By Seth Gonzales
Special to The Texas Catholic
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell joined Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, city and state officials, local celebrities and thousands of men from across the Dallas/Fort Worth area March 23 to kick off the inaugural Dallas Men Against Abuse rally, held in front of city hall in downtown Dallas.
Bishop Farrell led the crowd in prayer to begin the event.
“Good and gracious God, we lift up our hearts to you in prayer and gratitude for the many men of Dallas who come together today to take a stand against domestic abuse and all forms of violence,” Bishop Farrell said. “Heavenly Father, we especially pray for all the victims of domestic abuse. We ask that you bless them with the courage to leave their dangerous environment and to seek help.”
Rawlings praised those who were in attendance, despite cold, rainy weather.
“This is amazing that the men of Dallas are excited about something that’s not about sports,” Rawlings said. ”It’s great because we understand just how serious of an issue this is. You can call a guy a lot of things, but if he hits a woman, you cannot call him a man.”
Rawlings, who earlier this month was among many who spoke to the United Nations in New York City about the problem of violence against women, noted that Dallas is fast becoming the nation’s leader in confronting domestic violence.
“We are here to say, enough is enough,” Rawlings said.
Among local celebrities, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach spoke to the crowd and implored victims of domestic abuse to come forward and receive help.
“I think they need to know there are places for victims to go,” Staubach said. “It’s amazing that we have to have this rally. Hopefully the message today is that there is absolutely no excuse for hitting a woman.”
Among those in the crowd listening to the star-studded lineup of speakers were nearly 60 students from Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas, President Mike Earsing and Principal Thomas Garrison. Senior Hayden Tompkins said the rally hit home for him and many of his friends.
“I thought this was an opportunity to stand up for an issue that affects a lot of people,” said Tompkins, who said he was himself a witness to domestic violence in his own family.
As founder and director of the Not for Sale club at Jesuit, teacher Katie Guinn said she wanted to make sure her students understood the parallels between domestic abuse and human trafficking, an issue the club works to confront on a domestic and international level.
“The methods that a pimp uses to control his victims are the same ones that a domestic violence perpetrator uses against his victims,” said Guinn, whose students recently joined her during a trip to Washington, D.C. and spoke to the Department of Education about the club and the issues it works to address. “(Perpetrators) make victims feel like they don’t have anybody else, like they are the only ones who love them.”
Earsing, who has two daughters, said he wanted the students to understand the urgency of addressing domestic violence and the importance of treating women with respect and dignity.
“It’s important for us that boys understand how to treat their girlfriends, and ultimately how to treat their wives,” said Earsing. “This is not something that only happens in a far-off country. It happens right here in the United States.”