USE OF THE 12-STEP PROGRAM AS AN APPROACH FOR VIOLENCE

INTERVENTION

 

The 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous has been applied in the

treatment

of male batterers, in group and individual therapies. Its application is

based on several assumptions: a. Similarly to substance-dependents,

male-batterers find themselves powerless over their violence, a situation

which causes constant suffering to themselves and those around them; b.

Recognition of their powelessness and personal suffering can serve as an

initial motivation for entering therapy; c. The behavioral violence

(physical

and verbal) is symptomatic of a deeper "dis-ease" of violence; d. Three

levels of the violence dis-ease are definable - physical, mental and

spiritual; e. Since the 12-Step program relates to those three levels of

the

dis-ease, it can be implemented in the treatment of battering.

Three modular goals were determined for the treatment, in parallel

to

the three leveled dis-ease: a. Defusing any violent manifestation before

it

reaches the powerlessness stage; b. Diverting the attitudes, expectations

and emotions of the batterer away from stimulants to violence; c. Totally

transforming the individual by impacting on his belief system, morality,

attitudes and affect to attain non-violence. The transformation remains

binding as long as the practice is adhered to. Men who attained this final

goal discover the ability to display unconditional love, achieve serenity

and

abstain from violent even in violence-provoking conditions. This

transformation process is beyond limits of the therapeutic intervention and

should be carried over into the individual's way of life.

After a two-year implementation of this program, several beneficial

effects were noted: a. It provides the individual with a structured

value-system which supports him in the face of social norms which enable

violence, and assists him in situational frustrations; b. Since the program

is totally voluntary, it helps the individual assume responsibility for his

behavior, and releases him from feelings of guilt, shame and victimization;

c. The program's spiritual approach offers a solution to the present-day

existential emptiness; d. Its modular structure enables the approach to be

applied flexibly; e. In accord with the 12-Step wisdom, the combination of

newcomers to the group with veterans to it, benefits both.

For substance-dependent clients, the 12-Step self-help groups can

serve as a community-based extension of the intervention. For other

violent

clients it is advisory to establish 12-Step self-help groups focusing on

the suppression of violence.

 

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