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FMS Foundations: with John Sutherland

Over the next few weeks, we're looking at First Man Standing, exploring in a series of interviews how it came to be and what the journey ahead might look like. The series will mix passion and action with the knowledge and experience of some leading voices in the area of male violence towards women and men's ministry within the UK church.

It was a real privilege to interview John Sutherland, a former policeman, author and speaker this week. We explore male violence against women, why it might happen and the impact it has. You can read a summary below, or catch up on the whole video.

Gaz: Too often, men can see domestic abuse as a women's issue. But actually it's a men's issue... Can you share with us about the realities of male violence in general?

John: Gosh, how long have we got! It's one of the biggest questions we could be asking ourselves as a society, and particularly as men in society... violence against women is a male problem. Too often, we find ourselves talking about the things women should be doing in order to keep themselves safe. The questions we should be asking are not whether it's safe for women to go out late at night, but what on earth are men doing going out at night committing violence and sexual offences. We're far too much of the time looking through the wrong end of the telescope... If anyone is sitting listening to this, as a bloke, and thinking 'it's not my problem'... it is your problem, it's all of our problems.

Gaz: How do we begin to prevent violence against women?

John: The are absolute practical, definite things we can do. Whatever the question, the answer is relationships. Human beings are born connected. Literally, umbilically connected to our mothers... We're meant to be connected, and we're meant to stay connected. When disconnection occurs, problems arise. What we need to do for and with young men is reconnect them... Find a way to reconnect [young people] with all that's good. For every story with an unhappy ending, I can tell you a story with a happy ending... So often it's as a consequence of the love of people who were previously strangers.

Gaz: We need to go away from these conversations... and realise we need to say something about it.

John: We need to change what we do, how we behave, but before we do that, we need to change how we speak, what we say. And before even we do that we need to change how we think, what our attitudes are. And those three things are all part of a continuum: how we think, how we speak, how we act. And we need to demand better of one another at every level. At every single point along the way. It's never just harmless banter, it's utterly toxic, and destructive, and it has no place in society.