The seed bed of violence in our society is the family. The major but not sole perpetrators of that violence are usually male partners. I acknowledge that in lesbian relationships and some heterosexual relationships that women appear to perpetuate the violence, I am still trying to make sense of victims victimising victims and that will be an ongoing journey for me. What I do see everyday in my work with families is the effects of male violence that devastates and is based on attitudes of male superiority over women and ownership by men of the women and children who live with them.
There are two major reasons.
The first is that we have few Australian Pages that address these important issues. It is a major Australian problem that is not confined by class, colour or cultural boundaries. I believe these issues need to be addressed locally, even though the truths may be the same the world over. I think that we may have to address them in ways that address this culture, and in ways that go beyond a white middle class response.
Secondly I believe that until men are held responsible for their behaviour within the home that we will not ever achieve reductions in levels of domestic violence. At a recent conference the cry went up that Domestic Violence was not abating. I believe that the reasons for this are becoming very clear.
Men are being charged with the crime of domestic violence(great), they are being sent to prison (I suppose that satisfies the revenge and justice aspects), the victims are being educated in survival, healing and personal growth strategies, (The more this happens the better), but for those who have not experienced domestic violence and for future generations there is no overarching strategy to change the attitudes that underpin relationships between men and women in our society. Children grow up watching the adults in their lives, current startegies in vogue politically in Australia mean that children only see changes in their, and their mothers circumstances when adult male figures in their lives leave following domestic violence. Often the same males appear again and the violence continues, or a new adult male comes on the scene and the violence continues. Girl children come to believe that relating to men is a violent experience, while boy children model the heritage left to them by a society that does not call on their adult males to change their attitudes and behaviour.
Perpetrators of domestic violence, usually men, need to be given and take up the opportunity of learning new attitudes and behaviors for relationships. If this does not become an integral part of societies response to domestic violence, we can expect the pool of victims to increase as violent men move on to new relationships and perpetuate similar atrocities with a new partner or family.
Perpetrator Programs attempt to address this important component of an holistic response to domestic violence.
Before perpetrator programs, most men believed they did the crime and then did the time, and that was the end of it. If their original partner did not want them back then they just moved on. There was no challenge by society to look at the world in a different way, no ongoing consequences of violent behaviour.
Since the advent of perpetrator programs a number of things have become possible. For example:
1. some relationships have been retrieved, (though it must be emphasised that this is not a focus of perpetrator programs).
2. men have been given the opportunity to re-evaluate the way they view the world and conduct their intimate relationships. Not in the form of a debate but as an educational program that is both prescriptive and challenging.
3. the police and judicial system have an alternative or a supplementary option to just placing men into an environment that will perpetuate violence rather than ameliorate it.
I don't know but to me any increase in options is positive and so I unashamedly promote perpetrator programs as a way of addressing domestic violence issues but also as a leading edge child protection initiative.
On this site we will be addressing some of the issues that make perpetrators programs so contraversal. Such as:
1. reductions in victim funding that can flow from the establishment of perpetrator programs.
2. the so called secondary victims and the importance of meeting their needs. I want to thank Liza Baggio for pointing out the way in which that term, secondary victims, depreciates the trauma that children experience. Liza is a therapist from Vancouver, Canada, who works with children who survive Domestic Violence in a program called "Children Who Witness Violence".
3. the victim industry, how profitable is it to keep people as victims.
I hope in the coming months we can entice you into joining us for some interesting discussion.
As a taste of some of the things we will be publishing on this site please feel free to look at a tool we call the safety plan. We have several you can look at and download:
a) One is for women experiencing domestic violence. Put out originally by the Nashville Police Dept. I am adapting it for Australian conditions, my original adaptation was for NZ conditions, for those in other parts of the world the original can be found at Nashville Police Department Safety Plan for Women To access the adapted safety plan for you follow the appropriate link:
1) Women's Safety Plan (NZ Version)
2) Women's Safety Plan (AUS Version)
b) A safety plan for men who have been abusive. This plan indicates that with changed behaviour violence can be reduced, and eventaully stopped. The safety plan is the end result of much work and many critical decisions on the part of the perpetrator. Without that work it will not be effective, the safety plan for perpetrators is not a stand alone tool for abusive men, but is offered to show what can be achieved, if a man is prepared to be challenged.
When I run courses for violent men the safety plan comes at the end of the 10 week change program and it provides a tool for men during the 12 month 1st stage maintenence program.
Access the safety plan by following the link, Perpetrators Safety Plan.
One of the major debates that we will encounter if we are promoting the establishment of perpetrator programs is how successful are they in reducing all forms of domestic violence, as well as the means by which they measure success. Well some good news is that here in Australia we are in the throes of a major evaluation being ndertaken by Alan Jenkins, author of "Invitations to Responsibility" a standard text for anyone working in the area of male violence. Alan will be considering the efficacy and cost benefit of all our responses to domestic violence Australia wide.
Also take a look at the Relationships Australia link. Relationships are major providers of programs addressing this issue.
I've also added a link to a NZ site which contains a book written by Colin Illes which give an anecdotal report on the success of programs he was associated with. You can download sample chapters of the book or purchase direct from Colin in down-loadable form or myself in bound version. Leave a message on my guest book, or send me an email if you would like a copy, the price is $13.50ADMaterial for children who are also primary victims of domestic violence is still pretty scarce, but I've started to collect material that could be useful, follow the forgotten victims link.
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11, Kookora St.,
Griffith, NSW 2680