Gender Specific Services
Domestic Violence Intervention for Men & Batterer Intervention
- Mission of Domestic Violence Intervention
- Who is Referred to Domestic Violence Intervention Services?
- Philosophy of Domestic Violence Intervention
- Goals of Domestic Violence Intervention
- The Purpose of Domestic Violence Intervention Groups
- Introduction to Solutions’ Domestic Violence Groups
- General Description of Solutions’ Domestic Violence Intervention Program
Domestic Violence Intervention for Women
Offset for Teens
Focus for Adults
Parenting for Adults - Domestic Violence Focus, Includes Child Abuse
for more information about each service, see below......
Mission of Batterer Intervention
Mission: To maintain a focus on the safety of battered women and children, and make all program decisions with this focus, while actively participating in a coordinated community response to domestic abuse by:
- Maintaining consistent collaboration with all community child and adult victim services, private and public;
- Participating in community education surrounding the truth about domestic violence;
- Providing a direct service, which is primarily a group format, to offenders that has a focus on the safety of women and children, and the accountability and responsibility of the offender;
- Collaborating with community partners, on a regular basis. These partners should include: law enforcement, criminal justice, judges, district attorneys, adult and juvenile corrections personnel, court personnel, victim advocacy programs, services to children and families, adult and family services, public housing, alcohol and drug treatment providers, public defenders or other defense lawyers, legal aid, law clinics, or private attorneys which provide legal representation to victims, medical professionals, dental professionals, hospital emergency and psychiatric personnel, public and private therapists the public health department, representatives from churches and other community groups, neighborhood associations, school personnel, funding agencies, state and local media, educators and interested groups.
Who is Referred to Batterer Intervention Services?
Those referred to Batterer Intervention Services are the identified adult and adolescent populations whose behavior, most accurately fit the definition of battering. As outlined in A Collaborative Approach to Domestic Violence: Oregon Protocol Handbook, battering is patterned abuse in the presence of controlling tactics. Abuse that has at least once been physical, sexual, or has involved the destruction of property, or has been threatened, and is either repeated or threatened to be repeated in such a way as to engender fear in the mind of the victim, is battering. It is the systematic domination of one person by another. It may include emotional abuse in the absence of physical, sexual, or property abuse and threats of repetition create an atmosphere of fear and of coerced accommodation.
Battering is abuse that is systematized by an ongoing threat or actual promise of the continuance of violence. The batterer keeps his victim in a state of constant fear with implied or actual threats of further violence or degradation. The batterer’s intent is not a measurement of battering. Battering is measured by the acts and patterns of abuse inflicted by the perpetrator and by the repercussions experienced and reported by the victim.
Philosophy of Batterer Intervention
- Violence and abuse are never justified as a way to solve problems and are not an expression of feelings.Violence and abuse are never an acceptable part of any relationship.
- The safety of the victim is the ultimate and primary goal for abusive and violent individuals and the system within which that intervention occurs.
- Violence is a choice, a decision, and a means to an end, a tactic. It is only one choice of many an individual can make. And the decision to use violence is never the fault of or caused by the victim, mental illness, anger, substance abuse, a relationship, communication, or stress.
- Individuals who choose abuse and violence already know respectful and egalitarian behaviors and many times practice these behaviors in other areas of their lives. Batterer intervention does not need to teach these behaviors, but rather to intervene in the abusive and violent choices through giving feedback, holding the abuser accountable and reinforcing the respectful choices toward the victim, which can include an adult partner, children, elderly parents or relatives, and other family members.
- Physical violence is often just the most visible part of a larger pattern of control or dominance used by an individual to get what they want. Feelings are often used as an excuse for this violation of others, who may not be meaningfully able to resist. Therefore, no one act of violence, while it may be the first act of that kind of violence, occurs in isolation.
- Violence is not related to or necessarily preceded by anger. Rather anger and other feelings are many times used as an excuse to abuse. Feelings are information or the brain to interpret and do not cause particular behaviors unless you think that they do. Stopping or controlling anger is not related to stopping violence.
- Violence is supported by beliefs, family structures, and social and political structures, which legitimize, rationalize and condone violence.
- To adequately intervene in a pattern of violence requires a substantive change in the individual’s belief systems, thought patterns, behavior, and lifestyle. Since violence is a choice and since it is so supported by many aspects of our society, an individual who has been violent remains capable of being violent at any
- time, even when that change has occurred.
- Effective intervention in domestic violence requires a coordinated, egalitarian effort of all related community resources including, but not limited to, law enforcement, victims’ advocacy, and batterers’ intervention programs.
Goals of Batterer Intervention
- Stop the physical violence and protect the victim and her/his safety.
- Stop all other forms of abuse, including (but not limited to): intimidation, emotional, psychological, economic, minimizing, denying, blaming, isolation, using children, male privilege, coercion and threats.
- Expose and change the belief systems and thought patterns that justify, rationalize and support the violence.
- Address his motive for the abuse (control, dominance, etc.) and intervene in a direct and respectful manner through the use of education and feedback.
- Expose how it is possible for the abuser to use respect and equality in other areas of his life and support his identification of the excuses that he uses to support his choice to use abuse and violence toward the family.
- Reinforce the thought patterns and belief systems that promote respect and equality.
