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DO BATTERER COUNSELING PROGRAMS WORK?

Cover of

Cover of The Batterer: A Psychological Profile

By Terry Loving

“Critics say the problem with the programs is that they ignore research linking domestic violence to substance abuse and psychological problems, such as attachment disorders, traced to childhood abuse or neglect.”

“But the protocol stresses that substance abuse is not the cause of domestic violence. And it prohibits the programs from stressing therapy, including couples counseling, as treatment.

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I suspect many abused women would happily remain with the men that beat them if they could just get some help and change. Not every abused man or woman desires to end their marriage or relationship. There are a lot of “good” qualities that their abusers possess – according to the abused – thus, it is difficult to view their abusers as total jerks that take pleasure in hurting them.

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As well as our religious institutions, many mental health agencies are ill-equipped to deal with the onslaught of abusers within our society. Often times, a judge may order an abuser to attend domestic violence and abuse programs. But do they really rehabilitate violent tempers, and bring peace to homicidal-raging souls? Do the programs address inner pain, childhood abuse, substance abuse, spiritual issues, and financial problems – in other words – the full dynamics of what makes up a person’s complete character? Can these programs promise that a batterer will not repeat the violence that landed him in jail in the first place?

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I am not knocking the hard work that many professionals and religious folk utilize to change violent and abusive behaviors – I just want to know if their methods work. Are there any testimonials that other batterers can be encouraged by to know that change is possible for them as well? Does one size fit all? What will it take for change? Have any batterers gone back to being violent and abusive after attending a program?

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“The stakes are high: One large study found that the most important reason for a victim to take an abuser back was his decision to attend one of these intervention programs.” 1

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“Peter Diessel fidgeted as he sat at a table with other men who had physically abused women. It was his latest attempt to change behavior that stretches back 18 years. His problem, he told the group, had surfaced shortly after his honeymoon.”

“That’s when I started getting abusive,” Diessel said later, recalling the moment when he first violently laid hands on his wife.”

“Diessel, 42, a long-married suburban businessman, has sought a variety of professional help. He said substance-abuse treatment made him stop physically abusing his wife.

But their relationship hasn’t improved, even with couples counseling and his involvement in the Rolling Meadows program, which he signed up for at her urging.

“Changing the way you think, you perceive, you react, is very difficult,” he said.

His wife, Denise, said their relationship has gotten worse since Diessel entered the batterer intervention program. She doubts any treatment can improve their relationship.

“I’m starting to think there’s no hope,” she said.” 2

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The above quote brings out a very good point. Can a couple go back to “happily ever after” once the batterer completes a mandated/volunteer program? According to “Denise,” their relationship had gotten “worst” although her husband stopped hitting her. Could it be that much damage was done to the relationship? Love diminished? Could it be that the husband – once enlightened – was consumed with guilt for his actions? Could it be that the abused will always be on guard – and never able to freely be themselves in the relationship again due to fear?

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If couples counseling possibly places the abused at risk for more abuse, when does the abused get to tell their story? How will the batterer know how the abused really feels? If they get separate counseling, will the issues that plague their relationship get resolved? Both are in need of some type of counseling, but it is often dangerous for the abused to expose events of the violence and abuse beyond closed doors. How does the healing begin?

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“At the recent gathering in Rolling Meadows, the men ranged in age from the early 20s to middle-age. They sat around a table while the female facilitators prodded them to discuss conflict in their relationships. Some were eager to share; others stared at the ceiling or picked at their nails.”

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If Christians believe that the Word of God is life changing, and I for one believe it is – then why aren’t there more Christian churches involved with eliminating domestic violence and abuse from our society? Could it be that most religious bodies haven’t figured out how to combat this evil amongst them first? Concerning the religious institutions that are on the front lines, are they effective? If not, why not?

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Once a batterer enters a program, will he be honest concerning his feelings and his actions? Will he man-up and admit that he has a problem – or does he see the cause of his anger issues outside of himself? It is no secret that abusers will lie and makes excuses for their behavior. Not only will they lie to their partners, but to society – and even to themselves. Here are some of the lies they tell, and excuses for violence and abuse:

  • “I just need to be understood.”
  • “I had a bad childhood.”
  • “I can’t control it.”
  • “I get angry.”
  • “She fights too.”
  • “She pushes my buttons.”
  • “If I don’t control her, she will control me.”
  • “My smashing things isn’t abusive, it’s venting.”
  • “I have a lot of stress in my life.”
  • “I just have an anger management problem.”
  • “I just have a problem when I drink or use drugs.”3

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In conclusion, domestic violence is not a mental health issue. If mental health professionals were to conclude such findings, then they serve to justify every flimsy excuse for this atrocity. Domestic violence is a SIN issue, and the sooner our society recognizes this fact, the sooner we will be able to put together the necessary all-encompassing programs that will address the needs of those who are violent and abusive. Perhaps there will be more agencies working together with faith-based institutions.

