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Group Galvanizes Men To Stop Violence Against Women

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There's a new D.C.-based national effort to combat sexual assault on college campuses. Joe Vess, director of training for the group Men Can Stop Rape, explains the goal of the "Where Do You Stand" campaign this way.

"To engage men around what they can do to be active bystanders in the prevention of men's violence against women," he says. "Whether it's sexual assault, stalking, harassment or dating violence."  

Vess's agency has worked with colleges and universities across the country, as well as middle and high schools and the U.S. military. Often, young men think there's not a place for them in preventing violence against women, Vess says. 

"If one or two of them speak out, other men will join them in challenging the violence that they see," Vess says. 

The group says there are a number of things that men can do when presented with a situation, such as a party where a man sees another man getting kind of aggressive with a woman, or the woman backing away from some unwanted advance. 

"The easiest is using a distraction," says Jared Watkins, a recent Georgetown grad who interns at Men Can Stop Rape. "If you see someone who might need help in a situation, you can call their cell phone, you can ask them to dance, just anything to give the situation more time."

Sexual assault can happen anywhere, Watkins adds.

"Sometimes when we talk about these kinds of problems, we tend to single out certain groups -- sports teams, fraternities," he says. "But this is a problem on every campus in every social group, and I think all all men no matter where they are socially or in the country have a role in preventing violence against women."

Men Can Stop Rape is working with D.C.'s Office of Victim Services in an effort to bring the program to all colleges and universities in D.C.

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