Q&A: Dr. Harry Stefanakis on preventing violence in the workplace

By Mariane Gravelle February 17, 201717 February 2017

Q&A: Dr. Harry Stefanakis on preventing violence in the workplace

On March 8, 2017, coinciding with International Women’s Day, the CBA will release its new “Not Just a Bystander” Podcast, which is presented by the Women Lawyers Forum in collaboration with various CBA National Sections and the CCCA. This new podcast builds off of the Forum’s recent #WriteYourWrong campaign, through which individuals were encouraged to anonymously submit stories of their encounters with sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace, and strives to continue the discussion on this important issue and examine what lawyers, clients, and the community can do to fix this problem.

As part of a weekly series leading up to the release of the podcast, we’ve spoken with each of the podcast’s panelists about their efforts to end sexual harassment and violence. This week’s Q&A is with Dr. Harry Stefanakis, a psychologist and educator in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Dr. Stefanakis is an active participant in programs seeking to end violence in relationships and workplaces, and he has appeared in the video “Men Speak Up: Ending Violence Together”.

National: What motivated you to become involved in programs seeking to end violence in relationships and workplaces?

Dr. Harry Stefanakis: I read an article while in graduate school, about teenage boys abusing younger teenage girls. The article included comments from fathers saying it was no big deal “boys will be boys.” The idea that masculinity was associated with abuse did not sit well with me and I began to explore ways to redefine masculinity and I also wanted to address men’s use of violence in an intelligent and compassionate way instead of replicating abusive interaction with the “bad men”.

N: How long have you been involved with these programs?

HS: I’ve been involved with these programs for 25 years.

N: What impact do you feel these types of programs have had on our communities?

HS: These programs are having a positive impact on changing men’s lives and keeping women safe. There is a dearth of programs and resources however and so the impact is nowhere near what we need it to be.

N: As a psychologist and an educator, what else do you think still needs doing to get to the root of this problem?

HS: The problem is multidimensional and needs to be addressed at multiple levels. This means prevention and intervention initiatives along with policy initiatives. It also means that we need to look at the problem as a biopsychosocial phenomenon and step away from “either or” thinking. There are biological and psychological aspects to men’s use of violence against women AND this occurs in a context of inequality and in which power dynamics unfold.

N: Why was it important for you to be involved in this podcast?

HS: Education and prevention are an essential component of creating social change. We can all, including men, become part of the solution. I wanted to invite men to find a positive voice and to support the men and women in their lives to live violence free.

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