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Domestic Violence – Shan Foster


I’m sure many of you watched the Super Bowl this year and are ready for the excitement of the NBA and NHL Playoffs. This is certainly a peak time of year for sports. I recently saw a video of Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots that caught my attention. He remained positive and demonstrated tremendous resilience and perseverance while facing the largest deficit his team had seen all season. No team playing in the Super Bowl had ever come back from a 25-point deficit in the history of the NFL. I was not surprised to see Julian’s positive attitude, but what did amaze me was his choice of words. While still trailing by at least three touchdowns and a field goals to the NFL’s leading offense, Julian told his teammates, “This is going to be one hell of a story.”

Wow! Most people wait until the momentum changes or the score gets a little closer before they outwardly express that kind of belief. But not Julian. This is what he said in what seemed to be defeat.

Watching the game, we all witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sports. And if we’re honest, most of us didn’t believe what Julian did. We simply didn’t think they could do it.

Like the Patriots, MEND has quite the lofty goal to make Nashville the safest city in the nation for women and girls. And, just like in the Patriots in the first three quarters of Super Bowl LI (or 51), many don’t think we have a chance. Some feel defeated when they look at the big screen and see the numbers.

  • 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime
  • 1 in 5 women will experience sexual abuse before they are 18 years old
  • 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted or raped in college
  • 3 women are killed each day by a man
  • Metro Nashville Police officers respond to a domestic violence call every 20 minutes
  • Tennessee ranks 9th in the nation for the rate at which men kill women

Like Julian, I’m not oblivious to the numbers, but I also can’t ignore what else I see. When I look around Nashville, I see men who are committed to change. I see men who have stepped up to join women to end this violence. I see men who will hold other men accountable. And I see men who believe. Men who believe that violence is a learned behavior that can be changed. Men who believe that women are to be valued and respected. Men who believe that we can teach young men and boys a new definition of manhood. Men who believe in the power of love.

Therefore, in the end, we win. Not just we as men, but we as people. Men and women, boys and girls, together. It won’t happen overnight, just like it didn’t happen in one quarter for the Patriots. If we remain committed, persistent, and believe, then we will see a day when those numbers change. We will see the day when women and girls are not only safe, but valued and respected. We will see the day when men and boys are free from stereotypes and the “boys will be boys” expectation will mean that boys will be respectful, loving, and kind! On that day, we all win! So, let’s #MENDit2Endit!


About the Author

Shan FosterShan Foster, Sr. Director of External Affairs and MEND, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee

Shan Foster has served as the MEND Director since spring 2015. Shan graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human and Organizational Development in 2008. During his time at Vanderbilt, Shan was named SEC Men’s Basketball Player of the year and is Vanderbilt University’s all-time leading scorer. Shan was drafted into the NBA in 2008 and was inducted to the Tennessee Hall of Fame in 2009. Recently, Shan was honored as SEC Legend at the 2016 SEC Basketball Tournament. Prior to his work at YWCA, Shan served as Dean of Culture for the Intrepid College Preparatory Charter School, where he now serves on the board of directors.