Bruce Cummings leans against a wall decoration emphasizing faith, friends and family in the offices at Advocates-Crisis Support Services. Cummings, who has been involved with the organization for five years, is starting a new program called Men’s Voices Against Violence and hosted the first meeting last night.

andy bockelman/for the daily press

Bruce Cummings leans against a wall decoration emphasizing faith, friends and family in the offices at Advocates-Crisis Support Services. Cummings, who has been involved with the organization for five years, is starting a new program called Men’s Voices Against Violence and hosted the first meeting last night.

New Craig group promoting anti-violence message

If you go …

What: Meeting for Men’s Voices Against Violence

When: 6:30 p.m. today

Where: Moffat County Courthouse conference room

— Men’s Voices Against Violence is a group with the goal of “helping men find ways to stand up against violence” in their community. For more information, call Bruce Cummings at 824-9709.

Craig resident Bruce Cummings believes being a man has little to do with one’s strength.

For him, being a man means standing up for those who need help and having a willingness to work through conflict without hurting anyone.

Those are beliefs he’d like to share with others.

Cummings is spearheading Men’s Voices Against Violence, a new branch of the organization Advocates-Crisis Support Services, which assists people victimized by domestic violence, sexual assault and similar crimes.

MVAV is seeking men in the community looking to speak out against such crimes, 75-percent of which are perpetrated by men on a national level, Cummings said.

“Really, the majority of men are non-violent, and what we need to do is get them standing up and saying, ‘Hey, this is not OK,’” he said.

Cummings said the group’s objective is “helping men find ways to stand up against violence,” as well as to “find better ways to express themselves” and to “redefine the meaning of masculinity so it doesn’t promote violence.”

“What we’re saying is it doesn’t take away your manhood to be non-violent,” he said.

Cummings first started with Advocates about five years ago.

“I found a passion for the struggles that men go through, and so I’ve kind of worked that angle helping men with their problems because that’s something I really thought needed some help and some growth and some understanding,” he said.

Cummings said he has had interest in forming such a group from numerous community members, and talking points for MVAV include raising awareness about how violence can seep into one’s life. A crude remark between friends can be crossing a boundary, he said.

“If you’re sitting there listening to someone’s dirty jokes or sexual innuendos, then that’s just telling them it’s OK to be that way,” he said.

Cummings said he hopes to get interested parties to sign a pledge that they will not resort to violence in their lives and will try to prevent violence from happening to friends and loved ones whenever possible.

However getting people to consciously choose to refrain from violent actions is only part of the problem. The other side of MVAV and Advocates is to help those who have suffered from violence keep from inflicting the same pain onto others.

Ultimately, Cummings would like to get both men and women talking about any issues they might have remained close-lipped about.

“Men can be victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, too,” Cummings said. “With them, they’re not always willing to talk about something that may have happened with their wives or when they were kids and then they just keep repeating the cycle because it’s what they know.”

Cummings said that more than anything, he would like to help men and women prevent violence from seeping into their homes.

“What we teach our children usually goes with them, and if we teach them to be violent, they will continue that cycle,” he said.

Promoting non-violence among kids in the community was among the topics Cummings discussed with a group of attendees at MVAV’s first meeting Tuesday night.

“We had a teacher there, and a couple other guys who are used to working with kids, so I think that’ll be important,” he said.

Cummings said the turnout was small but enthusiastic.

“We had a lot of participation, which is something I was concerned about, but it was definitely a good meeting and I think we got a lot accomplished,” he said. “My biggest focus before we meet again next month is getting the word out and getting more people involved and talking.”

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