- Identify and reinforce each man’s individual intervention plan, which is directly related to his specific pattern and cycle and reinforce his use thereof.
The Purpose of Batterer Intervention Groups
(back to Batterer Intervention Services)
Introduction to Solutions’ Batterer Groups
(back to Batterer Intervention Services)
General Description of Solutions’ Batterer Program
The Solutions Domestic Violence Intervention Program for men uses practices that have been supported and approved by local and state domestic violence professionals and are based on best practices in the field of domestic violence intervention for male perpetrators. Our mission is to maintain a focus on the safety of victims, offender accountability and to make all program decisions based on this focus, while actively participating in a coordinated community response to end domestic abuse. Responsibility and accountability are key components of your participation while in the Solutions Program. This goal is accomplished through the exchange of educational information and feedback. The Solutions model of intervention is a cognitive behavioral combined with feminist theory approach based on the ideology that words are a window to an individual’s thoughts and beliefs. This includes the fact that feelings have no causal relationship to abuse and violence. Thoughts based on beliefs initiate the movement of your body. Beliefs are where the process of your choice for abuse begins. Therefore, we will consistently invite you to focus on your thoughts and identify the underlying beliefs.
By identifying the words and language you choose that support domestic violence, you will be able to tap into the thinking system underlying this language. Once identified, you will see that these thought patterns serve to maintain your continuation of your abuse and violence. This is often a belief system that has been in place for many years. By receiving feedback on the language of violence that you choose, you will experience discomfort. This discomfort is part of the process of making any long-term change. It will be helpful if you keep the focus on your thinking processes instead of blaming others for your discomfort. You will notice that you begin the change process by engaging in an internal struggle between your old thoughts and beliefs and the new information presented. Eventually, you will choose one or the other, because it is very difficult to endure this internal discomfort for an extended period of time.
(back to Batterer Intervention Services)
Domestic Violence Intervention for Women
Solutions developed the first Domestic Violence Intervention Program for women, in the United States. Domestic violence Intervention for women is a gender specific cognitive behavioral approach to domestic violence based on premise that women are socialized differently than men. This does not mean that domestic violence is any more acceptable for women. It simply develops differently. Women are sent very different social messages when they develp, than men, and visa versa. Therefore, creating a needs based model.
- Women and Domestic Violence, A Response to: Who's To Blame?
- Introduction to Solutions' Women's Programs
- General Description of Violence Intervention for Women
Women and Domestic Violence, A Response to: Who’s To Blame?
Submitted by: Vivien L. Bliss, M.S. L.P.C. M.A.C.
Solutions Domestic Violence Intervention Program, Inc. 1998
For the past 10 years my work has been focused on the area of Family Violence. And for the past 7 years I have maintained a more concentrated focus on acts of domestic violence committed by both men and women. During this time, professionals have repeatedly asked me to sum up, in one paragraph or less the following: Who’s at fault when a woman is violent towards an adult partner? Aren’t men victims too?
*Please note that this article talks about domestic violence in heterosexual relationships and does not address this issue in same sex relationships.
Battered women advocates have spoken to this question for years, but no one seems to hear them. There appears to be what I would refer to as a pursuit for the “real truth” about women and violence. At this point in time, I not only expect this question, but I welcome it. Women and violence can look perplexing until you break it down from a social and cultural perspective.
The Oakland Men’s Project (Kivel, 1987, 1990, 1991) has a workbook that has several assignments that can be quite helpful in this process. In summary, one of the exercises assists in the process of challenging your belief system on what it is to either: “Act Like a Man” or “Act Like a Lady”. While reading these messages about being a man or a lady, I encourage you to examine your own beliefs.
Many, if not, most people in the United States and other countries will list qualities of what it is to be a man or “act like a man” that include: acting aggressive, responsible, mean, bullies, tough, angry, successful, strong, in control, active, and dominant over women. Furthermore, men are supposed to: yell at people, have no emotions, get good grades, stand up for themselves, be physically strong, don’t cry, don’t make mistakes, know about sex, take care of people, be the protector, don’t back down, push people around, and act like they can take it.
There are infinite expectations for women to “act like a lady”. Many women deal with these messages on a daily basis. They include: you should: talk softly, be sexy, be pretty, be thin, never act aggressively, be submissive, be passive, take care of the house, be superwomen, put your needs aside, be clean, be available to men, cry and show emotion, take care of the family emotionally, don’t be too smart, never stand up for yourself, be polite, be available to men, be naïve about sex, need a men to take care of you, hold the family together, want to take care of the children, and never complain.
Times Are Changing--Women Really Are Becoming More Violent?
So, are women becoming more violent? As the population grows in the United States, it could be reasonable to assume that there are increasing numbers of women committing acts of violence in 1998. But, this is clearly not the case according to the most recent publication by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics on Violence by Intimates (March, 1998). This information reflects that intimate violence against men did not vary significantly from 1992 to 1996. These statistics further report that more than 8 in 10 of violent crimes in intimate relationships involve a female victim. In fact, the most current studies continue to reflect a range of 85% to 95% of all Domestic Violence between adults is a man being violent to a woman. If women are statistically arrested and prosecuted more frequently in your locality, I encourage you to look at the arrest laws and how they are structured, as well as the local law enforcement leaders and judges. You will see that the laws do not mention that he should act that way and she should not. Laws and a basis for an actual arrest are pretty black and white. There is either evidence or a witness, or not. There is either an injury or not. He/she either admits they did the act or not. Prosecution and sentencing is typically not so black and white. Pay attention to your local law enforcement and local government leaders. Do you suppose their belief systems support the “act like a man” or “act like a lady” messages? Check it out and see if the leaders of your community have an interest in stopping domestic violence in your area, or is their focus on other issues? Do they have educational information about domestic violence to assist them in appropriate decision-making?
