5 Quick Questions: Toby Fraser of Men Can


Glad to get the word out about a tremendous initiative this week at quizzo, Men Can. I’ll have some postcards to give away about their upcoming event on October 11th, and some koozies to give away as prizes this week as part of name that tune. I did an interview with Toby Fraser, a community educator at Lutheran Settlement House and an integral part of the Man Can Initiative, to tell us more about who they are and what they do.

Toby Fraser, Manager of Community Education, Lutheran Settlement House
Toby Fraser, Manager of Community Education, Lutheran Settlement House

JGT: What is Men Can all about?

TOBY: Men Can is about having more men take action against intimate partner violence (IPV). We know that while most men are not violent or abusive in their relationships, most violence is committed by a man. Men Can spaces are created to be a place to encourage that non-abusive behavior, to build skills in spreading that message, and to come together and support each other to get beyond some of the messages we’ve been taught as guys that might lead us to choosing violence in the future.

JGT: How did it start? What was the impetus?

TOBY: Men Can started about 10 years ago as a coalition between many non-profits in Philadelphia. It has stayed true to the mission of encouraging and building with men in the movement to help prevent IPV. Unfortunately with 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experiencing IPV in their lifetime this is happening all the time, and there is not always a big flashy news story accompanying this violence. What keeps us going now is knowing that most men are not violent and that we can take it upon ourselves to make sure that more and more men are choosing non-violence moving forward.

JGT: What can men do specifically to help victims of domestic violence?

TOBY: People can do a lot to help survivors of IPV. From actively choosing to not use abuse in relationships, to talking to kids, friends and neighbors about that choice, to volunteering with Lutheran Settlement House or making a donation. We have many Men Can events that help build skills to have those hard conversations, and are going to be crafting ways to take action together starting later this fall as well.

We also encourage those who know someone who is being abused to not blame that victim. Never ask “why do they stay”, always ask “why do they abuse”. If you know someone being abused you can tell them that help is available 24/7 for free at the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline 866-723-3014. Even if they choose to not accept your help does not make future abuse their fault. Let them know you are there for them whenever they do want help. It’s their life and their decision.

JGT: Are there any specific goals you guys are trying to reach?  

TOBY: Broadly we are working to end Intimate Partner Violence. Along that long road there are some smaller goals, but the most important thing for us to stay an inviting and welcoming space for people to come together and learn whatever skills they need to be part of this movement. Our goal is to engage people of any gender in stopping violence.

JGT: Tell us more about the event on October 11th.

TOBY: On October 11, from 11am to 1pm we will be hosting the Men Can rally at Paine Plaza (1401 JFK Blvd) in Center City. The rally is a fun time to meet folks who are involved, get some new info about Men Can, hear speakers, music from a dj and live band, and see some spoken word performances. The rally always features free food, resources and shirts to spread the Men Can message. Everyone is invited to attend regardless of gender, and we always make it a good time. At this year’s rally we are honoring Dr. Mario Cruz of Philadelphia FIGHT for his work to help end IPV in Philadelphia.

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