Men are not by nature bad communicators.
Men will make decisions about how, when and how much energy they put into conversing with others. I have met a number of men who are incredibly well spoken in the public world, but struggle to clearly sort things out in their private lives.
As Harold said…
“This was my second marriage. I wasn’t a good communicator. I could talk at work and speak in public but one-to-one I was hopeless.”
In Harold’s case it is not a matter of having a lack of skills to communicate… The problem was his beliefs about putting the same energy into talking at a personal level. So what stops these same men effectively communicating with their partners and others?
Understanding why men use abuse and violence can be tough!
All of us know that behaviour is often learnt from what we see, hear and experience as children, however people often have judgemental views and attitudes about men who are abusive.
To truly make a difference in our own lives and the lives of our families we must get away from the idea of being punitive.
In the above clip you will hear from several men who have all gone through family violence programmes. In the clip they discuss their experience of perpetrating violence and abuse within their families and offer some insight into some of the factors that may have contributed to the abuse.
After viewing the media clip consider the reflection questions below...
To develop and maintain a truly intimate relationship requires you to see the other person as different but equal. This is an on-going struggle in the best of relationships and reflects the nature of close relationships. Our society encourages judgement and labels about people based on all sorts of false information and erroneous beliefs.
Harriet Goldner Lerner gives us a clue to what intimacy means:
For starters, intimacy means that we can be who we are in a relationship, and allow the other person to do the same.
‘Being who we are’ requires that we can talk openly about things that are important to us, that we take a clear position on where we stand on important emotional issues, and that we clarify the limits of what is acceptable and tolerable to us in a relationship.
‘Allowing the other to do the same’ means that we can stay emotionally connected to that other party who thinks, feels and believes differently, without needing to change, convince, or fix the other.
An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices, or betrays the self and each party expresses strength and vulnerability, weakness and competence in a balanced way.
The Dance of Intimacy, Harriet Goldner Lerner, p. 3
Understanding... Truly understanding the effects of abusive practices on others is a great 'first step' towards positive change
As a way to understand family violence from the victims point of view, listen to Patrick Stewart talk about his experience of domestic violence and how it has deeply affected him both as a child growing up in violence and today as an adult.
After viewing to the media clip consider these reflection questions…
Violence and abuse do not just happen!
They are always, every time, choices we make. To test this, try the following True/False questionnaire…
Have you been conned?
Like many men, you may have been conned by the Old Rule Book (and the family you grew up in) to behave in certain ways. Like any con, it loses its power once it’s exposed. Once you see the situation for what it is you are in a strong position to make other choices – that is… the choice to make a change!
Human nature is a tricky thing because it invites you (wants you) to act in the same ways and do the same things to resolve a problem. What this does, is gets you stuck even more. When you understand where your patterns of behaviour come from and what around you is supporting these behaviours, you’re in a good position to rewrite your own story.
The Old Rule Book was made up of the following ideas…
If you are here you are either struggling or know someone who is struggling with abusive practices. Over the past 30 years I've worked with literally hundreds of men who have struggled to overcome the lesson they learnt in their families which is...
“Abusive practices are okay and work to get you what you want.”
I want to say that despite the messages we get as men that 'using abusive practices is okay', abusive practices are bad news for everyone and impact on everyone involved in negative ways. The good news is that these are learned behaviours and with persistence and effort it is possible to overcome these and have a good life. A good life has huge benefits for us as men and for all of the other people in our lives.
Ken McMaster (MSW Hons, CQSW, MANZASW) has a thirty year history working at the cutting edge of intervention work with men who are violent and who sexually abuse.
Suzi Hall (M.A. Psych) has a background of working in child protection and forensic interviewing of children with Child Youth and Family Services.
Matt Williams (BTcLn, NCALNE) has a 15 year history working within the social service and criminal justice sectors as a trainer and program developer.