Is This Person a Victim of an Offender?
In the area of domestic violence, this is another question that is asked a lot. Furthermore, this is a question that most people have difficulty answering because we are all affected by our own belief system and what it means to be a man or a woman in our society. If you believe in some, or all, of the supports for “act like a man” or “act like a lady”, you will have an internal struggle attempting to answer this question. Until you can sort out this internal struggle, the answer to this question will probably continue to be fuzzy. Also, if you have a similar framework for what a victim is and what an offender is, your confusion will be compounded.
So, my next challenge to you is to identify within yourself what a female victim is. How do you believe a woman who is a victim of a crime should act? What should she be like? And, let’s say she presents herself very much like the “act like a man” description, not the “act like a lady” description. Let’s say she is aggressive, tough, angry, strong, dominant, mean, doesn’t cry, doesn’t back down, and stands up for herself. What would you think about that? Is she any less a victim?
So Why Aren't Heterosexual Males Victims of Domestic Violence?
What I have learned is:
- The development of violence for men is different from the development of violence for women;
- The thinking pattern for women who choose violence is similar to that of the male offender in that there are components of justification, rationalization, and blame for both genders;
- Men minimize the effects of their acts of violence towards a female partner;
- The social and cultural supports for violence are drastically different for men than they are for women;
- Men typically choose violence towards an adult partner for power, control, and to maintain a dominant position in the relationship. *Note that he stays in the “act like a man” box to commit the act, therefore the act of violence is socially and culturally supported.
- Women typically choose violence toward a male partner in an attempt to defend themselves. *Note that she steps out of the “act like a lady” box to commit the act, therefore there are social & cultural supports for women to be abused and not to choose violence.
- To view gender specific violence without considering the social and cultural aspects is irresponsible;
- Women who choose violence towards a domestic partner have a history of victimization that was perpetrated by a man or men, which typically includes the man that she chooses to act violently towards.
In all of my years of professional experience (since 1972) as a Family Therapist, Crisis Intervention Worker, Drug /Alcohol Counselor, Mental Health Specialist, Family Planning Counselor, Teacher, Juvenile Probation Officer, Detention Group Worker, Anger Management Instructor, Co-dependency Counselor, and Domestic Violence Intervention Program Facilitator, I have not met a woman that was in a heterosexual relationship who has chosen violence towards an adult partner to maintain dominance in the relationship.
So, How Do Female Victims of Domestic Violence Act?
I encourage you to consult your local battered women’s services for additional information in this regard; however what I will say is that these women are survivors. They are not necessarily going to present themselves in a way that will make you think about putting your arm around them for comfort. They have had to learn survival skills equal to the abuse they have experienced. Many of these women are alcoholics and/or drug addicts. Some women victims have significant mental health issues that they have developed because of the abuse, or their illness has worsened because of the abuse. Some women victims of violence have a personality structure that is volatile. They may be in your face yelling, or threatening you, or may be looking for someone else to blame, because that behavior appears safer for them. They may be avoidant and resistant to contact. Many of the women are respectful and eager to take responsibility for the violence, and will even express why they are responsible for his abusive actions.
These are the same women who are arrested for acts of violence towards their male partners. Are their actions justified? If you say no, you could be accused of victim blaming. And it’s true, you would be blaming a woman for defending herself. On the other hand, do you want to support violence, regardless of the reason? I have decided that violence is never justified, however I continue to struggle with the issue of the women who make the dangerous decision to get out of the “act like a lady” box and say: “No more abuse” by defending herself physically. She may hurt him, or worse, kill him. Is she at fault? Who’s to blame? I believe that this is a question we will all have to answer for ourselves.
Meanwhile, the criminal justice system continues to proceed with the gender-neutral prosecution of domestic violence cases, and operate under guidelines that say no visible gender bias is to be tolerated here. How do you help educate those who are well-intentioned make a suitable decision? What if the belief systems of the Judge, DA, or DDA include the idea that both people in a heterosexual relationship are of equal power? Sentencing will be viewed as equal. The biggest problem with this is that the victim is once again blamed. However, if you have a legal process by which the truth about domestic violence is openly acknowledged, both verbally and in writing, this is a step in the right direction. Giving the women, who have committed acts of violence, this information during and/or after sentencing is a significant acknowledgment of the imbalance of power.
What about the heterosexual males who have been victims of child abuse?
Can’t They Be Victims Too?
Many heterosexual men who choose acts of violence towards their intimate partners have been victims of child abuse, and many have witnessed domestic violence. However, what we now know is that a man does not choose violence and abuse towards an intimate partner because he was abused. He chooses the abuse to maintain power, control, and dominance in the relationship. The truth is that this same man will attempt to rationalize and justify his violent actions by using this excuse of child abuse.
