People often ask: ‘How can you work with men who perpetrate Domestic Violence?’
These comments usually reflect a widely held belief that such men are not worthy of any support because they are violent to women. However, if working with these men reduces the risk of further violence while assisting women and their children to feel safe in their home, then why aren’t we trying to do everything in our power to intervene with violent men?
Working With the Man – a behavioural change program for men who have or are at risk of being violent to women.
Because the majority of violence against women is perpetrated by men, exploring men’s attitudes towards violence and women are crucial towards being held accountable for such violence. For this reason, anyone entering into the Working With the Man (WWM) program must acknowledge their behaviour is unacceptable and they need to make changes in the way they deal with conflict. These men will be required to examine and transform their attitudes towards violence, towards women, towards children and towards people in general.
A core element in the development of our perpetrator program has been the intention to help men identify and unlearn violent behaviours and prevailing attitudes while learning to deal with their anger and negative emotions in alternative, non-violent ways. We focus on the man’s personal, interpersonal and social spheres that will serve as a foundation to the building blocks of long-term, sustainable change.
A key element towards achieving success in the WWM program is tailoring an individualised approach to clients, including case formulations, case planning and counselling approaches. Every client is encouraged and supported to take responsibility for their violent and controlling behaviour.
What I have discovered from working with men who have been successful in overcoming tendencies towards committing violence is that they have all identified the need to be educated about what abuse really is (physical, verbal, emotional, controlling and attitudinal). The other crucial aspect of WWM is the practitioner being able to unfailingly challenge the tendency for men to deny and/or minimise their destructive behaviours. Men require a vision of what all this work on themselves will mean for them – better relationships with partners and children, more intimacy, more wholeness, healed masculinity, better lives.
Do I think that violent men can change? I do this work because it is possible. It’s possible that men can be held accountable for their violent behaviours and attitudes that support and excuse such behaviour. It’s possible that men can be challenged, men can listen and men can bring about change that is meaningful for themselves and those around them. It’s possible because I have seen it happen in the WWM program. WWM is a program that helps men make it possible to live non-violent lives.
COORDINATOR / SENIOR PRACTITIONER
INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE PREVENTION INITIATIVE.