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MENZ Issues July – August 2000 Volume 5 Issue 6

Diane Vivian and two other members of Parenting Second Time Around visited our Monday meeting on 31st July.

Carrots or Sticks? Options for Preventing Domestic Violence. Excerpts from a paper presented at the Public Health Association conference in Palmerston North 24th – 26 July 2000.

Reducing reoffending: what works now An extensive review of a number of meta-analyses of correctional interventions which are effective in reducing reoffending (of all kinds) was conducted in 1992. In general, meta-analyses conclude that a cognitive behavioural approach is the most effective intervention

Quote from the Department for Courts Dec 99 Domestic Violence Programmes: Southern Regional Plan. "a ‘one size fits all’ intervention model will be ineffective."

Refuge wants extra $4,000,000.00 Women’s Refuge chief executive Merepeka Ruakawa-Tait said present funding levels were unacceptable.

Stopping Violence Programmes: Enhancing the safety of battered women or producing better-educated batterers? In the December 1999 NZ Journal of Psychology, Neville Robertson from Waikato University reviewed some of the literature on the effectiveness of treatment programmes. The only treatment model that Robertson endorses is the pro-feminist approach, particularly the Duluth model.

‘Innovation should not be Treason’: Domestic Violence Interventions Sumary of a paper by Robin Wileman, from the Australian and New Zealand Family Therapist, The illusion of expertise is particularly apparent in the government-funded domestic violence services in Australia. Their ideologically-driven sociopolitical analysis of domestic violence has curtailed the options available to their client group and stymied creativity in the field.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Endemic Starship children’s hospital specialist Dr Rosie Marks suspects the prison population is littered with victims of foetal alcohol syndrome.

Alcohol Abuse by Young Women Increases Alcohol Advisory Council chief executive Dr Mike MacAvoy says: "Young women are rapidly converging on young men in the drinking pattern stakes. We now basically have double the population of people drinking in this fashion and double the problems arising."

Treating Men Who Batter WomenScientific American. Treatment programs for men who abuse their partners are proliferating, but effectiveness remains unclear. A growing body of research about the types of men who batter may help experts tailor treatment more precisely.

Tim Barnett Biased? There were calls for MP Tim Barnett to be sacked from heading the select committee looking at proposed changes to the Matrimonial Property Act because he is gay.

Attack on Christian Heritage over Matrimonial Property Bill  "Graham Capill’s bigoted and homophobic statements about the Matrimonial Property Bill would not have been out of place in the Spanish Inquisition or other injustices undertaken in the name of Christianity" said Paul Prestidge of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services.

Power and Control  We have reported previously that at the National Network of Stopping Violence Services 1999 AGM, three groups who had unresolved disputes with the National Co-ordinating Committee had their membership suspended. A number of agencies have contacted us since then to express their concerns about the administration of this organisation. We were able to obtain several documents relating to the meeting.

Letter from a NNSVS Member Agency. We too are concerned at the state of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services, myself especially so since I was at that AGM lynching last year. We are just holding our ground until we hear more about the new organisation being set up. Then we will seriously consider leaving NNSVS, as we have all had enough of the antics of head office and their "acceptable rules of conduct".

Notes from the AGM records While almost every other decision at the meeting was recorded as "accepted by consensual agreement", only 14 of the 33 member agencies voted to suspend the three non-complying groups.

Not in the minutes When asked if information was circulated to member agencies about what was going on, Reese Helmondollar replied: "The NCC don’t want to wash dirty linen in public by circulating information on complaints or membership issues."

UK Stopping Violence Programmes Axed  There is no cure for men who beat their wives or partners, according to new United Kingdom Home Office research. As a result, Home Secretary Jack Straw will remove funding from therapy sessions designed to treat men guilty of domestic violence and instead put money into refuges, stricter enforcement of injunctions against offenders and electronic tagging to keep violent men away from their former spouses and girlfriends.

Book review: Ghosts from the Nursery by Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S Wiley. This 1997 book is an extensive enquiry into the origins of violent behaviour.

Legalising Theft The article on the front page of the New Zealand Herald 24th May 2000 explains proposed changes to matrimonial property law to allow judges to move away from the present 50:50 split "to compensate women for missing out on careers while raising children", in other words, to redress income gaps seen to have been created within the relationship.

Telling Tales to Stamp out Bullying  Since mid-1999, Barbara Faithful of CREDO has been involved in an ongoing saga on school bullying in the letters page of the North Shore Times Advertiser.

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2nd Time Parents visit Men’s Centre

Diane Vivian (on right of picture) and two other members of Parenting Second Time Around visited our Monday meeting on 31st July. We heard that in less than two years they have been joined by thousands of grandparents who have taken over the care of children whose parents are not able to do so adequately.

Diane told us that in most cases, the arrangements with CYFS was "informal", which often leads to protracted and costly court battles. There is little support given to these sometimes elderly people, who are often dealing with traumatised and disturbed children.