This paper is a response to the question: Who’s to blame? I have included various sections that discuss some of the topics implied when a person asks this question. Some of the socially and culturally supported beliefs about how a man should act and how a lady should act have been considered. Men continue to commit acts of violence towards women in a range of 85% to 95% of the time. So, what’s up with these women who dare to choose such an act? Well, they are certainly stepping outside of what is socially acceptable for a woman. Should we consider domestic violence acceptable if a woman commits it? Should she be held accountable, even if she is fighting for her life? Or should we simply, continue to pretend that times are changing and that men and women are equal, that women can be offenders, and we should treat them the same, regardless of the facts. And then there’s always the choice of doing nothing.
My conclusion is that women who commit acts of domestic violence towards an intimate partner are victims. And, they have chosen violence. So, let’s focus on that. Let’s talk about the truth.
Note from the author: A special thanks to Paul Kivel, Alan Creighton, and the Oakland Men's Project for their creation of the "Act Like a Man" and "Act Like a Lady" concepts.
(back to Violence Intervention for Women)
Introduction to Solutions’ Women’s Program
Clients enter this program for very serious reasons and will be expected to take an in depth look at themselves by identifying their thinking, supporting beliefs, and choice of action. Examining their own choice of language, and the way they live their life, will be an important part of this process. Reading and completing the exercises in Solutions’ workbook will be only a portion of this work. Participating in group, taking feedback from others in the group, and considering the feedback offered will be an important part of the process.
The Solutions program offers groups to those who have committed acts of violence towards a household or family member, or intimate partner. We define violence as any act that is, either directly or indirectly, aimed towards violating (hurting) another person. This act has the purpose of gaining the advantage, instilling fear and having, or maintaining, power and control in the relationship. These violent and/or abusive acts will include a combination (or all) of the following; emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse, neglect of care, social abuse, physical abuse, using the children, using intimidation, and using coercion and threats. This is a general list of categories of abuse. It will be the client’s goal to identify the specific types of abuse and violence they choose, in addition to specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Oregon State and national statistics confirm that in the vast majority of cases, the victims/survivors of partner abuse are overwhelmingly women, and the perpetrators are men. National statistics also reflect that males commit 90 percent of violence directed towards males, and over 90 percent of the violence directed towards females.
A December 1999 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that more than 3 million women were arrested in 1998 and nearly 1 million were under correctional supervision. In the early 1970s when there were about 6,000 women in prison, women comprised just 3 percent of the prison population. Today there are about 79,000 women in prison and they comprise 6.3 percent of the total. Women now account for about 14 percent of violent offenders, according to victim reports, and more that non-quarter of those are juveniles. Most often these crimes are related to possession or low-level trafficking of illegal drugs.
Women’s pathways to crime are distinctly different than men’s. Most often they are rooted in past traumas associated with family and intimate violence. The BJS report found that nearly 60 percent of women in state prisons had been physically or sexually abused. Although men also experience traumas at early ages, the emotional dynamics and behavior present themselves differently in adulthood-men often becoming perpetrators and women remaining victims or in dependent roles with continued abuse. In a study conducted among violent women offenders at New York’s Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, only 6 percent had not experienced at least one serious physical or sexual assault in their lives. Nearly 60 percent were sexually molested as children, and larger percentages had been assaulted as adults.
Large numbers of women offenders also suffer from mental illness. Where mental health services are not available or where the women have been de-institutionalized from hospitals without support, many have found legitimate opportunities blocked. In trying to support themselves through prostitution and low-level drug dealing, they eventually have become ensnared in the justice system.
Some people have come to this program because they have chosen a violent act towards a child. If this is the case, they will be exploring their pattern and cycle of child abuse. This will include looking at her family and past generations, comparing her pattern of abuse with past family patterns, as well as identifying the specific types of abuse that she chooses.
The four most common forms of child abuse are:
- Emotional Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
Neglect: Neglect occurs when adults responsible for the well being of a child fail to provide for the child. Neglect may include not giving food, clothing, or shelter; failure to keep children clean, lack of supervision and withholding medical care.
Emotional Abuse: Any chronic and persistent act by an adult that endangers the mental health or emotional development of a child including rejection, ignoring, terrorizing, corrupting, constant criticism, mean remarks, insults, and giving little or no love, guidance and support.
Physical Abuse: An injury or pattern of injuries that happen to a child and are not accidental. These injuries may include beatings, burns, bruise, bites, welts, strangulation, broken bones or death.
Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse is the sexual assault or sexual exploitation of children. Sexual abuse may consist of numerous acts over a long period of time or a single incident. Children can be victimized from infancy through adolescence. Sexual abuse includes rape, incest, sodomy, fondling, exposing oneself, oral copulation, penetration of the genital or anal openings, as well as forcing children to view or appear in pornography. The perpetrator keeps the child from disclosing, through intimidation, threats, and rewards.
In the United States between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 females are sexually abused as children. At least 1 in 7 to 1 in 10 males have been sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18. In 80 percent of the sexual abuse cases, the child knows the offender and in 50 percent of all cases, the offender is a member of the child’s household. Abuse crosses all socioeconomic backgrounds.
