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
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
I S R A E L
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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