UPDATED: YWCA Northeast Indiana expanding focus to involve men in ending violence against women

Paula Hughes-Schuh, the president and CEO of YWCA Northeast Indiana, and the organization want to get more men involved in the effort to stop violence against women. (Courtesy photo)

Men have been the main cause of domestic violence. Now the YWCA Northeast Indiana wants to involve them in solving the problem, encouraging men to stand up with women against domestic violence.

The shift in focus began with planning for the YWCA’s upcoming annual fundraiser, which had been called the Circle of Women during its first 20 years, said Paula Hughes-Schuh, who became the YWCA’s president and CEO in August.

This year, as part of the effort to involve more men, the YWCA changed the name to Circle Luncheon for the event at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Grand Wayne Convention Center, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd. Tickets still are available for $25 per person at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ywca-northeast-indiana-circle-luncheon-tickets-35355134158?aff=ehomecard.

A few men had attended in the past, Hughes-Schuh said, but the goal now is to get more men involved in the issue.

“If we are going to eradicate domestic violence, we need men involved,” she said.

The YWCA Northeast Indiana works to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all, it said on the organization’s website, http://www.ywca.org/site/c.duLQK8OVLmK6E/b.8084035/k.BDEF/Home.htm.

The nonprofit organization’s programs and services include operating a shelter for women and men who are victims of domestic violence. It also operates a 24-hour crisis hotline for people to call if they need help to escape domestic violence.

Last year, the hotline received 7,468 calls from residents of the six northeast Indiana counties the YWCA Northeast Indiana serves, and more than 85 percent of the callers lived in Fort Wayne or Allen County, said Mary Jo Hardiman, YWCA Northeast Indiana’s chief operating officer.

Many other cases of domestic violence go unreported, Hardiman added, because people are afraid to contact law enforcement authorities.

The local YWCA, which serves Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells and Whitley counties, also cared for 440 children last year in its domestic violence shelter, a total comparable to the enrollment of an elementary school, Hardiman said.

Hughes-Schuh said there seems to be something built into society that makes it OK for men to be overly aggressive toward women.

It’s an ages-old problem, but the public’s tolerance of domestic violence has been shifting, in part because of the #MeToo campaign, Hughes-Schuh said. The social media campaign against sexual assault and harassment has gone viral.

“What is changing is there are more people willing to stand up and say, ‘Wait, this is not acceptable!'” Hughes-Schuh said.

Most of those taking a stand so far have been women, she said, but the YWCA now wants to encourages men to stand up, too, to oppose violence against women.

At the moment, Hughes-Schuh said the YWCA doesn’t have any follow-up programs planned to build on the momentum of getting more men involved in stopping violence toward women, but she thinks that would be a good idea.


WHAT: The YWCA Northeast Indiana will hold its fundraising Circle Luncheon, which will feature keynote speaker Jackson Katz, a scholar and author of “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help.” The event formerly was called the Circle of Women, but the name was changed to encourage more involvement by men.

WHEN: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Grand Wayne Convention Center, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd.

COST: $25 per person. Register through Thursday morning on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ywca-northeast-indiana-circle-luncheon-tickets-35355134158?aff=ehomecard.