GETTING HELP FOR ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR
Help is available for men who want to stop using violence and abuse in their intimate relationships. If you are considering seeking help it is important to get the right type of help. Always seek a specialised men’s domestic violence behaviour change program.
These programs are group programs especially designed for men who are abusive to address their violent and abusive behaviours. They aim to:
- Examine and challenge men's beliefs and attitudes that support violence.
- Examine the effects their violence and abuse has on their partners and their children.
- Examine the impact their violence has had on their own life.
- Teach and practice non-controlling and non-violent alternatives.
Why anger management programs are not suitable for domestic violenceIt is now widely accepted that domestic violence is not about anger but instead it is the abuser’s desire to control his partner through any means that will work. Anger management programs do not address the fundamental causes of domestic violence nor do they focus on the safety of the victim or hold the perpetrator accountable for his violence. They are not appropriate to address domestic violence.
Why couples counselling is not safe with domestic violenceCouples counselling or mediation may sometimes be seen as a way of addressing domestic violence. However there are some significant problems with this type of approach. Couples counselling poses risks to the woman’s safety as she will often be required to discuss the violence whilst the perpetrator is present. Many women have reported being later subjected to physical violence as punishment for speaking out about the abuse during counselling. For any type of counselling to be successful parties present need to be open and honest about what is happening. In domestic violence many women won't feel safe to disclose the abuse and their real feelings because of fear of repercussions.
Finally this approach assumes domestic violence is a relationship problem that is shared between the parties. Domestic violence is where one person uses abuse and violence to exert power and control over the other. Having the victim present in the counselling session is not useful.
The Domestic Violence Prevention Centre Gold Coast Inc. does not support the use of couples counselling, mediation or anger management programs in situations where domestic violence has occurred.
The Domestic Violence Prevention Centre Gold Coast Inc. recommends men seek help from programs that are compliant with the Professional Practice Standards for Working with Men who Perpetrate Domestic Violence.
DV Connect Men’s Line (9 am - 12 midnight, 7 days a week)
1800 600 636
Men’s Line Australia (24 hours)
|1300 798 978|
|Centacare Family and Community Services
|07 5556 9900|
|1300 301 300|
|13 11 14|
|Youth & Family Services (Logan City) Inc.
||07 3208 8199|
|Tweed Family Centre
|07 5524 8711|
A word of caution
Abusive men may be motivated to attend a domestic violence program for many different reasons:
- They may be directed by the Court to attend following a breach of a Domestic Violence Protection Order.
- Pressure from family, friends, employers or others to attend out of concerns about his violent behaviour.
- Some men choose to attend as an attempt to save their relationship believing that if they attend a program their partner will not leave them or she will return with the hope that things will improve.
- Some men seek to stop their violent and abusive behaviour.
Many women are hopeful that once a man is attending a program this will bring an end to the violence and abuse. However it is important to understand that whilst a program can offer a range of supports and opportunities for change it will not be effective unless the man himself wants to change. He must be prepared to challenge himself and work hard at becoming non violent, striving for equality in his relationships. This is a difficult thing to do as it requires challenging his belief systems and identifying the ways in which he gives himself permission to be violent and abusive. Attending or completing a program does not mean he will stop being violent or abusive or that his partner will be safe. Therefore a woman should not stay with him simply because he is attending a program.
Since attendance at a program does not guarantee safety for his partner and children, it is a good idea to keep the safety plans you have made in place and stay in touch with a counsellor from the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre or a women's support and education group.
How will you know if he has changed?
Some indications an abuser is changing his behaviour and taking full responsibility for his actions are:
- Being non-violent, not using violence, abuse, intimidating or controlling behaviours.
- Taking responsibility and not blaming anyone for choosing to use violence or abuse, not making excuses for behaviour such saying he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs or blaming other factors such as loss of employment or other financial pressures.
- Acknowledging past use of violence and admitting being wrong.
- Communicating openly and honestly about his behaviour.
- Supporting his partner's goals and aspirations.
- Respecting her right to her own feelings, friends, activities and opinions.
- Valuing her opinions.
- Not pressuring her to make decisions quickly or to try to take him back.