Contact details:

PO Box 34 892

Birkenhead

North Shore City

E-mail: parenting2@xtra.co.nz

Carrots or Sticks? Options for Preventing Domestic Violence

Excerpts from a paper presented at the Public Health Association conference in Palmerston North 24th – 26 July 2000. Published as a chapter in: ‘Inclusion or Exclusion: Family Strategy and Policy’, edited by S Birks, Centre for Public Policy Evaluation Issues Paper No. 9, Chapter 3, 28-36. [download complete chapter in PDF].

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The predominant model promoted by some leaders in the field of domestic violence over the past decade has been that violence is the tactic used by an abuser to maintain power and control over his partner. Spousal abuse is claimed to result from a power imbalance and lack of equality between men and women in marriage. Men are said to hold the power in the relationship, and the violence that occurs within marriages stems from this male dominance, i.e. domestic violence is a male abuse of power and control, whereas women use violence only as a last resort from a position of powerlessness.

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Programmes to address the problem therefore focus on bringing the male assailant to justice, imposing and enforcing legal sanctions, and re-educating males while providing advocacy and support services for the female victims. The model adopted has been the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (known as the "Duluth Model") which is seen as putting feminist theory into practice.

An alternative to the ‘power and control’ Duluth model is the interactional theory which views violence in terms of relationship dysfunction and sees the key to its management as the involvement of the family and the community. The pro-family or ecological systems model focuses on the relationship rather than the individuals and on giving family members other strategies to violence in resolving conflict. A couple are an interrelationship of individuals in an interactional system, and effectiveness depends on the success of interaction within that system.

There is a strong argument that use of violence is not the act of a powerful man, but rather the act of one who finds himself relatively powerless. Rather than our institutions sanctioning male violence against women, there are strong social taboos against men hitting women. Traditionally men have been socialised to protect rather than assault their wives. On the other hand, there is a covert tolerance of women hitting men in our society in certain circumstances. A woman slapping a man on the cheek if he says something insulting or if she feels indignant about his behaviour is often portrayed by the media as an acceptable or even a desirable response. The Dunedin cohort study found that while women from all social strata were liable to be violent, there was an increased risk for men to be violent if they were poorly educated, unemployed, and lacked social supports. The data support the theory that most men are socialised not to hit women, and many do not retaliate physically even when women attack them. Men who use violence against their partners tend to be those with very little social power and resources to cope with stress. Another study found that male violence is much more likely to occur in relationships where the woman has a much higher socio-economic status or occupation than the man.

The current response to domestic violence, including the DV Act 1995 and the types of interventions provided under the Duluth model, was heavily influenced by the Hamilton Abuse Intervention Pilot Project (HAIPP). This initiative defined domestic abuse as the psychological and physical abuse of women by male partners, and advocated automatic arrest and prosecution of men accused of partner abuse, as well as mandatory attendance at stopping violence courses. This definition was also used by the New Zealand Justice Department ‘Hitting Home’ study which reported a prevalence rate of 21% of men physically abusing their female partners, but did not examine women’s behaviours towards men and is commonly used by service providers in the field.

There is a large body of research that cognitive-behavioural interventions teaching communication and problem-solving skills are effective in treating marital discord. This is the conclusion of three meta-analyses of marital therapy outcome literature.

Similarly, several meta-analyses have found that a cognitive behavioural approach is the most effective correctional intervention in reducing reoffending. The most effective interventions utilise behavioural and social learning principles of interpersonal influence, skill enhancement and cognitive change. Strategies that focus on blame or shame have not been shown to be effective.

There are many other contemporary commentators who are emphasising that carrots work better than sticks in changing behaviour. For example, in their book ‘Supporting Families’, Munford and Sanders offer a strengths-based model suggesting that in helping with parenting, it is more effective to stress the positive and offer encouragement, rather than finding fault. Building confidence and a sense of control is likely to reduce the incidence of violent behaviour.

‘Positive Partners, Strong Families’ is an innovative programme using best-practice cognitive behavioural techniques adapted to the New Zealand context. It is based on a pro-family ecological systems model which views interpersonal discord and violence in terms of abusive relationships rather than abusive individuals per se. The programme utilises material from Professor Ian Falloon’s Integrated Mental Health Care model which in turn is based on marital discord cognitive behavioural programmes. The courses are run by specially trained co-gender facilitator teams.

This model does not ascribe to the theory that violence is an issue of power and control; rather violence is identified as frequently emerging in response to a sense of powerlessness and a perceived lack of other options. Teaching alternative non-violent strategies to resolving conflict within intimate relationships is therefore viewed as a means of preventing and reducing domestic violence.

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The feminist ‘power and control’ theory of domestic violence holds men 100% to blame and women blameless and powerless. This simplistic model ignores the interactional aspects of domestic relationships. It is counter to evidence that domestic relationships are diverse and complex, and that women are seldom helpless in the face of violence nor innocent in its commission.

It has led to interventions which have a punitive approach towards men, serving to polarise men and women and enforce the separation of couples. It has restricted and censored other approaches to the problem. This paper challenges the ‘blame and shame’ approach and advocates the development of multiple new innovative ways of addressing the problem, drawing on techniques which focus on individuals’ strengths rather than their failings. ‘Positive Partners, Strong Families’ is one small example of ways to tackle the problem, using carrots rather than sticks.

