Abstract: To be a Man at the Center for the Treatment of Domestic Violence: Multiple Losses (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

To be a Man at the Center for the Treatment of Domestic Violence: Multiple Losses

Saturday, January 19, 2019: 11:15 AM
Union Square 22 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Ohad Gilbar, Phd. Candidate, External lecturer, Bar-Ilan university, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Rachel Dekel, Professor, Full Professor, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Anat Ben-Porat, PhD, Lecturer, Bar Ilan University, Israel
Background and Purpose: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major social problem and a significant health issue for women (WHO, 2013). Approaches emphasizing different areas of social aspects have been used as models for understanding men's IPV and for developing interventions. According to the "feminist" model, patriarchy promotes social gender inequality, leading to male dominance behaviors and IPV (Dutton, Goodman, & Schmidt, 2006); this paradigm links the socialization of traditional masculine norms with men's IPV. However, the "psychology of men" perspective indicates that demonstrating power and control in general, and within a couple relationship in particular, can be seen as one of the ways in which men achieve and express their masculinity, the expression of which plays an essential role in their masculine identities.  These two central core issues may come into conflict for male IPV users when they seek help. However, to date no study has examined how men who participate in batterer intervention programs perceive their sense of masculinity. Therefore, the present study attempted to understand how men who received intervention for battering perceived ways of achieving manhood in the context of such an intervention at the Center for the Treatment and Prevention of Domestic Violence in Israel.

Method: A qualitative-phenomenological study was conducted. Forty-eight Israeli clients of domestic violence centers participated in the intervention program for six months and took part in comprehensive in-depth interviews in which common themes were identified via content analysis.

Results: The current presentation will focus on two main changes in the clients' perceived ways of achieving masculinity: 1) Losing a sense of manhood when entering the intervention; the participants described how they perceived the intervention as a feminine environment which threatened their manhood and caused them distress. 2) The therapy brings about a recognition of the price men pay for enacting traditional masculinity norms. Towards the later part of the therapy, participants expressed their newfound understanding of how using traditional gender norms brought much pain and destruction into their lives. 

Conclusions and Implications: The presentation will discuss the implications of the conflict between IPV clients' perceptions of failing to achieve masculinity, when entering a batterer intervention program, and the therapists' expectations that these men adopt more "feminine" behaviors. In addition, we will discuss the theoretical explanation for how men's use of power and control to attain inner coherence may serve as the basis not only for their enactment of IPV but also as a potential basis for new nonviolent problem solving strategies in intimate relationship. In addition, in the presentation we will suggest gender-sensitive interventions for men who participate in batterer programs.