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Not an Open and Shut Case
on 5 June 2013
On the hand this is full of wisdom around various types and styles of male domination of women. She also looks into the family background and makes some observations of perpetrators. The links to the wider social world are also constructive.
However it is aimed at the working class domination mode. It would have been interesting if she had looked at the middle and upper classes where DV is also rife. That is perhaps one failing, although perhaps they do not attend the programmes.
Another key issue is the focus is on men as perpetrators and one of the big issues around women centred programmes is they lack insight into how they contribute as mothers to creating male perpetrators. It is an ongoing inter generational dynamic. Yes, some of these perpetrators were sons of mothers. According to the author they automatically go onto become perps. Well not necessarily otherwise we would all be punching our partners. Looking to develop parenting programmes and introduce emotional literacy is the next stage. Within these dynamics everyone believes they are a victim and no one transcends the sense of persecution.
What is missing are the numerous emotional links between mothers and sons. It is touched upon within the text, but only in relation to the perp having a mother who indulged him. However many of the people on the Freedom Programme are also mothers - My question is "How do they nurture their sons so they do not becomes nxt generation perps." After all many Women' Aid/Refuge workers point out that they now see the sons and daughters of the previous victims - something has gone drastically wrong. Alternatively this question is too restrictive - it is not just the responsibility of these underfunded organisations. How do WE ensure these children do not become next generation perps? It includes social workers, drugs workers, probation officers, CPN's, DIP Workers, GP's, Home Visitors, Teachers, Educ Psychs, Counsellors, Psychologists, Therapists...etc
Firstly you have to know something about the formation of masculinities.
Whilst the recognition that women are victims within violent relationships is a huge shift forward from the 1970's where beating her up was "acceptable," there is still a huge gap. The pendulum has swung from a male dominated world where power and violence were applied en masse to becoming victim centred. What are missing are the strands that connect each, as they cannot be neatly separated into sociological boxies.
As for the "excuses" men provide for violence, mental health collapse, PTSD and other forms - there is some kernels of honesty there. This needs further exploration instead of writing it off. Men who try to annihilate women are still operating as wounded children. Emotionally mature men do not need to behave in this way.
Growing up in a family where domestic violence was endemic is a good indicator that the man may have significant issues. Forget all the gumpf at the back around signs and signals. Instead cut to the chase -
"Where did you grow up?"
"What was your family life like?"
Drop these into the conversation and try to hit a nerve of emotional honesty. If he inhabited a life of DV it does not mean that it will turn out he will be a wifebeater. Men can transcend a situation given an "enlightened witness" exists, someone who helped them overcome their past. This does not appear to be the case within the book which is more based upon ACAB rewritten into AMAB.
This leads to parataxic distortions. Often many of the women involved in DV have their own issues around what constitutes an ideal man, as they emerge from families at war or silent monasteries or suffering from long term bereavement.
My question is - sure protect the woman - but what about the men - 12 weeks of a programme where they are stigmatised? Most of them were battered as kids - it is all they know - emotionally battering them with more labels merely washes off the surface. After they have completed they are fully armoured with the terminology.
Sorry Pat but long term therapy for hard men does change them, but you need to know how how and where to find the key. Otherwise it is court orders, shame, new identities, forever looking over your shoulder whilst he moves on from one victim to another.