Reducing Offending

An extensive review of a number of meta-analyses of correctional interventions which are effective in reducing reoffending (of all kinds) was conducted in 1992.

Reducing reoffending: what works now (ISBN 0-477-07631-9). Wellington: Department of Justice, Penal Division 11, McLaren, K. (1992).

In general, meta-analyses conclude that a cognitive behavioural approach is the most effective intervention, a finding supported by large numbers of studies. Garrett, C. J. (1985). Effects of residential treatment on adjudicated delinquents: a meta-analysis. Journal of research in Crime and Delinquency, 22(4), 287-308.

The most effective interventions utilise behavioural and social learning principles of interpersonal influence, skill enhancement and cognitive change. Specifically, techniques shown to be effective include modelling, graduated practice, rehearsal, role- playing and reinforcement. Services shown to be ineffective included psychodynamic and nondirective client-centred therapy; unstructured, peer-orientated group counselling; and interventions based on a deterrence model.

Strategies which do not focus on past events nor award blame are more likely to be effective. Strayhorn, J. (1978). Social-exchange theory: cognitive restructuring in marital therapy. Family Process, 17(4), 437-438.

FGY-S

Courts: Variety of Programmes Needed

Quote from the Department for Courts Dec 99 Domestic Violence Programmes: Southern Regional Plan.

"Factors identified raise questions regarding the effectiveness of a punitive approach in directing respondents to attend programmes and the value of a primarily educational intervention model that need to be considered in any future review of the Domestic Violence Act and Programme Regulations.

The wide range of individual factors which affect programme outcomes reflects the heterogeneous nature of the client groups and strongly suggests that the nature and aetiology of domestic violence is also varied.

Consequently a ‘one size fits all’ intervention model will be ineffective.

The ideal model in the long term would have to be a variety of programme designs that clients were matched to on the basis of assessed need.

This model has implications regarding the need for additional training to up-skill current providers…"

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Refuge Wants Extra $4,000,000.00

In May, Women’s Refuge told the Government that they need to double their four million dollars annual funding. The National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges had commissioned a study called "Improving Outcomes For Women and Children Using Refuge Services". Currently, Refuges provide services to 320 people a week. Economist Suzanne Snively said that if state funding were doubled to $8 million, the number of women and children freed from violence would more than double – an estimated 20,000 women over the next 20 years.

Social Services Minister Steve Maharey said "I cannot announce today there will be any change in their funding…. they will have to go through the [bidding] round with Child, Youth and Family to be able to secure that kind of funding."

Women’s Refuge chief executive Merepeka Ruakawa-Tait said present funding levels were unacceptable. She said to ensure women stayed free of violence, they often needed access to a coordinated range of services over several years. The average cost of providing services to each woman over 10 years would rise from only $20,579 to $25,033, while women and children continuing to live in violent relationships cost more than $1 billion a year.

In mid July, households throughout the country received a reply paid envelope soliciting donations, including an "Appeal Line" that people could phone to have a $25 donation added to their phone bill. This document said that in 1999 their volunteers spent 287,070 unpaid hours helping 5,421 women.

Stopping Violence Programmes: Enhancing the safety of battered women or producing better-educated batterers?

julywmf8.jpg (10996 bytes) Picture: The Duluth Wheel – the basis of feminist Stopping Violence courses

In the December 1999 NZ Journal of Psychology, Neville Robertson from Waikato University reviewed some of the literature on the effectiveness of treatment programmes.

He outlines common methodological problems, and argues that "many evaluations have over estimated effectiveness. There seems to be limited grounds for optimism that programmes of themselves will significantly benefit battered women." He goes on to say that programmes do have a useful role as part of a wider intervention.

He outlines the various treatment models and the reasons he considers they fail. Cognitive-behavioural approaches (for example) are criticised because they are: "value neutral and fail to incorporate gender power issues."

Teaching assertiveness and conflict management skills are not endorsed because they "provide batterers with a greater armoury of skills with which to manipulate and control their partner."

The only treatment model that Robertson endorses is the pro-feminist approach, particularly the Duluth model. He points out that:

"The feminist insight that battering serves to control women partners is fundamental to pro feminist treatment models. Battering is seen as a socio-political issue, rooted in (and contributing to) a socially-sanctioned inequality of power."

Men’s violence, "by virtue of their gender, is more likely to be condoned", states Robertson. "Intervention becomes more a matter of education than therapy, as men are re-socialised into new nonsexist, non-controlling roles."

Robertson explains why co-gendered facilitation is his preferred model: "There is always a risk that facilitators, especially male facilitators, will collude with the batterers. After all, they share with batterers exposure to the wider cultural supports for violence and male dominance."

Stopping Violence Facilitators are advised to "imagine a circle of battered women seated around the edges of the room observing the group."

