mythical “code of men” is a lie. Silence is giving permission to wrong behavior.

As men, we need to establish new rules of engagement. We need to re-learn the role men must have in our society. Men need to accept the basic obligation to respect others. Not simply to shield women and children as much as hold themselves and fellow men accountable for licentious actions. No longer can we as men look for permission to do nothing. Neither self esteem nor manhood is strengthened by abusing the weak and vulnerable. A man pushing a woman around at the mall requires immediate intervention of some type. Witnessing a fellow student holding any girl against a locker door in a school hallway requires immediate intervention of some type. Actions of a bully are abusive, and intolerable. Striking or verbally abusing your friend, spouse or child is intolerable.

Arguments are inevitable in life; however, degrading, berating and touching are not ingredients of any argument but merely foul components of abuse and manipulation. Hurting someone is a choice, and the occurrence of that choice is a function of our level of tolerance. Each of us probably knows of abuse happening in a family, in the shopping mall, in the school halls and in the workplace. We know some groups are harming others. Now, what are we going to do about it?

I need your help. Letters need to be addressed to judges and police authorities demanding stronger penalties for abusers and stronger enforcement of protection orders. If an error is to be made, it must be made on the side of conservative safety. Letters need to be addressed to school officials demanding they get engaged with identifying bullies and then taking the proper steps to correct the situation. I would like the opportunity to be invited to speak to groups of men in the workplace, church, temple and school in order to share my experiences and expertise. I want the opportunity to challenge and encourage men to be intolerant of violence against woman and children. You can contact me personally at

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