We are aware that many of the women who come into our services have been victims of child abuse, partner abuse, date rape and/or marital rape. Therefore, her personal mission will include acknowledging her own victimization. This can present a special challenge. It requires taking a look at how she has been victimized, without taking responsibility for it, while identifying how she has chosen to violate others. She will begin to see what she is responsible for more clearly, by learning to tell herself the truth. This will be accomplished by examining her choice of self-talk and language, and how these relate to her belief system. Keep in mind that it is not unusual for group members to be confused or frustrated early on in this process.
*Please note: If a client has experienced victimization, and has not received counseling in relation to this victimization, we may recommend for her to participate in individual counseling while attending the group.
(back to Violence Intervention for Women)
General Description of Violence Intervention for Women
Violence intervention is a cooperative effort requiring sincere and active participation while involved in the service. This program is intended to be equally appropriate for women who are abusive to female partners and for women who are abusive to male partners. We make every effort to provide an accountability focus for women, who have chosen abuse and violence towards children, since there is an obvious power differential between parent and child. When possible, this population is seen in groups specific to child abuse, however most of the information provided in the partner directed abuse groups is relevant to these women, as well. The Solutions program does not view violence intervention as a mental health issue, a substance abuse issue, a communication problem, or parenting problem. It is a choice made by one person to violate and abuse another. We therefore do not necessarily consider the violence intervention program a counseling service. We can promise to give you the best services we know how to provide and to be honest with you about our opinions and recommendations. We cannot promise any particular result or conclusion of the program nor can we assume responsibility for action a client may choose while in the program.
The Solutions Program uses methodologies for their services that have been approved by the local and state domestic violence councils. This includes using cognitive-behavioral, educational, and resocialization approaches. The cognitive-behavioral model derives from social learning theory that sees controlling and abusive behaviors as socially learned and self-reinforcing. According to this model, since abuse and control are learned behaviors, non-abusive and non-controlling behaviors are similarly learned. Many women who are violent have learned violence from being battered by one or more partners as an adult. This is particularly true of women who are violent to male partners. Violence is a chosen behavior on the part of the violent person. Women will often state that they feel “out of control” during the episodes of violence, and that their partner “pushed their buttons” or “made them feel angry.” The truth is that the abusive behavior is a choice on the part of the violent person. And, to acknowledge this is critical to making change. Women need to learn to choose non-violent behavior to solve problems, get needs met, deal with strong emotions, etc.
A desire for power and control is what motivates a person to choose violence. Women’s choice for violence is not supported by the culture as men’s violence is. In fact, men perpetrate approximately 90 % of all violence, worldwide. Women are not portrayed as protectors or heroes. They are not expected to rule the house or business, or be in control of every situation. There are no religious or legal sanctions that support women to use their power to control their partners. Typically, women are violent toward adult partners for one of the following three reasons:
- They have learned that they can use power, which includes physical violence, to control another person. They sometimes feel entitled to get what they want, using frustration and anger as an excuse.
- They are self-defending against a person who is battering them.
- They go into a survival mode after having a long history of being battered as an adult, and/or a child. They have decided that no one is going to hurt them again.
Women who have chosen violence are seen in gender specific groups. We have come to understand that due to the number of women who have been victims of abuse that has been perpetrated by men, a female co-facilitation team is preferable. Women are afforded a safe environment to focus on their own behavior and thinking patterns. The group facilitator(s) offer feedback about damaging and ultimately self-defeating thinking patterns and the consequences of violence, as well as offer alternative behaviors. Group facilitators model equality and respect and challenge behaviors and beliefs that reflect attitudes of inequality and disrespect. A positive resocialization process is evidenced in the group as members begin to voluntarily challenge each other’s beliefs about violence, abuse, and control. This is also an opportunity for women to begin to practice and model alternative behaviors and attitudes, which reflect changing beliefs regarding power and control within adult relationships and a parent role. Educational information on battering and safety planning is included within the context of the groups.
Solutions is a voluntary program and we assume that all clients are voluntary. If a client thinks they do not need to be here or do not need batterer intervention, we ask that they exercise their legal options and take this matter up with the party who referred them and not make it a program issue. Even if a client has taken a plea bargain or something equivalent, they are nevertheless expected to take full responsibility for their actions both verbally and in writing in a compelling, sincere manner as a condition of each program group or assignment.
Regardless of a client’s referral source, (which may include: Criminal Court, Services to Children and Families, Juvenile Court, Family Court, another public agency, or as a personal choice), they will be required to identify, take full responsibility, and be accountable for all acts of abuse and violence. If a client does not think they have issues relating to abuse and violence, and are not willing to work on these areas, we ask clients to please explore other options.
(back to Violence Intervention for Women)
Parenting Groups and Related Issues
- Fathering Class
- Mothering Class
- Batterers as Parents
A Focus on Children Fathering Program
A community action approach to end violent behavior that focuses on:
- Gender Issues
- Power & Control
- Language of Violence
- Financial Responsisibilty
(Back to Parenting Groups)
The Solutions Mothering classes have been developed specifically to take a look at the decisions that mothers may face in their role as a parent and a partner. Solutions recognizes that mothers face a complex role when it comes to parenting. In this role, mothers find themselves making daily decisions about how to parent in a respectful way that assists their child in becoming a fully functioning and productive member of society. Abusive parenting practices are exposed in such a way that mothers will be compelled to search for alternative respectful parenting.