Innovation should not be Treason’: Domestic Violence Interventions

Sumary of a paper by Robin Wileman, from the Australian and New Zealand Family Therapist, 2000 Vol.21, No.1

The illusion of expertise is particularly apparent in the government-funded domestic violence services in Australia. Their ideologically-driven sociopolitical analysis of domestic violence has curtailed the options available to their client group and stymied creativity in the field. An example is the Men’s Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes in Queensland, where funding is only available for programmes based on the Duluth model. Although this is a popular treatment programme, there is no scientific evidence proving its effectiveness.

Moreover, in defending and promoting the only analysis of domestic violence considered correct, the domestic violence collective is at risk of using against those who disagree with them the same coercive tactics of power and control as does their abusive male client group. Professional judgement may be impaired in such circumstances. For example, the Queensland Domestic Violence Services Network lobbied widely throughout Australia against the sale of the author’s book How to Stop Domestic Violence: A Victim’s Guide.

The Politically Correct Position.

  • Men are 100% to blame for their violence.
  • Women are powerless to effect change in the cycle of violence – only the man bears responsibility for emotional and behavioural change.
  • Separation from the abuser and legal remedies are the only solutions the women can implement.
  • If women are involved in the change process this may lead to the woman feeling blamed and becoming disempowered further.

If domestic violence personnel continue to work within the deterministic ideology of political correctness, and ignore the interactional aspects of these complex relationships, women victims are not only being denied opportunity for positive change but they may be in greater danger from serious injury and even death. Given the complexity and diversity of domestic violence relationships, multiple viewpoints are needed to broaden the range of treatment and management options available to them.

An Alternative view

  • Women are not responsible for men’s violence, but they are responsible for their own behaviour.
  • Women are not powerless to effect change in their partner’s violent behaviour.
  • Women are capable of making the distinction between influencing their partner’s behaviour and assuming responsibility for it.

Whenever an insecure abuser is struggling with the threat of abandonment, he experiences a depth of suffering which is so profound that it feels as if his survival is being threatened. Women victims also may be struggling with abandonment issues following savage periods of rejection, attacks and separations, which paradoxically may intensify their investment in the relationship. Given that attachment behaviour is terminated by comfortable caregiving, it is both callous and highly dangerous to respond to the abuser unempathically and punitively at this time and unrealistic to expect his partner to ignore his attempts to win her back.

Some victims either initiate the violence or respond aggressively to their partner’s controlling and abusive behaviours. If we, as therapists, fail to recognise that, we may exacerbate the situation by seemingly colluding with the women, or worse still, we may fail to warn her of the dangerous aspects of her own behaviour.

In the therapeutic context, the discussion needs to focus on the man’s inadequacies, removing from her the burden of responsibility. When women understand their partner’s major emotional and behavioural deficits, it places them in a much stronger position vis-à-vis their partner. Instead of perceiving him to be a gigantic and powerful monster, he becomes the small tantrumming child he really is, albeit a dangerous one with an adult’s capacity for inflicting destruction. Women can then utilise their cognitive skills to challenge such behaviour instead of being swamped by the effect. How to and when to challenge safely are the keys to women’s empowerment.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Endemic

Starship children’s hospital specialist Dr Rosie Marks suspects the prison population is littered with victims of foetal alcohol syndrome. She says " If foetal alcohol syndrome is a significant factor in our high crime rate and our prison population then we could save billions and billions of dollars – and an unquantifiable amount of human distress – by acting to prevent as much foetal alcohol as possible."

If a woman drinks heavily at a certain time early in her pregnancy it can lead to a child with distinctive facial features. Children may also look normal yet still be affected. Many are hyperactive, cause trouble at school, then go on to a life of crime.

Dr Marks is worried about drinking patterns in NZ women of childbearing age, and says consumption seems to be on the rise. A study published last year showed the number of women drinking to intoxication once a month had risen from 14% in 1990 to 30% in 1998.

Herald April 14th 2000: " Pregnant drinking may fill jails."

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Alcohol Abuse by Young Women Increases

In May this year, the Alcohol Advisory Council announced that a survey of teenage drinking habits showed 50 per cent of 14 to 18-year-olds admitted having five or more drinks in their last session, up from 40 per cent in 1998. It also found 17 per cent had drunk more than 10 glasses. The survey did not have a gender breakdown, but a council study last year found that the percentage women who got drunk at least monthly had almost doubled in the past decade.

Council chief executive Dr Mike MacAvoy said: "Young women are rapidly converging on young men in the drinking pattern stakes. We now basically have double the population of people drinking in this fashion and double the problems arising."

Those problems for women include rape, unwanted pregnancy, and mental health effects. Dr MacAvoy said ready-to-drink vodka and other spirit mixes appeared to have attracted more teenage women drinkers.

Alcohol Healthwatch spokesman Roger Eccles said it was far more socially acceptable today for women to drink large amounts of alcohol as part of the greater role of women in society.

Herald May 5th 2000: " Young women boost booze casualties"

More information:www.alcohol.org.nz

Treating Men Who Batter Women

Scientific American – June 1999

Treatment programs for men who abuse their partners are proliferating, but effectiveness remains unclear. A growing body of research about the types of men who batter may help experts tailor treatment more precisely.

Excerpts from an article by Marguerite Holloway.

