Yes, men who batter can change. However, it may be a difficult and gradual process, usually requiring many types of interventions over time. Our Duluth Model response that couples a strong, consistent criminal justice system response with men’s nonviolence classes has shown great success. We’ve found that 68% of men who pass through the criminal justice system response and are sent to our men’s nonviolence classes have not reappeared in the criminal justice system over a course of eight years. The criminal justice system is the first step in holding men who batter accountable and our men’s nonviolence classes continue the accountability while offering the opportunity for men who batter to examine and change the beliefs they hold that allow them to be violent or controlling of their partners. Many men in our men’s nonviolence program state that without the system intervention and the classes that gave them the opportunity to examine and change their beliefs, they would never have changed.
The Duluth Model is the most widely-adopted approach in the world for intervening with men who batter and keeping women safer. It has influenced and shaped much of national and state-level policy around batterer intervention and domestic violence work because of its innovative methods and success. Our research has shown that 68% of men who pass through our criminal justice response and are sent to our men’s nonviolence classes have not reappeared in the criminal justice system over a course of eight years. The strength of our intervention model comes from basing every intervention firmly on the experience of women who have been battered, coordinating a consistent criminal justice system respone for men who batter, and offering these men opportunities for change. The effectiveness of this approach is witnessed by the men who have chosen to change and the women who report they are safer. Click here to read some of the research supporting the Duluth Model.
There has been criticism of the Duluth Model stemming from research that focuses on inaccurate assumptions about the Duluth Model. The research focuses on batterer intervention programs modeled after the Duluth Model but that are unconnected to a larger coordinated community response that coordinates the efforts of law enforcement, probation, prosecutors, and advocacy—a key element of the Duluth Model approach. The findings are also contradicted by other better-designed and more comprehensive studies. Click here to read some of the research supporting the Duluth Model.
No. A Duluth Model men’s nonviolence program helps facilitate men’s change through a process of critical dialogue. Our facilitators create an open learning environment that respects the men, their experience, and their thinking, but also challenges their entitlement to abuse. Both participants and facilitators are challenged to question the beliefs we each carry about ourselves, our partners, and our world. Together, participants and facilitators analyze how men use violence, what beliefs give them permission to control their partners and their children, and the impact of this violence on everyone and then explore and practice noncontrolling and nonviolent alternatives.
While some programs have inappropriately used our curriculum to shame men, that is not our methodology. Shaming dehumanizes and creates resistance to change.
The battering of women by men continues to be a significant social problem–men commit over 85% of all criminal assaults and women are killed 3.5 times more often than men in domestic homicides. Not naming this gender disparity, and the continued underlying social, cultural and institutional structures that support it, keeps us from naming the social problem for what it is. While we do recognize there are cases of domestic violence other than male perpetrated violence against women, even in those cases the perpetrator’s sense of entitlement to control or dominate another remains the predominant cause of violence.
When women use violence in an intimate relationship, the circumstances of that violence tend to differ from when men use violence. Men’s use of violence against women is learned and reinforced through many social, cultural and institutional experiences. Women’s use of violence does not have the same kind of societal support. Many women who do use violence against their male partners are being battered. Their violence is used primarily to respond to and resist the violence used against them. On the societal level, women’s violence against men has a trivial effect on men compared to the devastating effect of men’s violence against women.
Battering in same-sex intimate relationships has many of the same characteristics of battering in heterosexual relationships, but happens within the context of the larger societal oppression of same-sex couples. Resources that describe same-sex domestic violence have been developed by specialists in that field such as The Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse, www.nwnetwork.org.
If we ignore the power imbalances in relationships between men and women and power imbalances in society we miss the opportunity for real societal change. By naming the power differences, we can more clearly provide advocacy and support for victims, accountability and opportunities for change for offenders, and system and societal changes that end violence against women.
The Duluth Model approach for intervening with men who batter is the most widely-used approach in the world. It has influenced and shaped much of national and state-level policy around batterer intervention and domestic violence work. The effect of intervening with complex social problems is very difficult to evaluate. Click here to read some of the research supporting the Duluth Model.
We wanted a way to describe battering for victims, offenders, and practitioners in the criminal justice system and the general public. Over several months in 1984, we asked women in our educational groups for women who had been battered to describe the specific behaviors of the men who battered them. We listened to heart-wrenching stories of violence, terror and survival. After listening to these stories and asking questions, we documented the most common abusive behaviors or tactics that were used against these women. The tactics chosen for the wheel were those that were most universally experienced by battered women.
The Equality Wheel was developed for the men’s nonviolence program, to show what victims of battering want from men who commit to a change process. The wheel is not just a prescription for abuse-free behavior but focuses on how to establish real equality after a man has used a pattern of abuse over time. Each segment of the Equality Wheel shows the alternative to the same segment on the Power and Control Wheel.
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