Women in the Solutions Mothering classes will be expected to take an in-depth look at themselves by identifying thinking, supporting beliefs, and choice of actions. Examining the choice for language, and the way a client lives their life, is an important part of the process.
The Solutions Mothering classes require each woman to ask themselves:
What am I responsible for?
In the United States between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 females are sexually abused as children. At least 1 in 7 to 1 in 10 males have been sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18. In 80% of the sexual abuse cases the child knows the offender and in 50% of all cases, the offender is a member of the child's household. Abuse crosses all socioeconomic backgrounds.
We are aware that many of the women who come into our services have been victims of child abuse, partner abuse, date rape and/or marital rape. Therefore, the person mission for women in the mothering program includes acknowledging their own victimization. This can present a special challenge. It requires women to take a look at how they have been victimized without taking responsibility for it, while identifying how they have chosen to violate others. By learning to tell themselves the truth, women can begin to see what they are really responsible for. This can be accomplished through examining choices of self-talk and language, and how they relate to belief systems.
GOALS OF THE MOTHERING PROGRAM
- Stop the physical violence and protect the victim and his/her safety.
- Stop all other forms of abuse, including (but not limited to): intimidation, emotional, psychological, economic, minimizing, denying, blaming, isolation, using children, male privilege, coercion, and threats.
- Change the belief systems that justify, rationalize, or support the violence.
- Address the motive for abuse (control, dominance, etc.) and teach non-violent, respectful ways of dealing with those issues.
- Address the needs, when present, which may underline the violence (trauma, injury, etc.) and arrive at non-violent, non-abusive courses of action in that regard.
- Establish a belief system that does not promote violence and is replaced with beliefs that promote equality.
- Assist mothers in developing a belief system that will support responsible, respectful, non-violent parenting.
- Identify and intervene in the cycle of violence against children.
- Identify how partner abuse traumatizes children in the home.
- Identify faulty beliefs and perceptions, and behavior patterns maintained by the mother that create barriers to effective and respectful parenting.
- Clarify and practice respectful parenting.
(Back to Parenting Groups)
Many parents come to our program with comments like: “my parents did it and I turned out alright”……”well, it’s legal to spank your child”……”I never do it out of anger”……”I only do it when it is something really serious”.
Written by: Vivien L. Bliss, MS LPC MAC
What is Discipline?
Through discipline, parents teach their children what they should and should not do to grow up to be happy and competent people. Parents use many different methods of discipline. These include showing, explaining, and encouraging behaviors they want the child to perform and punishing behaviors they want the child to stop doing. Spanking is one form of punishment that some parents use to try to change their children’s behavior.
How Do You Define Discipline?
Parents who have a belief system based in power and control may define discipline very differently. In fact, they may use the term discipline as permission to abuse their children. Pay attention to how you have been defining the term. If you find yourself thinking of glaring, raising your voice, yelling, hitting, slapping, washing a child’s mouth out with soap, shaking your finger, throwing something, etc…..you are identifying shaming and abuse……..not discipline.
Is Spanking Good for Kids?
This question has been studied for many years. Again and again, researchers have found that spanking is not a good way for parents to teach their children how to behave. Contrary to what many people believe, children who receive physical punishment tend to have more behavior problems than those who aren’t spanked. Children who are spanked grow up to believe that hitting other people is okay. As children, they are more likely to be aggressive with other children. As adults, they are more likely to resolve conflicts with their spouses and their own children with violence.
Spanking also teaches children to be good out of fear of being hit. They learn that violent behavior is okay as long as they aren’t caught doing it. It is far preferable for children to be good because they have learned the reasons for being good. We need to help children to develop self-discipline, understanding of others’ feelings, and good judgement. It takes much more than the threat of being hurt to guide respectful behavior.
Does Spanking Work?
A slap may stop a child from misbehaving now, but it doesn’t do anything to teach the child what you want him or her to do in the future. There are many other methods that work better and don’t require you to hurt your child.
The belief that all parents spank leads many parents to feel that it is natural to do so. Actually, this is a myth. Physical punishment is quite uncommon in many countries, such as Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Austria. Children in these countries grow up to be happy and well-adjusted people.
If I Stop Spanking, Won’t I “Loose Control” of My Child?
Some people are afraid that if we don’t spank children, they will get into trouble. In fact, the opposite is true. Most children who get into trouble with the law have been spanked. The more frequently children are spanked, the more likely they are to get into trouble.
Spanking leads to feelings of powerlessness in children. Children who are hit often try to make themselves feel more powerful by doing “risky” things. Physical punishment also taps into embarrassment, shame, and fear. Children who experience these feelings and have a parent who models hitting, begin to learn to think that when I feel this way, I should hit, because that is what daddy does. They also see that daddy hits someone far smaller than he is, so that must be an okay way to behave. So, they begin to seek out those smaller than themselves to hit. This is generally a younger brother or sister, or family pet. The powerless feelings of embarrassment, shame and fear become paired with the power of hitting, and the rehearsal of this behavior begins. Very soon, the child begins to justify his actions with feelings.
