For more than ten years, he has worked across our state to put an end to domestic violence, Butch Kennedy is our Everyday Hero.
Working to end domestic violence is a mission for 59-year-old engineer Butch Kennedy and his fiancee Lisa. Rahiem. Kennedy says, “On the average, we’ve had over thirty-eight women murdered every year by their significant other. That’s the man that’s supposed to love them the most.”
Through an organization called Project Unity U.S.A., Kennedy founded REALMAD, Real Men Against Domestic Violence. “REALMAD is Real Men Against Domestic Violence and the real is an acronym because a lot of people have a problem with the real, the “R” stands for resiliency. If you fall get back up. The “E” is for empathy. A lot of men don’t know what it means to be empathetic. It’s a pretty important trait, and the “A” is for accountability. Accept our role and we accept the mistakes we make. We hold ourselves accountable for those. The “I” is for leaders. We are leaders in our community.”
Kennedy says he became motivated to help after he heard the story of survivor Carolyn Thomas. He says, “I look at this woman, and she had her face shot off by her abuser. Her entire face shot off. She called herself the million dollar woman, that’s how much it cost to reconstruct her face, and I remember looking at her, and I would put her picture on my screen saver and every day I would look at her, and that would motivate me in my fight. What really troubled me was the look on her boyfriend’s face after he murdered her mother. He was on trial and he had this smirk on his face. I wondered what it was about him that would make him do something like that? That’s part of the reason why I do what I do.
The leading cause of death and injury to women under forty-five is domestic violence. The person who is the most dangerous person to the woman is the person who she’s in a relationship with, and that’s a hard pill for me to swallow. I know we as men can do better, and that’s what we do, we engage men in that conversation. We ask them to do better. We show them how to do better.”
Kennedy started REALMAD in 2008. “We go all over the state and talk to men about domestic violence. We need to teach men what their role is in ending violence against women. That’s been my platform from day one is ending violence against women. We try to reach out to men and teach them how to walk away from those difficult situations. We teach them about their triggers, and what to do to walk away. We show both pictures. We show men that abuse and we show women that abuse because we work with them both,” says Kennedy.
REALMAD has workshops and offers training for men. They have an annual Hope Walk against domestic violence, and partner with the city of North Charleston for Camp Hope during the summer. They also have a White Ribbon campaign, where they ask men to commit to not condone or remain silent about violence against women. Kennedy says, “I really think we’ve really been impactful because I call domestic violence a silent killer, because no one wanted to talk about it unless it’s happening to them. Men were never talking about it. Now everybody is talking about it more. My hope is one day that South Carolina will be out of the top ten when it comes to states with men that murder women.
REALMAD is funded by donations and fundraisers. For more information about REALMAD, click here https://www.facebook.com/REALMADSC/