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      Trading "macho" mentality for compassion to curb domestic violence

      It's a concept Robert De Leon has been thinking of for years now.

      "I just thought bingo, BroModels."

      The regional director for Benchmark Family Services in McAllen works daily to place children into loving foster homes, a majority of which come from a household where domestic violence was present.

      "Since January we've had to remove more than 1,100 children from their homes."

      De Leon supports organizations that work with battered women, but saw a need for a program focusing on changing the mentality of men who eventually end up abusers.

      "The "macho" mentality is what we're trying to change. We're told to "man-up" or "suck it up" when it's actually okay to cry."

      BroModels is what De Leon has been working on for 2 years now and has recruited more than 20 men from across the valley to discuss ways to curb domestic violence and plan a way to execute their mission.

      "We meet once a month and go over ways to get our message to men in the community. "

      He says counseling an abuser after the fact may be too late, that's why BroModels, by being role models, show boys and men how to be compassionate in a relationship so they can grow to respect women and not ever want to lay a hand on them.

      De Leon saw how his mother suffered for years.

      "I saw it with her relationships with my father and then my step-father and I wonder if it would have been different if there had been a program like this available."

      It may seem like a pipe dream to stop domestic violence, but De Leon says if he can get enough men who want to be BroModels, they in turn can get the message out to 10 others and so on, making a dent in a vicious cycle that plagues many homes and leaves thousands of children in the foster care system.

      Family violence and sexual assault reports should be made to police immediately. If you need to make a call for advice, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. There are over 100 staffers who can direct you to a crisis center in the valley or the proper authorities.

      BroModels information can be found at

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