Boys tend to externalize in their justification process, which means they will generally choose an abusive behavior. Girls will typically internalize this process, which can result in depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or other mental health issues. This is largely as a result of the differences in the socialization process for boys and girls. Aggressive and violent behavior continues to be acceptable for boys, and largely unacceptable for girls. On the most part, girls are far more likely to blame themselves and boys are far more likely to blame others.
The fact that a child is not spanked does not necessarily mean that she is not being disciplined. Discipline means setting firm limits, letting children know when they are being respectful, and fully informing them of the consequences of disrespectful and abusive judgement and actions. These goals can all be accomplished without hitting children.
Why Do Parents Do It?
Parents continue to spank their children, despite what is known about its ineffectiveness, for a number of reasons:
Because they are afraid of spoiling their children.
Some parents believe that if they don’t spank, their children will be disobedient and become spoiled. In fact, parents who don’t spank but enforce firm limits and use positive reinforcement to build self-esteem and strong trusting relationships, have children who are well-adjusted and self-disciplined. Not spanking does not mean letting children do anything they please! There are many other forms of discipline that parents can use to teach children right from wrong.
Because they don’t know what else to do.
Many parents would like to stop spanking but feel that they don’t know enough about alternatives. Actually, few parents spank their children every time they misbehave. Most parents know quite a few alternatives already and just need to get better at using them consistently.
Because they tell themselves that they are too “angry or frustrated” to think of anything else.
Although most parents believe that spanking a child “in anger” is wrong, this is when much spanking takes place. I ask you, is calculated hitting better? Also, when we are thinking we are very frustrated, it is easy for us to use justifications and rationalizations like “I can’t take it anymore”….”they know what I’ll do when they act this”…..”I’ve told them a thousand times”.
Because they justify it with thoughts about how it will prevent injury to my child…..”I had to do it”….
Even parents who don’t want to spank sometimes feel that it is necessary to hit their children if they do things that are dangerous. Babies and young children do not understand the concept of danger or injury. They must be taught about things that can harm them. This can be done in ways that do not cause the child pain or discomfort. If a child is in danger, grab him, pull him away, hold him, this is very different from intentionally hurting him as punishment.
But I Use Only Mild Spankings, I Don’t Really Hurt My Child
...most abusive parents have said at one time that they would never seriously hurt their children.
How much it hurts depends primarily on the parent’s perception of their level of frustration at the moment. If we say that even mild spankings are okay, we increase the likelihood that parents who justify their actions with feelings like frustrated or angry will hit their children harder than they intend to. It is all too easy to cross the line between spanking and abuse.
Parents who rely on spanking often find that a little tap on the hand doesn’t stop the behavior. They may think that the problem is that they didn’t hit the child hard enough. So, they hit harder. If that doesn’t work, the parent justifies further hitting and hits them even harder. Many parents who are prosecuted for abuse are parents who justify slapping, then spanking, and then beating. Many times this occurs when a child decides to stand up and defend themselves from the abuse, with what the parent interprets as defiance.
It’s important to remember that even “mild” physical punishment can cause serious injury. Shaking a baby can cause whiplash, brain damage and even death. Shaking an older child can lead to a concussion. A slap on the side of a child’s head can cause deafness. A spank on the bottom can cause a child to lose his balance and hit his head. We need to remember that children are much smaller and more physically vulnerable than adults; they need to know that we can control ourselves and protect them from injury.
In recent years, we have realized that it is important that children feel a sense of control over their own bodies. Children are better able to protect themselves from physical and sexual abuse if we teach them that their bodies are to be respected. When they are hit, they may be less likely to feel that they can or should control what happens to their bodies; their sense of “self’ is violated.
THEY LAST REASON WHY PARENTS SPANK IS:
Because they believe it works.
It’s true that fear works. For that moment, anyway. However, in the long run, it teaches children that hitting is a way to stop feeling and solve problems.
(Back to Parenting Groups)
Batterers as Parents
Fathers, who abuse their partners, also abuse and traumatize their children either directly or indirectly. This abuse is in the form of sexual, physical, psychological, social, or emotional abuse. The following is an incomplete list of abuses that men as parents choose:
- Hurts mom in front of kids, including sexual abuse.
- Hurts mom so she can’t take care of the children.
- Hurts kids by hitting, kicking, pushing, pulling, or throwing items during abuse of mom.
- Shows no concern for children during his abuse towards their mother.
- Denies that children are affected by their abuse towards their adult partner and claims to be a “good father” (99% of kids are aware of the abuse in their homes).
- Interferes with mom’s relationships or bonding with children.
- Contradicts mom’s rules
- Changes rules
- Exhausts mom
- Rules by fear
- Blames mom and instills blame of mom in kids.
- Blames kids and uses kids’ behavior as an excuse to batter.
- Is great with kids, which is great but sends mixed messages and rarely occurs without other behaviors from this list.
- Looks a lot like other parents, especially from outside the home.
- Makes and goes back on promises.
- Does not allow kids or mom access to services or necessities like school, medical treatment, counseling, food, diapers.
- Isolates mom, which leads to, among other things, lack of the support every parent needs.
- Isolates kids (moves often, no phone, no friends over, no activities, embarrasses kids and mother in front of others.
