David Eggins, of TEMPER Domestic Violence, a service that works with both male and female perpetrators, explains why it's crucial to move beyond a gender-based understanding of the issue.
-- This is article #88 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
Twenty years ago last September Ms Sandra Horley, CEO of REFUGE spoke on the subject of domestic violence at a conference in Northampton, organised by Women’s Aid. Her message was “violent men will not change, the only thing for a woman to do is to leave.”
As one of a number of RELATE delegates there I was appalled at her disparaging comments about men and their inability, in her view, to change. My own experience as a man and of men was that virtually all men are able to change and I almost immediately knew of various methods to help men change which needed to be welded into a programme.
A number of the other delegates there were similarly struck. We resolved there and then to build a programme to address these problems.
Both men and women need help
The policy of stopping and preventing violence to women and girls sat very easily with me with all the chivalrous stuff that I’d been brought up with. But counselling work I’d been doing in RELATE in the early 90's, clearly indicated that not only some men could be violent to women, but also some women could be violent to men, too, and deceitful and manipulative, just like some men.
The course we devised focussed on bringing about change by learning new skills and developing people's greater awareness of themselves, particularly when getting out of their own control – more usually in those days it was called “anger management”: we would now call it “emotional regulation”, setting the work in a therapeutic context. We had been trained largely in psychodynamic methods of counselling and systems theory and personally I’d learnt a great deal about myself from “experiential exercises” which usually meant “activity”.
We’ve found virtually no difficulty about working with men and women in mixed groups – and, unlike Duluth, we’ve found most of the men very well motivated, and the women no less so. But, of course, the national policy is “preventing violence to women and girls”, so working with women is utterly, utterly frowned upon, not that we knew that at the time.
'Statistics tell their own truth'
We ignore it now for the nonsense that it truly is; the statistics tell their own truth, women are now thought to be responsible for between 20% and 40% of domestic violence, depending on whether you believe government statistics or Women’s Aid’s!
So what else have we learnt? Well, The Duluth programme, a “perpetrator programme” “a DVPP” was designed to address the problems seen by women in their violent men. The problems they saw were, of course, all to do with patriarchy and men’s “sense of entitlement” to dominate everything, particularly women. So therefore you couldn’t work with women who couldn’t be patriarchs, and of course there is no real violence in lesbian relationships or in gay relationships, because that would mess up the whole patriarchy theory on which the work has to be based!
For our part, we just saw people, in whatever relationship, that needed help to recognise and change their behaviours. Men take revenge on women that displease them was what “they” said. Women finally retaliate against men who are coercive controllers. Those are the “official” or strived-for views. All men are liars and have to be disbelieved, for example male victims are really in most cases really abusers. All women tell the truth, a woman who claims to be an abuser has really just not understood her role as a victim of men’s previous violence, and she needs to learn that.
Why ignore violence to boys?
Twenty years ago REFUGES were in short supply. They are now plentiful. The practice of moving a woman as far away as possible with her daughter(s) from her (potentially) murderous man (for which read all men!) is now being slowly contradicted by local authorities, recognising that moving women and girls into refuges far away from their own support networks meant they were “locked up” in a different, dependent relationship.
The average of two women per week being killed by a partner or former partner (of 15.2m women in intimate relationships) is well known. Female deaths are down this year to 78 (claimed as progress, of course – despite a similar earlier one year “blip” and subsequent re-bound.) And the number of children killed in domestic violence scenarios? It averages about 60, but not one of 25 professionals I asked at a recent conference knew that! Why would they? It deflects from the feminist message!
“Preventing violence to women and girls”? Why would preventing violence to boys be ignored? After all, according to feminist theory (all) boys will be the next male abusers. But from whom and how and where are they learning that abuse, that learned behaviour? From disenfranchised and absent fathers, of course! Where else?
“I’ll box your ears, my lad!”
Very sadly there is only a half a platoon that knows about this state of affairs! At least a small army is needed; your country needs you!
Our nation’s children need the wisdom and action that men can bring to the agenda, and we need it soon. Money is also needed. How is it that the CEO alone of a smallish women’s charity can earn more, about four-times more, than the total money devoted to two national charities supporting mainly men? Some things simply do not add up.
Picture credit: Cambridgeshire Police
TEMPER! Domestic Violence works with domestic abusers, both men and women in mixed gender groups with a therapeutic thread. To find out more visit their website here
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men's Day 2014 by clicking on this link---#100Voices4Men---and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
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