Information for Women

What a Man Can Do

There is now a specific program in Coffs Harbour for men who want to stop using violent and controlling behaviour called a Men’s Behaviour Change Program. The Coffs Harbour program is called ‘Engage2Change’ and is based on two core principles:

– Every woman has the right to live their lives freely and safely, and

– Men who have denied anybody this right needs to take responsibility for their actions and choose to change.

The Engage2Change Men’s Behaviour Change Program is always conducted by both male and female facilitators. The program is focused on the safety of women, children and the men who attend.

‘Engage2Change’ groups include 4 x intake / assessment meetings with each men before entering the 12 week group program. The aim of the assessment meetings are to assess the man’s desire for change and his capacity to enter a group program. We aim to run 3 groups per year, commencing in 2016 and are happy to speak with men or women about a man’s attendance.

If you are thinking of talking with your partner about ‘Engage2Change’ we encourage you to talk this through with a female member of our team 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.

For anonymous information and to discuss anything about the program please call us on 02 6568 7657.

The ‘Engage2Change’ program has a dedicated women and children’s specialist staff member whose job is to make independent contact with the partners or ex-partners of men who want to join their program.  Her role is to discuss each women’s sense of safety, see if any family members require support, and offer women a chance to tell their stories or answer any questions they have while a man is attending or thinking about attending the program. Women are invited to discuss issues, concerns or anything they like with the WOMEN’S ADVOCATE, but they have absolutely no obligations to do so.

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. Particularly if abusive behaviours have escalated to physical violence.

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.

Behaviour change is a lifelong commitment.

You are the best judge of whether your wellbeing or safety is improving. You should make sure your judgement is based on an assessment of his actions rather than 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. 

What about anger management?

Although the ‘Engage2Change’ program has an ‘anger awareness’ component, 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.

“If someone knocked on the door when I was pushing her around, I would instantly become Mr Nice Guy, but the second they left, I would start exactly where I had left off.” Steve, aged 37

Men’s Behaviour Change Programs are for men who have a history using violent and controlling behaviour towards partners, 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. Anger management programs do not address the dynamics that constitute domestic abuse and violence within relationship.

 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 a male family member is using or threatening physical violence, we strongly recommend you do not suggest relationship counselling to him.

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