- Is drunk, abusive, and/or violent when children’s friends come over.
- Puts mom down to undermine children’s respect for her as a parent.
- Convinces partner that she is a bad mom.
- Has unrealistic, inconsistent, or developmentally inappropriate expectations for kids.
- Expects mom to “parent” abuser.
- Views parenting as “babysitting”.
- Neglects the children, does not cook or clean.
- Puts kids in middle of the abuse either physically or emotionally.
- Uses kids to get as mom (custody fights, kidnapping)/
- Allows access to kids by unsafe people, especially if pimping, dealing, or using.
- Has weapons.
- Threatens to kill or hurt mom, kids, or pets.
- Hurts or kills pets.
- Abuses to cause miscarriage
- Puts kids in dangerous situations (drives recklessly, breaks glass during fights, forces homelessness).
- Destroys things
- Uses and encourages racism, homophobia, sizism, ageism, sexism, and other forms of oppression.
- Requires mom to parent abuser’s way or sabotages her attempts to use her own style.
- Specifically, requires mom to use more violent discipline than she would like.
- Punishes children for walking away from a fight.
- Disallows feelings or has a double standard.
- Uses alcohol or other drugs.
- Pimps mom or kids.
(Back to Parenting Groups)
Focus Program - Challenging Offenders To Break Through Denial
Many offenders choose to repeat behaviors that have short term benefits and long term destruction. The short term benefits create a self reinforcing cycle or pattern of behavior.
These classes are designed to challenge clients to identify their thinking about principles, rules, actions, and results for living. What they will discover is that they get what they get, because they continue to abide by a faulty set of principles and rules that guide their lives. This process includes the identification of Short-term and Long-term consequences, as well as goals for their next step.
Appropriate referrals include:
- Any client who has been denied services by other programs due to their high level of denial and lack of cooperation.
- Any client who has been non-complied by another service or program due to lack of cooperation.
- Any client who appears angry and/or belligerent and does not appear appropriate for another service at this time.
- Any client who needs increased sanctions due to probation violations.
Please note: This service is not limited to strictly D.V. Offenders.
Offset Program - Violence Intervention for Youth
The OFFSET program is a program designed as violence intervention for juveniles. Adolescents are referred to this program because at least one person their life is concerned about their choices for aggressive and violent behavior. This program is designed in a group format so that the youth can begin to learn about respect and equality along with others who have make similar choices, however individual sessions can be set up depending on the youth's needs.
Giving and receiving feedback are important parts of this process, and youth are expected to participate. The truth about abusive and violent behavior is that people use them to scare others and gain advantage over them. Violence is not a mental illness or substance abuse problem, it is a choice made by one individual. Throughout the OFFSET program, adolescents are offered information to assist them in beginning the process of challenging their current belief system that allows them to be abusive and violent. One challenge is to begin to identify thoughts as they occur and to uncover why that is a belief.
Sample List of OFFSET Assignments
(More Assignments Included in Curriculum)
Exercises (In Group)
- Tactics: Avoiding Responsibility and Accountability
- It's Not Anger: It's Power and Control
Homework Assignments Presented (In Group)
- Part I Where's My Focus? Identifying My Self Talk
- Part II Where's My Focus? Slowing Myself Down and Focusing on Myself
- Identifying My Cycle
Domestic Violence Intervention Facilitator Training
- Solutions Facilitator Trainings
- Do you need specialized training?
- Up-coming trainings offered by Solutions
- Book the Solutions Staff to come to your conference
Solutions Facilitator Trainings
Solutions Facilitator Training programs focus on:
- Gender Issues
- Group Approach
- Language of Violence
- Emotional, Social & Psychological Abuse
- Power & Control
- Financial Responsibility
- Identification of A&D Issues and Intervention
- Identification and interruption of cycles and patterns of violence
- Identification and intervention with personality disorders
- Introduction of Egalitarian Behavior
(Back to Domestic Violence Intervention Facilitator Training)
Do you need specialized training?
Absolutely! At a minimum, 200 hours of one-on-one supervision is recommended for the first year. In addition to a minimum of 150 hours (divided) of education and training in the following areas:
- Victim advocacy
- Substance Abuse in Relation to Domestic Violence
- Domestic Violence within the context of the Power and Control Model
- Effects of Domestic Violence on Children
- Oppression Theory
- Recognizing risk factors relating to homicide, suicide, domestic violence, self- mutilation, prior hospitalizations, closed head injuries.
- Diagnosis and treatment of personality disordered clients
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Court procedures
- Child Abuse
- Group counseling or group work
- Grief & Loss
- Racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia
- Multi-cultural aspects of Domestic Violence
- Gender specific aspects in the development of violence
- *24 hours of continuing education is recommended, once you have met the minimum qualifications.
(Back to Domestic Violence Intervention Facilitator Training)
Up-coming trainings offered by Solutions
(Back to Domestic Violence Intervention Facilitator Training)
Book the Solutions Staff to come to your conference
(Back to Domestic Violence Intervention Facilitator Training)
- Case Management Services
- Court Testimony
- Importance of Coordinated Community Response
- Statistical Data Collection
Case Management Services
Importance of Coordinated Community Response
Statistical Data Collection
(Back to Program Consultation)