Saturday, March 13, 2010

Treatment for Violence Among Couples Should Consider Both Male and Female Offenders, Substance Abuse and the Choice to Stay Together

Treatment for Violence Among Couples Should Consider Both Male and Female Offenders, Substance Abuse and the Choice to Stay Together Effectively treating violence among couples should encompass more than treating men separately for power and control issues, according to a Kansas State University expert. Manhattan, KS - infoZine - Sandra Stith, a professor of family studies and human services, is an expert in intimate partner violence. She said research supports treating substance abuse as a means to stopping violence in some situations, while also considering that women can be violent themselves and that some couples choose to stay together regardless of violence in the relationship. Stith expressed concern about some state standards for domestic violence treatment. "Some standard requirements use particular models that have no evidence of efficacy at all," Stith said. "State treatment requirements are not always based on research but often on ideology and beliefs." She's finding that standards often operate on myths, such as that only men are offenders. Stith said that because men are more likely to be arrested for violence against a partner, most treatment programs target them. "In most of our research we find that although women are more likely to be injured by intimate partner violence, both men and women are often violent," Stith said. "A lot of communities are just putting female offenders in victim services." To read more of this article click here


  1. Statistically speaking on 12% of men are victms of domestic violence. As soon as men start getting on board to solve this problem, there will be more resources for the the men who are victims.

  2. As an expert and actual survivor of domestic violence, National Statistics indicate that roughly 12% of men are in abusive relatonships.

    I agree that more resources need to be available for men, but until men get on board to tackle this problem, the resources for them will remain minimal.

    Insofar as the traditional treatment for offenders focusing on power and control, this is also true because power and control is the primary cause of domestic violence.

    Non-profit domestic violence agencies have to do the best they can with the minimal funding they receive. Until more funding is available to hire licensed therapists and social workers, the non-profit agencies cannot address less common causes of abuse.

    Beth Lowry

  3. Hi Beth,
    Thank you for your comments. IMHO, it's not just men that need to get on board to tackle the problem of domestic violence against men. Both men and women should work to end domestic violence against all people. Only then will we be able to rid our families of violence.
    When we as a society first began to address domestic violence back in the 70's and 80's we women were in a much different place than we are today. Women have come a long way (I know there is always room for improvement but compared to those days...we have come a long way) yet our dv shelter programs continue to work from a philosophy that was born back in the early years of the women's rights movement that of patriarchy, i.e. control and dominance by men over women, being the cause of dv, One philosophy/definition can no longer be considered the end all be all as to why dv happens in intimate relationships today some forty years later.
    Alcoholism was not considered a disease in the 1950's but today there are many who do see it as a disease. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness until a few decades ago. DV may have started out defined as a problem of men beating women but today it has so many more facets than we ever knew back then. Yet our dv social service providers continue to use the original definition in order to provide services to victims (women) and hold abusers (men) accountable.
    I can't tell you how many social service providers and others have contacted me over the years seeking resources for violent women and abused men. Would it surprise you to know that our national helpline receives over 550 calls a month and of those 550 calls 80-85% are from abused men and the family members and friends of abused men? Granted that's not a huge amount given the scope of the problem but then we as a non profit are not that visible in communities due to a lack of funding. As we have become more visible over the years are call volume has raised 10 fold and continues to increase each year.
    Research over the last ten or so years has shown that alcohol, substance abuse and "unhealed" mental health issues play an integral role in why someone may be violent towards their "loved ones." If we as a society continue to ignore this fact and only treat dv as a social problem of men beating women with an occasional thought (and services provided) to all the other victims i.e. heterosexual men and those in the LGBT community many, many victims will continue to suffer and many children (also victims) will grow up with abusers.
    Please know that I do not mean to minimize anyone's personal experiences because I do know that there are still patriarchal men in our society abusing women. However, one theory/definition for why all dv occurs can not explain everyone's experience.
    I started this non profit ten years ago after much thought and research into domestic violence. I am also a survivor and when a friend confided that his wife was mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually abusing him (those were not his words but my definition of what he told me) I tried to find resources for him but soon found out that most of the 2000 battered women's programs in the country denied male victims services.
    I felt pretty powerless to help him and really angry to hear that social service providers were so bias against men.
    In today's world both men and women suffer domestic violence at the hands of their intimate partners. Both men and women should have access to our federally funded dv victims and perpetrators services.

    Jan Elizabeth Brown, Founder and Executive Director
    Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women
    Bus: 207-683-5758
    Helpline: 1-888-743-5754