More NJ men needed in the fight against domestic violence
Siyan Bradley's mother, Renee, was killed by her ex-boyfriend when she returned to her Perth Amboy home from a morning supermarket trip in the summer of 2006.
Their relationship, while it lasted, was never physically abusive, Bradley said, but it was certainly unhealthy.
And if enough people, or even one person, were keen on spotting the signs that something wasn't right, he said, his mother could still be alive today.
In March 2018, after years of healing — and finally being able to share his story without breaking down — Bradley and his family formed a foundation in his mother's name, devoted to mentoring young New Jersey adults on spotting the early signs of a toxic relationship, and the lasting, negative impacts of domestic violence.
"You grow up and you think this is normal behavior and this is how you're supposed to behave if you're in an argument with a significant other," the Somerset resident said. "We wanted to turn her tragedy, or this tragedy for us, into something positive."
The 36-year-old is the first to be featured in the NJ Men of Strength campaign launched this month — Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month — by the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
The campaign invites men to get involved in the movement to end domestic violence by signing a pledge to do their part.
Throughout October, the campaign is recognizing men in New Jersey who have already taken steps to address the issue in their communities.
"We are really looking forward to engaging more men and boys in our work to end domestic violence in New Jersey from here on out," said NJCEDV Executive Director Pamela Jacobs.
While we often hear about men who commit domestic violence, Jacobs said, there are many more men who are not perpetrators and instead are concerned about the problem and want to do something to help.
In a survey from Futures Without Violence, 57 percent of men said they believe they can personally make a difference in preventing domestic violence and sexual assault. Nearly three-quarters of men think they can make a difference in promoting healthy relationships among young people.
Involved with the cause since his mother's passing, Bradley said there's undoubtedly more women than men speaking out and taking a stand against domestic violence.
"We don't have as large of a voice in the fight against domestic violence as I think we should," Bradley said.