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Pittsburgh leaders sign pledge to end domestic violence - The Pitt News

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Pittsburgh leaders sign pledge to end domestic violence

Chancellor+Patrick+Gallagher+responds+to+recent+allegation+about+sexual+harassment+and+discrimination+that+might+have+taken+place+more+than+a+decade+ago+in+Pitt%27s+communications+department.
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher responds to recent allegation about sexual harassment and discrimination that might have taken place more than a decade ago in Pitt's communications department.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher responds to recent allegation about sexual harassment and discrimination that might have taken place more than a decade ago in Pitt's communications department.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher responds to recent allegation about sexual harassment and discrimination that might have taken place more than a decade ago in Pitt's communications department.

By Alexa Bakalarski / News Editor

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Allegheny County had the highest amount of domestic violence fatalities in Pennsylvania for the third year in a row in 2015, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s 2015 Domestic Violence Fatality Report.

On Friday afternoon, Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald joined their names to more than 1,200 signatures in the hopes of changing that.

More than 100 civic and corporate leaders, elected officials and supporters gathered at the Allegheny County Courthouse Courtyard for the second annual Father’s Day Public Pledge Signing Event. Southwest PA Says No More — an initiative of the FISA Foundation, The Heinz Endowments and United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania — organized the event. The pledge aims to help end domestic violence, gendered violence and sexual assault.

Kristy Trautmann, the executive director of the FISA foundation, said a man at an event recently asked her how signing the pledge prevents domestic violence.

“The truth is, it doesn’t. There’s nothing magic about signing a piece of paper,” Trautmann said. “What is magic is living the pledge in each of our lives, doing concrete things to really make a difference.”

Fitzgerald and Alison Hall, President and CEO of United Way of Southern Pennsylvania and Executive Director of Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, spoke at the pledge signing, which was emceed by WTAE news anchor Sally Wiggin. Gallagher delivered the keynote address.

“At one level, it’s regrettable that we even have to have this kind of session … because this is about something that should never happen,” Gallagher said. “This is about violence inflicted upon one another for no other reason than a person’s gender — and in some cases their gender identity.”

Trautmann said that while mothers have been brought together as a force of social change and ending violence, the same hasn’t happened with fathers — which is why the public pledge happens near Father’s Day.

“I think we have, as a culture, not very successfully tapped into men as powerful positive change agents,” Trautmann said. “We recognize that there are really good fathers and there are people who want to be better fathers than what they have.”

The Allegheny County Courthouse was filled with figures with stories of domestic abuse on them. Kate Koenig | Visual Editor

Southwest PA Says No More currently has 25 partner organizations, including Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh.
Chris Herman, the project manager from Mentors in Violence Prevention — a partner of the FISA Foundation, said MVP works to change men’s mentalities about gender stereotypes and roles.

“Men should be at the forefront of these issues because most acts of gendered violence are committed by men,” Herman said. “It’s a mentality that we as men need to change in our society. Many of the men [who were trained by MVP] are out in the field doing the work, working with boys and with men in prison to change stereotypes, to change behavior, to change the conversation altogether.”

Beginning June 2015, MVP trained 34 men for six months about preventing violence in their communities — specifically preventing gendered violence — with a series of workshops. Afterwards, the men participate in events such as the Father’s Day pledge and teach others in their communities.

After the speakers, several business and civic leaders in Pittsburgh, such as UPMC Executive Vice President Greg Peaslee and City Councilman Corey O’Connor, signed a large banner of the pledge.

Grant Oliphant, the president of the Heinz Endowments, said he disagreed with Trautmann on one thing: that there was no magic in signing the pledge.

“I actually believe this is the only magic we have,” Oliphant said. “It starts with us and it starts with what we say and it starts with what we do. So this is the magic we have. This moment is the magic you have to bring into the world to change the thing that we’re talking about.”

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Pittsburgh leaders sign pledge to end domestic violence