Workshop for Male Batterers

I was asked about the actual way of my

working with male batterers, utilizing an expansion of the 12-Step

program of AA, which I called it "grace therapy". Here is a

description of a workshop, to exemplify our way.


The workshop lasted 6 hours, divided into four sessions of 90

minutes each, all were held on the same day with only short intermissions.

The atmosphere of the workshop was that of silence. It means

that the attending men kept in silence most part of the workshop.

The significance of that silence is: a. It is a serene atmosphere

created by all of the attenders, thus it is a first-hand experience of

serenity. Once you are in, it is yours - from now on you may struggle

to re-experience it or not. b. It is an atmosphere of an inner work.

Everyone works on himself, for himself, without any sharing of

the results. Thus it is an atmosphere where no confrontation or

any other pressure is impossible. Hence the inner work is

absolutely voluntary - you can go through it, or pretend that you

are in, or even sleep... It is up to the attender only. It creates an

atmosphere of self-commitment and self responsibility. It also

avoid the usual social masks and pretending that are typical to

these men, the majority of them were sent into treatment. There is

no need to pretend when no one is checking your work. But being

among men who are keeping in silence and share that they are

working on themselves honestly and achieving results (the only

short sharing that took place from time to time) is reinforcing.

Another feature of the silence is that it is an atmosphere of letting

go, which means that there is no attempt to control the outer

world, but moving into a role of a quiet witness who perceive the

internal processes.


During the workshop the men sat in a meditation posture (straight

but loose back without leaning backward) and meditated. The

meditation was mostly a guided one - the men meditated

on subjects that were represented to them during the meditation

sessions. The subjects were those of the Steps program - they

went through step one up to step three. It means that they

voluntary faced their points of powerlessness - behavioral, mental

and spiritual points. Special attention was put on the root of the

powerlessness - on the self-centeredness and egocentrism typical

to batterers (physical and/or psychological battering). Thus men

were guided to choose between the principle of egocentrism - a

win-lose principle that mostly led them into lose-lose situation -

and the spiritual principle of letting God direct their life instead of

their ego-centrism. This alternative is usually experienced by a

prayer and also by deeds of unconditional caring for others - an

experience of love, which is an application of the loose-win

principle which usually leads to win-win experience.


In the end of the workshop most men felt quietness which was

new for them. Taking the role of the witness help them to identify

in themselves a new component termed "a solid inner foundation",

that is never drifted by the events. Thus the recognition of it helped

the men to go beyond their powerlessness, without controlling it.

A vital paradox of life.


For some men this experience of the workshop had lasting

results. For others it was a short experience that help them to

know which direction they want.



I hope that this description make clear the nature of our work,

even though it is only a small fragment of our work.




Natti Ronel, PhD

Bob Shapell School of Social Work

Tel Aviv University

Ramat Aviv, P.O.B. 39040, 69978 Tel Aviv



Phone: 972-3-6409592

Fax: 972-3-6409182


About my work here - after a three years experience of adopting the 12-Step

program to the treatment of male batterers, it was proved as an appropriate

intervention. It touches into the roots of violent and aggressive behavior:

self-centerdness, egocentric reasoning and morality and the desire to

control. The relief that the program bring into the life of its participants

has an immediate impact on the relationships between the men and their



An example: A man who was violent against his wife on the background

of financial arguments. He tried to be the only decision maker concerning

expenses (which is quite familiar), and she "rebelled". Her rebellion was by

shopping, much more than they could afford, thus he became angry and

violent. After his initial exposure to our ideology, he made the decision of

"letting-go". He left the status of the one who controls the money. He also

introduced her to their bank mennager, and she got a total control of one of

their accounts. She also got her credit cards back. The results - relatively

very peacful family life and, more interesting, she voluntarily took an

absolute another role - he shared that she confessed of sleeping disorders,

because she became so much worried about their debts. Now she is the one who

is worried about extra expenses...


We have dozens of such an examples....


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