Addressing Domestic Violence
"Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior in which one person attempts to control another through threats or actual use of physical violence, sexual assault, verbal and psychological abuse, and/or economic coercion."
Juan Carlos Arean, Futures Without Violence 1
"Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner."
Karen Wilson, Safe Place 2
“If no one in your groups is talking about it [domestic violence], you’re not addressing it.”
Lisa Nitsch, House of Ruth Maryland 3
"Two essential tasks for responsible fatherhood programs are:
1) Motivate men who batter to seek help; 2) Educate men who are at risk of battering partners or children.”
Fernando Mederos, Massachusetts Department of Children and Families 4
Domestic violence is a serious problem affecting families and communities. One in five women experience domestic violence sometime in their lives 5 and more than 15 million children suffer the trauma of witnessing domestic violence each year. 6 The short-term effects of witnessing such violence can include behavioral and physical health problems. Long-term effects can include alcohol and drug problems and the creation of a cycle of violence that spans generations. 7 Men can also be victims of domestic assault in heterosexual or gay relationships. However, national studies point out that most domestic violence involves women as victims and males as batterers. Additionally, women who are victims are more likely than men to be injured or afraid of their partners. 8 Fatherhood programs have the opportunity to motivate participants to empathize with girls and women, while the fathers themselves can play an important role in socializing children and influencing other fathers to be aware of the impact domestic violence can have on individuals and families.
Even though fatherhood programs are not specifically interventions for abusers or domestic violence prevention programs, they play an important role in improving behaviors among men and fathers. Most of the fathers served by the programs have never been violent toward a partner, but the information shared is valuable regardless. In fact, all fatherhood programs can address domestic violence and promote safe environments for children and families in several key ways:
- Establish partnerships with local domestic violence organizations to share clear goals and objectives.
- Work with a domestic violence prevention partner to create a protocol to ensure mutual understanding of domestic violence issues and guide service delivery.
- Facilitate cross-training for fatherhood and domestic violence agency staff.
- Offer education and awareness-building activities to engage program participants in preventing domestic violence and motivating batterers to seek help.
“Parental conflict is one of the strongest predictors of childhood problems. Children are even more damaged when parental conflict involves their father's abuse of their mothers ... They may be hurt physically while trying to protect their mother. They may experience learning disruptions, speech and language problems, attention and behavior problems, and stress-related physical ailments (sleep problems, headaches, rashes, stomach aches). They may be too ashamed or feel too 'different' to interact with other children, or may be aggressive or hostile in their interactions with peers since that is what they’ve learned.” 9
“Men need to join the conversation about male violence and refuse to stand silently by while too many wives, daughters, sisters, and grandmothers live in the constant fear and pain of domestic violence.” 10