Men’s Domestic Violence Rehabilitation Group Plan
San Diego State University
This paper explores rehabilitation for male populations in support groups through a combination of a variety of therapeutic, educational and habilitation techniques. The paper will outline 1) the problem statement; 2) the group organization; 3) the group goals; 4) the group rules; 5) the group format; and finally 6) the assessment method. The problem statement will explore some of the issues plaguing male populations from the standpoint of disability rather than from the common approach of medical malady or social stigma. In addition the solution approach of group therapy dynamics will take a holistic approach rooted in scientific environmental and social sustainability rather than ethically ambiguous social or criminal justice concepts.
Keywords: men’s rehabilitation, disability, social sustainability, bullying, domestic violence
The problem statement
As modern society in the US realizes less disparity between the sexes and a more even distribution of opportunity, we still encounter a variety of social problems that at times seem to disproportionately affect both male and non-female populations. In a previous paper I explore the group dynamics of a non-profit that provides support for male offenders in domestic violence cases and many themes arose within that process. Timeless controversies like gender, sexuality, health, ability, power, dominance, courtship and social expectation were underlying the accusations that brought the men together into that room and upon which the conversation touched upon. In addressing these issues, it’s integral to summarize them into their most basic themes in order to fit them into the group process so that topics can be thoroughly, regularly and constructively explored and hopefully resolved.
In a report by headed by Clare Cannon, MA, he uncovers three integral flaws n the effectiveness of Batterer Intervention Programs (BIPs) (1) Unlike similar demographics like specific law offenders and chemical dependents, there is little research on batterers and tons of inconclusive data on BIPs and the models they follow (p 227); (2) Most regulatory state laws on BIPs are erred, detailing only non-evidence based approaches, ignoring social science research data, yet instead only following recommendations from victim advocacy groups (p 227). The unfortunate result is that most states reinforce the patriarchal “Duluth” model of “power and treatment styles and penalizing cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches that reasonably emphasize a participant’s psychiatry and character; (3) Third, virtually no thought is put into guaranteeing therapies are administered according to the nuances of each client, rooted in meaningful testing or assessment (p 228).
Cannon goes on to explain, (a) criminal surveys contain a bias that under reports assaults overall and only portrays female victim, ultimately being unreliable data (p 228). Then (b) she compares the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, (which looks at a sample of,365,000 men and 4,741,000 women) found the rate of victimized men to be at 4.5% for minor victimizations like slapping, pushing, shoving, etc. And at 2.0% for severe victimizing like punching, striking with a hard object, beating, etc. Rates in the female population were at 3.6% for minor victimizations and 2.7% for major. In an approximate total, 7.3 million men and 7.5 million women were victimized (p 228). And she also finds when It comes to psychological abuse (PA), abuse, controlling, and stalking, and sexual harassment more often than those for physical assault. In the US 80% of individuals experienced physical abuse or harassment at least once (p 228). Surprisingly she reports that the rates of PA minimally changes throughout genders regarding the occurrence of psycho-emotional abuse and control, including in BIP samples. But women consistently have a higher likelihood of victimization of stalking and sexual harassment (p229). She explains “the impact of [abuse] is greater on female victims, in terms of serious bodily injury requiring medical attention, fear, and mental health symptoms such as anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and clinical depression [with] some effect on abuse dynamics.”(p 229). On a larger scale, Cannon reports the negative effects on children, regarding “the impact of female-perpetrated abuse on families, especially its correlation with aggression and other externalized symptoms (p 229).
Defining Assault, Abuse, Sexual Violence, etc.
One of the most imprtant tasks in a domestic violence group, abuse needs to be defined. Cannon explains several types, 1) intimate terrorism (IT): “When combined with physical assaults, a sustained pattern of emotional/psychological abuse and control is known alternatively as battering or intimate terrorism (IT). Then there’s 2) situational violence (SV): . Following that there’s, 3) partner abuse (PA)/ domestic violence (DV): “a serious public health problem that includes physical as well as nonphysical forms of relationship aggression among dating, cohabitating, and married couples from all ethnic and cultural groups, of both opposite-sex and same-sex orientation”. And there’s intimate personal violence (IPV)
One of the most striking points of research by Ms. Cannon revealed risk factors most correlated with partner violence (PV) included low socioeconomic status, poor education, the experience of childhood abuse, dependency on drugs and alcohol, and an aggressive personality (p 229). Many of these factors are very sex neutral and could affect anyone.
The literature and information that Clare Cannon sheds on regarding the nature of DV not only reveals that the approach to treating it is unnecessarily pragmatic with the over-emphasis of the Duluth model, it also largely doesn’t consider the diversity of the people who make up these situations. As a disability theory academic, the CBT and psychodynamic approaches seem the most relevant in providing guidance to a group in order to find resolution to their individual issues. Accordingly my approach will have the members consider these diverse situations and explore the dynamism of a group interaction between members of diverse backgrounds.
The general issue the article and my experience highlights is that the goals of the groups tends to be to vent. Also the design also seems to be rooted on power and control in a patriarchal legal justice fashion rather than to do psychosocial repair work. A more constructive goal would focus on rehabilitation by smoking out underlying issues and bringing resolution to the parties involved.
The group goals correlate with the research of the literature reviewed: a low socioeconomic status; b) poor education; c) the experience of childhood abuse; d) dependency on drugs and alcohol; e) and an aggressive personality. The goals accordingly are to 1) help members understand the role of gender diversity and the relativism of gender roles because it is a group for male perpetrators; 2) help members understand the importance of emotional expression in a nonviolent manner via conversation on upbringing and how they were treated by their parents; 3) to help group members consider their behavior in the context of intoxication and their responsibilities and aspirations; 4) And discuss the difference between assertiveness and aggression, escalation and deescalation.
For a IPV/DV group I would consider the rules of: 1) breaking into groups when the larger group exceeds five people to maintain intimacy of conversation. I think too many voices makes a pace much slower. In addition, I would time the duration in which a person can take time to talk if the numbers are too large. 2) I would require members to distinguish between proper language, improper language and male vernacular. Because of my language background, I truly think of language as gendered and we should be aware of our communication styles at all times. 4) I’d of course reinforce the rules of what is said in the group stays in the group, but to ensure this, I would require members to also respect the confidentiality of non-group members and use alternative names. 5) Lastly, I’d require some sort of homework to explore different themes relevant to the individual situations of each participant and that they bring in and share on verbally for their rehabilitation.
Considering the literature, I feel that a workshop or a series of class-like modules would be most ideal to cover a variety of topics in variety and in depth. From my observation and from the literature it is very clear that DV has multiple genders, dispositions, and other factors. A curriculum that explores and addresses these issues can help rehabilitate what plenty of evidence displays as more than just an issue between the sexes, but instead comorbid problem with cognitive disabilities, psychiatric disabilities and substance abuse. The sessions would be for 36 weeks as described as in the text, but in a workshop and modularized format, fitting into the two hour support group time slot but dividing it into sessions.
For assessment, I’d rely on a curriculum based approach for indicating members performance. As previously stated, a workshop format in dual sessions will allow me to explore more areas on which those involved need to work. In addition, in between those segments evaluations via likert scale and short answer can be distributed and gathered in order to collect timely and relevant feedback from participants.
Cannon, C. (2016). A survey of domestic violence perpetrator programs in the United States and Canada: findings and implications for policy and intervention. Partner abuse, 7(3), 226.