Many experts who have been treating men who batter say methodologically sound studies are beginning to show the programs do have an impact. In addition, some studies of men who batter suggest that there are very different kinds of abusers. Rather than lumping all men into one category, as was generally done in the 1970s, researchers are defining batterer types. These findings could have implications for refining treatment programs, and accordingly they are being championed by therapists and experts who have argued that a tailored, integrated approach would be most effective in treating men who batter.

"I am relieved to see this kind of thing emerging. We need to lend a scientific lens to this, as we do to any other psychological phenomena," comments Janet A. Geller, director of the Family Violence Prevention Centre at the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services in New York City.

"Because at one time, men were being objectified as well: they were all batterers because of power and control. That is partially true, but it is too linear an explanation. Human beings are much more complicated than that."

Feminist Legacy

Treatment programs for men who batter originated in the late 1970s, growing directly – and, initially, tentatively – out of the battered women’s movement. Women’s activism drew attention to the horrors of domestic violence, bringing hidden abuse into public view and establishing shelters (a solution that began in England in 1971). After a few years, though, people who worked with the victims of violence began to turn their attention to men, who would often just move on to another relationship in which they would batter again. And they started to see different women coming in who had been abused by the same man, recalls Richard M. Tolman, professor of social work at the University of Michigan, who began working in 1980 with men who batter in Anchorage, Alaska. "People began to ask, ‘What about men? Can we help them? Can they be stopped?’"

julwmf10.jpg (5454 bytes) Photo: Richard M. Tolman Scientific American

The first programs for men were built around what is called the pro-feminist model. Counsellors view violence as an extension of patriarchy, as a way of men maintaining power. Men enrolled in these programs go through resocialisation. They examine how men and women are socialised by looking at magazine advertisements, films and other cultural forces that shape how men’s and women’s roles are defined. And they learn new skills for dealing with their relationships: how to express frustration or anger without becoming violent. The pro-feminist model is the most popular and widespread method of batterer treatment.

The other two methods emphasize either family interaction counselling or psychotherapy. The family interaction approach, which examines the couple’s relationship, is the least common because it has been criticised for being potentially dangerous to the woman: if she complains during a session, she may end up being beaten to a pulp at home. Indeed, 20 states actively prohibit couples counselling for this reason. The psychodynamic model focuses on the batterer’s history and psychological problems and aims to work them out during therapy.

Despite the fact that programs for men who batter have been around for two decades, it has been hard to assess whether the programs are successful. In many instances, the question is moot: 30 percent of the men referred to programs do not show up, and about half those who do drop out. For those who stay, success seems to range from 53 to 85 percent – when success is defined as the cessation of beating according to reports by the woman. But some studies have found that abuse sometimes ceases on its own after the batterer is arrested, without the need for further intervention. And one study found that men who went through treatment became even more physically aggressive.

"I don’t think the data are clear-cut," says Tolman, who has co-authored a review of programs with Jeffrey L. Edleson of the University of Minnesota. "We just don’t know at this point which [programs] are most effective." Tolman compares batterer treatment services to services for psychological problems: "We just haven’t had any stunning success in any realm of psychotherapy. People need to keep that in mind."

When a 1984 study done in Minneapolis found that arresting batterers appeared to be a powerful deterrent, police all over the country began to increase arrests in domestic violence cases. However, the Minneapolis study has been replicated several times, and the results have been conflicting. Other researchers reached the conclusion that arrest was not a barrier; in one study, arrest actually appeared to increase recidivism. The controversy continues even now, with the two authors of the original paper arguing different sides.

To impose some quality control on the burgeoning programs, many states have established standards for treatment. Yet the standards vary widely. In Maryland, instance, the state devised a very general guideline, urging the incorporation of new scientific research and allowing flexibility in approaches. In some other states, however, the standards specify exactly what form of treatment should be used. For instance, Tolman points out that some states mandate the use of group treatment – even though, he notes, it is possible that in some cases individual therapy could be more effective. Many researchers remain wary about the trend toward standards in the face of unproved treatment models.

Another trend that many researchers are glad to see is the growing body of work on the types of men who batter. Rather than follow the purely cultural explanation that men batter because they can and because they need to maintain hegemony, these findings suggest that men batter for very different reasons – and that they can be treated accordingly.

The types generally fall into three main camps, although some finer subdivisions and other categories can be found in the literature as well. The first is referred to as family-only, meaning that these men are primarily violent toward intimates. This group is not well understood, notes Amy Holtzworth-Munroe of the University of Indiana, who has helped define these types. "We don’t know why they cross the line," she says. "They do not hate women, and they do not think violence is good."

In contrast, the other types are less remorseful. The second type is described as generally violent and antisocial. Holtzworth-Munroe says these men are very violent both in and outside the family and are often involved in criminal activity. Men in the third group are called dysphoric or borderline. They are most violent in the family setting, are often very depressed, and can be quite needy and dependent on their wives or partners.

