Group work with domestically violent men: A practitioner's guide

Donald H. Scherling (2000)

Male violence continues to be a major public health problem in all levels of society. Despite increasing exposure and progress in interventions, it remains a major cause of fear, distress, injury, and even death for women, children, families, the abusers themselves, and other males. This dissertation presents a description of outpatient group treatment for male batterers with a primary focus on violence as it occurs in heterosexual couple relationships and families. The group was designed and implemented to fill a gap in helping systems that is not generally provided either by legally mandated batterer's programs or by other mental health and psychiatric agencies. Since batterer's programs generally serve only those men who are involved in the criminal justice system as a result of arrest, many men in need of help remain untreated. In addition, most of the men who use violence in their adult relationships were themselves victims of severe violence and abuse. This dissertation presents a model that makes use of this paradoxical victim-to-abuser experience, while directly addressing accountability for current violent behavior. While it borrows heavily from established and proven batterers' treatment programs and occurs in an outpatient setting, this paper is not intended to describe methods of treatment tailored to a specific setting (prison, jail, court-mandated batterer's program, victim shelter). The primary purpose is to sufficiently extend and generalize the experience and clinical methods used in this group that they may be applied in a variety of settings. To accomplish this generalization Chapter 4 is written in a style that is intended to make it more interesting and accessible to a wide range of providers who would not normally read the more academic, technical, research literature.