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I don’t believe that addressing the abusive adult, and ignoring the childhood that shapes a person is beneficial. Also, one cannot force God and spiritual beliefs upon another, yet – how can we leave out the spiritual side of mankind when addressing social ills? We didn’t magically appear upon the earth and poof, here we are – we were created by an awesome Creator. How can we ignore the soul when it is a part of our created bodies?

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New American Standard Bible (©1995)
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

New International Version (©1984)
The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

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New American Standard Bible (©1995)
“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.

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Our souls are responsible for thought, actions, decisions, feelings, anger, sadness, happiness, ego and our characters. The Bible says the “soul who sins” is basically saying, the “person” who sins “will die.” So, unless batterer counseling and intervention programs include the spiritual side of mankind, they won’t be effective – at least in the long run. There will be some who will cease to batter; however, this is not the norm. Even if the battering stops, many soul issues with go unaddressed, and the possibility of the battering returning is quite possible.

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God fashioned us to be humans that have a physical body that houses our spirit (eternal side), and our souls that are groomed, taught, sinned against, trained, and possess all of our feelings and actions. How can we ignore such a vital part of rehabilitation? Domestic violence counseling will fail, not because the programs are no good, but because they lack all of the major components that address the whole of the abusers. The power to change begins with repentance – repenting to a Holy God, and acknowledging wrong. When we agree with God that we have sinned, only then can we open our arms to change – and the healing will commence. What we learn, we can un-learn. It may take time, but, with God – all things are possible.

REPENTANCE = ACCOUNTABILITY

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1 http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-abusers-02-jan02,0,1147422.story

2 http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-abusers-02-jan02,0,1147422.story?page=2

3 http://www.acadv.org/abusers.html

http://www.spiritual-side-of-domestic-violence.org

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“Even in programs considered to be successful, only a small percentage of men who batter will ever stop abusing.”Lundy Bancroft

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NEW YORK MODEL FOR BATTERER PROGRAMS

“It’s NOT What You Think!”

“Men can change. However, batterer programs are not an effective vehicle.”

“…batterer programs don’t reliably work. At best, results are inconclusive. And those programs that purport to achieve some individual change indicate, by their own admission that “successes” are few and far between. What batterer programs do give, unfortunately, is a false sense of security that a man will be fixed simply because he is enrolled in a program.”

“Focusing on ‘fixing,’ ‘treating’ or ‘rehabilitating’ men who are abusive inevitably detracts energy and resources better placed on changing systems, social norms and community response efforts.”

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“Treatment’ or ‘rehabilitation’ suggests individual pathology.
The NY Model does not define domestic violence as an individual pathology but rather as a manifestation of sexism, deeply rooted in the history, law and culture of the United States. Furthermore, centuries of patriarchy have defined men’s relationship to women in terms of ownership and entitlement, making it men’s right and responsibility to control the woman who is “his,” and to use a wide array of strategies to do so.”

THE RAVE PROJECT ONLINE LEARNING

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IS HE REALLY GOING TO CHANGE THIS TIME?

Couples Counseling Won’t Stop His Violence

“Your partner may try to get you to go to couples counseling, telling you that you both have a problem and should work on it together. Couples counseling is never appropriate when one partner is choosing to use violence against the other. You do not have a “relationship” problem that needs to be addressed – he is using violence and coercion to get what he wants. Couples counseling can only work when both partners feel free to express their issues, concerns and desires freely. If one partner exerts power and control over the other, there is no basis for counseling that is free from fear and intimidation.”

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE COURT SYSTEM

AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT TO EXPECT

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EMERGE

Because Wanting to Stop is NOT Enough

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SEXISM

Another hurdle to overcome.

WHEN SHE HITS HIM FIRST

THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES NO MATTER WHO DOES THE HITTING.

Emotional Abuse: Why Anger Management Didn’t Work

Learning to Unclench Their Fists

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© Spiritual Side of Domestic Violence Org., 2009
All rights reserved.

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Posted by on July 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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