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The full article: " Treating Men Who Batter Women" with many onwards links and references can be read on the Scientific American web site:www.sciam.com

From a sidebar to the main story, titled" The Hidden Violence Against Men":

"We have to take seriously the fact that there are women out there who are using violence," notes Richard Tolman. The controversy about female violence first erupted in 1975, when Murray A.Straus of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire and his colleagues reported that men and women were equally aggressive. The researchers questioned people from 2,000 households and found that 11.6 percent of men and 12.1 percent of women were violent toward their intimate partner. The study was immediately criticized for its use of the Conflict Tactic Scales, a sampling method that does not examine the extent or consequence of the injury or the context in which the violence occurred.

In 1998 the National Violence against Women Survey found that 1.5 million women are raped or physically assaulted, or both, by an intimate partner every year, compared with 834,700 male victims of domestic abuse. But even if fewer men than women are attacked by intimates, some researchers note that they still need to be helped – without draining resources from services for women and children.

Irene Hanson Frieze, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh who has studied female victims of domestic violence, says she increasingly feels that violence against men needs to be addressed as well. A few years ago Frieze conducted a study on violence in dating relationships. Two thirds of the 305 students between the ages of 18 and 22 that she talked with reported some form of violence, and for the most part, according to all parties, women were more violent.

Tim Barnett Biased?

The lobby group Catholic Action has called for Christchurch MP Tim Barnett to be sacked from heading the select committee looking at proposed changes to the Matrimonial Property Act because he is gay.

Mr Barnett said the hearings had been a difficult week as he sat through homophobic submissions. "It would be the same for a Maori MP if they had to listen to racist submissions, or for women hearing statements against them. A lot of fathers (at the select committee hearing) were denigrating women."

Some fathers who made submissions have suggested Mr Barnett name whom he is referring to instead of making a blanket accusation.

Scoop 27th July: " Tim Barnett Should Go"

National Network of Stopping Violence Services Attack on Christian Heritage over Matrimonial Property Bill

"The ‘Christian’ heritage that Graham Capill represents is the heritage of bigotry and persecution that most Christians today have rejected. His bigoted and homophobic statements about the Matrimonial Property Bill would not have been out of place in the Spanish Inquisition or other injustices undertaken in the name of Christianity" said Paul Prestidge of the National Network Stopping Violence Services.

"Thank goodness he represents an extreme view that is not shared by the majority of the population" Mr Prestidge continued.

"The National Network Stopping Violence Services views the proposed Relationship Property Bill as fundamental human rights legislation. We do not believe that it is acceptable to discriminate on the basis of marital status or sexual identity in the matters covered by this Bill’ said Mr Prestidge. We absolutely support the intent of the Bill, which is to promote justice, equity and human rights. We also have total confidence in Tim Barnett as the chair of the Select Committee considering the Bill."

Press Release NNSVS 28th July.

Power and Control

In an Oct-Nov 99 MENZ Issues article: ‘Men’s Leadership Gathering Report’, we discussed the power struggles at the NNSVS 1999 AGM.

Three groups who had unresolved disputes with the National Co-ordinating Committee had their membership suspended. A number of agencies have contacted us since then to express their concerns about the administration of this organisation.

The demands of Political Correctness in the domestic violence industry mean that every one of our informants are afraid to speak "on the record." We were able to obtain several documents relating to the meeting. One participant (not from a suspended group) wrote recently:

Letter from a NNSVS Member Agency

Dear John

I have enjoyed catching up on all the newsletters I have missed from your web site. We are definitely NOT Duluth people here, we are more realistic and therefore non-feminist based.

We too are concerned at the state of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services, myself especially so since I was at that AGM lynching last year. We are just holding our ground until we hear more about the new organisation being set up. Then we will seriously consider leaving NNSVS, as we have all had enough of the antics of head office and their "acceptable rules of conduct". Our guys just want to get on with the job of working with men, without all the feminist PC anti-male bulls**t.

julwmf12.jpg (8970 bytes) PUNCHBAG – Billboard from the 1999 Mensline promotion in Auckland. Photo: Mark Rowley

To comment on the article, as you so rightly state, not all SVS groups are feminist based. Last Xmas when Mensline were showing TV adverts on domestic violence, we phoned with congratulations for them, while our National Office were laying a complaint with the Broadcasting Authority. We are quite often at odds with the National Office.

I also agree with your summation that the AGM was an example of power and control using fear and punishment. It was a horrendous few days, even more so for the affected groups who had been unaware of what was to happen until they arrived. There were, however, a few good men and women present, and I was proud to stand with them.

I also hope that co-gender facilitation does not become mandatory for the very reasons in your article. We would probably not work with that ruling. I believe that male facilitators have a right to choose whom they will work with, and that it does not have to be a woman. I believe the male participants in groups have the right to a "woman free zone". I also believe in a "Men for Men" organisation.

Becoming more politically aware has been a huge learning curve for me personally. I have come to realise over the last few months that it cannot be separated from the business we are in. However reluctant I have been to get involved, it is a necessary part of this work especially with our national network.

