There are special programs for men who want to stop using violent and controlling behaviour called Men’s Behaviour Change Programs.
These are based on two main principles:
- Women and children have the right to live their lives freely and safely
- Men who deny them this right need to take responsibility for their actions and choose to change.
Men’s Behaviour Change Programs are always conducted by both male and female facilitators. Some are open groups: men can start attending as soon as they feel ready to start. Others are run program-style, and men need to wait for the next group to start.
If you are thinking of talking with your partner about a Men’s Behaviour Change Program, we encourage you to talk this through with us first. Raising the issue of men’s behaviour can be difficult and even dangerous so it is best to be prepared in case things don’t go well and to give it the best chance that he will listen.
Is he likely to change?
Men’s use of violent and controlling behaviour rarely just stops. A man can be quite sincere when he promises that he will never use violent or controlling behaviour again. Unfortunately, most men find that they cannot keep such promises without support and assistance from others.
Participation in a Men’s Behaviour Change Program is no guarantee of change. Some men do give up controlling their partner and stop their use of violence. Others might stop their use of physical violence but continue other forms of abuse or control. Men who attend but who don’t make an effort might not change their ways at all. Some men take a long time to change, and others change for a while but slip back into their old ways.
You are the best judge of whether your wellbeing or safety is improving. You should make sure you’re your judgement is based on an assessment of his actions, not your hopes that he could change. You should not base your decisions about your safety on whether or not he is attending a Men’s Behaviour Change Program.
Men’s Behaviour Change Programs in Victoria always have a staff member who’s job is to make contact with the partners or ex-partners of men who want to join their program, to check on their safety, see if they need support, and offer them a chance to tell their stories. Anything that women or children tell the worker is confidential.
What about relationship counselling or mediation?
Relationship counselling is based on both parties having a reasonably equal distribution of power. If your partner is using violent and controlling behaviour, you probably won’t be able to make fully free decisions or act on your own needs.
Until you feel safe enough to talk about your own needs, feelings and perspectives, relationship counselling isn’t going to work for either of you.
If your partner or male family member is using or threatening physical violence against you, we strongly recommend you do not suggest relationship counselling to him.
“Men’s behavioural (and attitudinal) change can be conceptualised as one of a number of strategic objectives towards the fundamental aim of… safety, wellbeing, human rights and dignity of women, children and others affected by men’s use of violence.”
NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice, 2012.
What about anger management?
Stopping the use of violent and controlling behaviour is about a lot more than managing anger. Men who use violent and controlling behaviour towards their partner often don’t use it towards anyone else. This is why we encourage men who use violence to participate in a men’s behaviour change program and not an anger management group.
Men’s Behaviour Change Programs are for men who using violent and controlling behaviour towards women or children. Some of these men might have a problem with expressing angry feelings. Others might be experiencing difficulties expressing other feelings, such as fear, anxiety or frustration.
How to contact us
For an intake appointment, further information or anonymous conversation please call us on (02) 6563 158. Alternatively you can use our contact form to send as an email enquiry.