We’ve all heard the expression, “Blind as a bat”, right? Most of us believe it. I did. It turns out bats can see almost as well as humans, but they also rely on their advanced sonar capabilities in the dark. This is just one of many examples of “common knowledge” that turns out not to be true.
Here’s another one: the causes of domestic violence are a man’s sense of entitlement, his belief that he should have power and control over her, and a belief that he can get away with it. These reasons have been recited without challenge so often by anti-domestic violence advocates that most people accept them as truth. Except they’re not.
If you know my story, you know that I was sentenced to attend 36 weeks of a batterer intervention program (BIP). My state, like the majority of states, used the Duluth Model as the centerpiece of its programming. The Duluth Model, in turn, uses the above “common knowledge” about the causes of domestic violence to try to reform us from committing acts of domestic violence against our partners.
Entitlement? Male superiority? A belief that my life is more important than my partner’s? I didn’t think that way, and apparently neither did many of the men the original theory’s founders worked with. However, the program staff simply wrote these differences off as the mens’ denial, so the theory lived on and gained strength.
When a treatment is based on assumptions that are not true, is it any surprise that it doesn’t work?
When a treatment is based on assumptions that are not true, is it any surprise that it doesn’t work? First, there is the part about this only being an issue men have. Turns out that belief isn’t true.
Then there are the “treatment” programs. Study after study shows that BIP programs across the country have very little or no effect on the chances that a person in the program will not repeat their offense. This is a triple loss: 1) we as a society are wasting millions on something that is not solving a problem, 2) individuals in abusive relationships are no safer than before, and 3) those who want to change are not getting the help they deserve.
My violent reactions were attempts to stop my own hurt or fear.
Power and control? Sure, I used whatever power I could, including physical force, to try to control what was happening around me. But actions are not the same as causes. What I learned from digging into my own mindset (and with the help of a good counselor) is my violent reactions were attempts to stop my own hurt or fear.
Helping individuals find and heal the emotional wounds that are the real causes of domestic violence is at the heart of our resources.
By determining why certain words or situations felt so hurtful or scary to me, and then correcting the lie that gave them such over-sized power, I was able to respond in better, healthier, non-violent ways. This process is at the heart of the Ananias Guidebook, groups, and on-line course—to help individuals find and heal the emotional wounds that are the real causes of domestic violence.