Name withheld

Notes from the AGM records

The Constitution of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services specifies that "members receive at least one month’s notice of a general meeting and shall include (sic) an agenda of the business of the meeting and copies of any remits to be discussed."

julwmf14.jpg (6551 bytes) Photo: A North Harbour Living Without Violence facilitator talks to protesters Sept. 1999

When the agenda was sent out in August 1999, it included a report from the National Co-ordinating Committee (NCC) written by the convenor Reese Helmondollar, from North Harbour Living Without Violence here on the North Shore. Under the subheading "Internal Relationships", he said ongoing regional meetings and a wonderful "Sharing Practice Hui" had provided member agencies with valuable opportunities to share, challenge, learn and develop both good policies and good practice with each other. The report concluded: "Refocusing our thinking to put the family at the centre of our work will become one of the major challenges facing all of us as we seek to enhance the way we build the inseparable connection between responsibility and accountability."

The report from Executive Officer Paul Prestidge did not paint quite such a rosy picture. He revealed "we recorded a loss of $24,000 for the year. This is due to the reduction of income, with the end of direct Government funding and the lack of contribution by some agencies. This frustrating lack of money has frustrated our progress in several key areas. An urgent task for the incoming NCC will be to address the financial viability of the organisation."

The hidden agenda

When members arrived at the meeting, some were surprised to be given a revised NCC report which contained a new section headed "Membership Responsibilities". This reminded them that the Membership Agreement adopted by the 1998 AGM provided that membership may be suspended or revoked if all terms were not complied with. It was pointed out that three agencies; Northland Men’s Group, Inner City / Manukau Group For Men, and Men for Change (Gisborne), were not compliant with several of the terms. The National Co-ordinating Committee said they had opted to put the issue to the membership to decide on the action to be taken. They stated: "This demands the priority attention of this AGM".

The official record

The "Nominations for Executive Positions" records one of the two nominations for Convenor, three of the six nominations for National Co-ordinating Committee, and one of four for the Maori Executive came from the three agencies that were suspended on Friday 25th.

The "Annual General Meeting Timetable", advised the Friday meeting was to be an hour and a half discussion on the agenda, reports, remits etc, after which the meeting would split for caucus time – first Maori and Tauiwi, followed by Men and Women. The programme clearly states that the AGM was intended to begin at 8.30 am on Saturday 26th.

However, the Minutes of the Annual General Meeting give the date as 24th and 25th September 1999, and the record begins on Friday morning. The [revised] National Co-ordinating Committee report was tabled to the meeting by Reese Helmondollar together with a schedule outlining member’s compliance with membership responsibilities. This report shows that several other groups had not fulfilled all the terms of membership.

After each agency "had the opportunity to express their point of view", there was only time for one remit to be passed before the meeting broke for caucus discussions. While almost every other decision at the meeting was recorded as "accepted by consensual agreement", only 14 of the 33 member agencies voted to suspend the three non-complying groups. Eight representatives voted against the remit and one abstained.

Not in the minutes

When the issue of suspension arose on Friday, discussion took place as to whether this was the scheduled AGM or did it only take place on Saturday morning? The National Co-ordinating Committee stated the whole 2 days was the AGM. Others thought that some people were only coming on Saturday morning "for the AGM". No record was taken of who was present each day.

One of the main points of contention within the NNSVS is their attempted imposition of a levy on their members to pay for the national administration. One agency has been in dispute with the NCC for a considerable time over this issue, because they were not consulted when the decision was made. MENZ Issues understands that attempts at mediation have stalled because the committee refuses to agree to be bound by the mediator’s decision.

julwmf13.jpg (2357 bytes) Photo: Reese Helmondollar, Convenor, NNSVS Co-ordinating Committee 1999

When asked if information was circulated to member agencies about what was going on, Reese Helmondollar replied:

"The NCC don’t want to wash dirty linen in public by circulating information on complaints or membership issues."

There was also discussion on the minutes of the 1998 AGM, when the women’s caucus refused to accept a man (from one of the suspended groups) nominated for the committee. When challenged as to what right one caucus should have to not accept the nomination of another caucus, Norris Peel (also from North Harbour Living Without Violence) replied: "As women have been oppressed for so long it is only right that the men’s caucus (in NNSVS) have the nomination endorsed by the women’s caucus as this goes at least part way in addressing past injustices."

UK Stopping Violence Programmes Axed

There is no cure for men who beat their wives or partners, according to new United Kingdom Home Office research. As a result, Home Secretary Jack Straw will remove funding from therapy sessions designed to treat men guilty of domestic violence and instead put money into refuges, stricter enforcement of injunctions against offenders and electronic tagging to keep violent men away from their former spouses and girlfriends.

Research into a series of pilot schemes set up to tackle repeat offenders found that only around 25 per cent of men completed the courses, which cost the taxpayer £6,000 a time.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said: "I am not a hardline feminist and I am not against men receiving help, but in many years of experience I have known only one man who has changed his behaviour."

British Association of Counselling, chairman Craig McDevitt said: "It contradicts evidence in my field of programmes which have been successful." However, he continued: "any programme that people have been forced to participate in will have a higher failure rate."

