Approximately 30 men stood on the Vineyard Haven Seawall on Saturday, July 11, for the ninth annual Connect to End Violence Seawall Stand. The purpose of the event was to engage men in the fight against sexual violence.
The seawall event was led by MOVE on MV (Men Opposing Violence Everywhere on Martha’s Vineyard), a group of men that works, in collaboration with Connect to End Violence, to help raise awareness about healthy relationships, sexual assault prevention, and ending toxic masculinity. MOVE on M.V. believes that having a male-led event about sexual violence is an important step in taking accountability and responsibility to change that culture and raise awareness, according to the group’s Facebook page
Matt Malowski, a counselor at MVRHS and the M.V. Community Services male initiative specialist, helped organize the event. Malowski believes the Seawall Stand is important to show that sexual violence is a men’s problem, and men need to take a more active role in ending it.
“I think it’s important to stand out here, because we just don’t see enough men talking about this issue,” Malowski said. “To see all these men out on the wall today and to have people beep their horns as we hold these signs shows that we are a part of this too. We need to do our part.”
Oak Bluffs resident Mac Curran has been attending this event for five years. “This is a cause I think is really important,” Curran said. “With all that’s going on right now, this topic cannot be forgotten. That’s why I’m out here.”
David Araujo and his son Ryan joined the men on the wall. David is the director of the Island Intervention Center and the director of the emergency services program at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. “I feel as though it is really important for us as men to stand up here on this wall and be supportive of women and individuals in general who are going through situations of domestic violence,” David Araujo said.
Thirteen-year-old Ryan joined his father to spread awareness. “I want to spread awareness for domestic violence,” Ryan said. “I think more people my age should be spreading awareness.”
The men on the wall were supported by drivers who honked as they passed by.
“This location makes it so that people are able to see us and our message, and see that there are a bunch of men up here who care about their community,” David said. “It shows that we care about the problems going on, and want to deal with it and move forward.”
The Seawall Stand was started by Tisbury Police Sgt. Max Sherman in 2012. MOVE on M.V. has used this event to show that sexual violence is not just a women’s issue. The men on the wall held signs that explained why they cared about this issue.
“Having a strong visual representation that people care here on the seawall is really important,” Connect to End Violence program director Jennifer Neary said. “It’s a high-traffic area, so there is more of an opportunity for people to see this and be impacted by this.”
The event looked slightly different this year due to the pandemic. All participants were required to wear masks and stand socially distant from one another on the wall. “It was never an option not to do this event this year,” Neary said. “It was just a matter of how it would look with all that’s going on.
The Seawall Stand has expanded over the years. The organization’s ultimate goal is to fill the entire wall. For now, participants are happy to spread their message to the community.
“For me, standing up here means that I live in a community that cares about each other,” Malowski said. “I have a wife and two daughters, and seeing all these guys here tells me that if something unfortunate were to ever happen to my daughters, one of these guys would step in and help.”
Malowski encourages all men to get involved with MOVE on M.V. or Connect through the MV Community Services website (bit.ly/mvcsctev).