Content warning: this article mentions violence against women and girls in the context of prevention.

I have experienced or witnessed something traumatic.

The past year has seen a distressing number of cases where women have been murdered by a man. In March, after the murder of Sarah Everard, Labour MP Jess Philips read out a long of all the women murdered since March of the previous year, in the silence of the House of Commons, the overwhelming impact of violence against women and girls seared like an open wound, as the list went past the three minute mark, and then the fourth, and then the fifth.

“Dead women is a thing we have all just accepted as part of our daily lives” Jess Philips

Currently, two women a week are killed in England and Wales by a current or ex-partner. Violence against women and girls perpetrated by men is endemic in our society and the impact of which, on mental health and wellbeing, many don’t feel or process until their late adulthood.

Just some of the names mentioned in Jess Philips’ speech were Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman and Sarah Everard. More recently, another name to add to that list is that of Sabina Nessa, a teacher who was simply walking to meet a friend.

“It has to change! Now! And ALL MEN have to engage to make that happen. Or it never will.”

In response to this shocking string of murders, actor Ian Bartholomew of Coronation Street teamed up with his wife and director, Loveday Ingram as well as actor, Christopher Sherwood to create the film All Men, to encourage a stance of responsibility among men and to spread the message that it is men who must help change the society women live in.

The film features 14 British actors including: Jim Carter, of Downton Abbey fame, Don Gilet, from Eastenders, Jason Watkins and Tim McInnerney. Women’s Aid Ambassadors Toby Alexander-Smith, and Bill Ward also feature, both of whom have played perpetrators of abuse in Eastenders and Coronation Street – and who worked closely with Women’s Aid on their roles to ensure the depiction of their character was made responsibly.

Ian Bartholomew, the man behind the film also released a charity single ‘This Time it’s Forever’ to raise money for Women’s Aid.

The message at the heart of the film is to emphasise that all men do have a responsibility to stand in opposition against the violence women and girls experience in their daily lives. This doesn’t mean accusing all men, and it certainly doesn’t mean that all men abuse women. However, in light of the trauma brought to the forefront of so many women’s minds due to high profile cases such as, Sarah Everard’s and Sabina Nessa’s, the message of this film couldn’t be more pertinent.

Speaking on his motivation to make All Men, Ian Bartholomew has said:

“This is a response to #NotAllMen. Of course, not all men abuse, rape or murder women, but ALL men need to take responsibility for changing the behaviours and beliefs of those that do. Women are being murdered on our streets and as men, we have to change our behaviour and as a society we urgently need to address the problem and put an end to violence against women and girls. What sort of world do we live in where citizens of this country can't walk the streets without the fear of being raped or killed? That's not the world I want to live in.”

He continued, “It's time the government and the police stepped up to make violence against women and girls a thing of the past. It’s time men changed their attitudes and behaviours to consign it to the history books. In this patriarchal society, women are plainly considered as second-class citizens, and treated as such. It has to change! Now! And ALL MEN have to engage to make that happen. Or it never will.”

Finally, speaking on this pertinence of All Men and the recent collective trauma that has been so prominent these past seven months, Farah Nazeer, CEO of Women’s Aid said: ““During a time where women are experiencing extreme collective pain and fear, it is hopeful to see this group of influential men come together to help bring about the change we are calling for. All men have a vital part to play: they must come together and reflect on their ideas around masculinity and sexist and misogynistic views. They must take ownership of ending violence against women and challenge themselves and others to do better. Everybody has a role to play and everybody has a responsibility to act now to end violence against women and girls.”

Women’s Aid have also put together a list of guidance addressing and encouraging all men, to take action now:

What can All Men do?

  • We can confront sexist behaviour and sexist comments we might witness amongst friends or colleagues rather than laughing it off as friendly banter.
  • We can take responsibility for our male friends who are abusive or controlling in their relationships. We have a tendency to turn a blind eye or explain it away as none of our business. It is our business and we should have the courage to confront it.
  • We can educate younger men who look up to us about domestic abuse, healthy relationships and healthy attitudes towards women.
  • We can learn about what does and does not constitute abuse so that we are better able to recognise it either in ourselves or others. Find a helpful resource on abuse here.
  • We can examine our own relationships with women and question whether or not they are in any way controlling, coercive, abusive, violent, and then takes steps to address this.
  • We can report people we know to the police for abusive or controlling behaviour in acknowledgement of the fact that often the women don't feel able to do it themselves.
  • If we know women who are being abused we can discretely help them gather evidence of the abuse in case it may be of use later down the line in a court of law, even if they don't feel able to report the issue at that point in time.
  • We can donate money. Life-saving domestic abuse service are severely underfunded and there is a major shortage of space in the UK's limited domestic abuse refuges. Any money you can afford to give will be gratefully received. You can donate here.

This film, and the guidance featured above from Women’s Aid is just one part of the first step that we must take as a society to begin shifting the responsibility from women: how they might protect themselves from violence and trauma, and onto men: how they might change their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours to make the world women walk in, safer.

Watch All Men here.

f you need any support in relation to the topics discussed in this article, Women's Aid also provide a live chat service with a support worker, you can find out more, here.