Anyone that has heard me speak in front of a crowd since July 2015 has heard me speak about the important role men play in ending gender-based violence. As a small town mayor who often speaks in front of rotary clubs and chambers of commerce, that consistency has required some nuance, because not every environment lends itself to talking about sexual violence. But I do want to talk about it — widely. Because it’s just that important for us to think about what we can do to end sexual and domestic violence.

In 2016, I can proudly say that the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls joined me and a number of important stakeholder non-profits, academic institutions, and law enforcement to start a campaign to end gender-based violence here in Chester County. It was inspiring to watch Sabina, a West Chester University student, sitting at the same table as the District Attorney of Chester County discussing how crucial it is to act now to make the campus safer. I agree with them.

I’ve seen sexual and domestic violence up close. I’ve cried holding a survivor tight as I prayed for them to be alright. I’ve sat across from the Downingtown police chief demanding that we use every extent of the law to arrest known offenders in our area. At times I’ve felt I haven’t done enough. Other times I’ve been inspired, like when I read the letter from the Stanford survivor and thought now people are paying attention. More people will take action.

What I know is this:

  • In 2015, I ran the New York Marathon for a domestic violence charity, hoping to raise a few dollars for prevention programs and shine a light on gender-based violence.
  • In 2016, I wrote a law for Downingtown requiring all of our police officers to be trained on the resources available to sexual and domestic violence survivors.
  • In 2017, I attended a White House Summit on sexual violence and shared what we are doing in Chester County with leaders from across the country.
  • And today, I don’t feel like we have done nearly enough. Anyone from a student at a local university to a married mother of 3 in Downingtown is still in danger of becoming a victim of these kinds of crimes.

So, I pledge to not give up. I pledge to write more laws. I pledge to raise more money for charity. I pledge to do everything I can as a man, as a mayor and most importantly as human being to end gender-based violence. I ask you to follow our county-wide campaign and get involved. We need your help.


Josh Maxwell is the current mayor of Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

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