Book review: Ghosts from the Nursery

by Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S Wiley

This 1997 book is an extensive enquiry into the origins of violent behaviour. The authors begin by considering the perspective of brain anatomy. Violent impulses are generated in the brain stem, and the limbic system. Under conditions of extreme threat or rage, the brain is flooded with stress hormones and the rational cortex. Dr Bruce Perry discusses our ability to think before we act:

"Any factors which increase the activity of the brainstem (eg: chronic stress) or decrease the moderating capacity of the limbic or cortical areas (eg: neglect) will increase an individual’s aggressivity, impulsivity and capacity to display violence."

Karr-Morse and Wiley warn that for children with developmental disabilities and or damage (eg attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder), cognitively based therapies may be an exercise in futility. They say that to be effective, interventions need to be directed at the limbic and midbrain levels.

Brain chemistry -the balance of the neurochemicals serotonin and noradrenaline affects violent behaviour. When noradrenaline levels are high and serotonin levels low, there is a propensity towards impulsive violence. The majority of domestic violence is of this type. Low noradrenaline and low serotonin on the other hand result in underarousal, which can lead to far less common predatory and premeditated violent crimes. These people can be the most dangerous.

Around 40% of us inherit a defective gene from our father which makes it impossible to produce enough serotonin. Where there is an additional stressor such as alcohol, serotonin levels can be drastically lowered, and many individuals will act out aggressively. Almost half of American murders are committed under the influence of this drug.

Research provides convincing evidence that violent criminals have poorly functioning brains. Low verbal IQs, attentional problems, impulsivity, poor school performance, inadequate processing of information, inflexibility, restlessness, agitation, and difficulty processing social cues are all characteristics commonly associated with criminal behaviour.

Genetic inheritance -ADHD tends to run in families, however it is not clear if this is because of inherited genes, or genes that have been environmentally altered by exposure to drugs or alcohol. Damaged sperm can result from paternal abuse of these chemicals, as can exposure to numerous industrial compounds. Use of alcohol, nicotine and other drugs by the mother while pregnant has a range of negative effects, depending on the developmental stage the foetus has reached. Prenatal exposure to drugs seems to be an escalating problem

A large Danish study showed children who suffer birth complications together with maternal rejection (eg: when mental illness results in the institutionalisation of a mother) in their early years of life were far more likely to become violent offenders as adults. When parents are depressed, mentally ill, retarded, or otherwise unavailable, it can have a profound effect on their responsiveness, which limits the baby’s ability to learn to regulate physical and emotional feelings.

Several common variables stand out in the histories of children who develop conduct disorders. Firstly the family is rarely ‘intact’. The parents were never married, are fighting, are separated or divorced. Rarely do these children emerge from a loving pair of parents. Second, there is a high degree of maternal psycopathology, especially depression and substance abuse. These children are short-term thinkers, impulsive, without forethought or self-monitoring. A large study in Montreal showed that the ‘behavioural style’ or personality that correlate with highly delinquent behaviour is clearly in place by the time the child is old enough to begin kindergarten. The researchers concluded that violence prevention efforts should target preschool children with ‘at-risk behaviour profiles’. Another study suggests that three quarters of children with clinically significant conduct disorder will go on to exhibit pervasive and persistent social malfunctioning in adult life.

Dr Gerry Patterson, of the Oregon Learning Centre, argues that poor parenting behaviours rather than neurobiology are at the core of antisocial behaviour. His work shows that improving parenting skills can be effective in reducing future misbehaviour, and that interventions are most effective if focused on children as young as two. Defiant behaviour is common and normal in preschoolers, but behaviours that threaten the safety of the child, other children or their property must be met with clear limits. A central lesson being learned during infancy is how to soothe oneself and regulate strong emotion. A child who is left to cry, or whose distress is followed by unpredictable or abusive responses, will be unable to create a mental ‘map’ that anticipates future relief. When this is built into an individual’s personality, learning, as well as relationships can be impaired.

Research on the brain’s adaption to chronic fear and anger suggest that it may be altering the course of human evolution. Not only can changes in hormone levels be permanent in an individual’s lifetime, but the altered chemical profile may actually become encoded in the genes and passed on to future generations, who become increasingly aggressive. There is speculation that the increase in violent crimes committed by females is evidence of what Dr Perry calls "devolution".

Physical brain injury is highly correlated with violent behaviour. Males with problems of aggression in marital and dating relationships have a history of serious head injury between 52% and 92% of the time. The majority of head injuries in infants and children is caused by child abuse such as shaking or blows. These injuries are accumulative, and are hard to detect except in the most extreme cases. Neglect and lack of affection can cause serious cognitive, social and emotional problems. Romanian orphans who spent months in rows of cribs without stimulation show permanent and significant damaged despite being placed with adoptive American parents before the age of three. Children who are deprived of adequate early caregiving due to abuse or neglect are flooding school systems across the country. A study into the effects of maternal depression by Dr T.Berry Brazelton showed that even short term loss of a mother’s affection can have a major impact of a baby. Interestingly, while girls tend to withdraw, boys become violent in their efforts to re-engage with their mothers. Preschool boys with depressed mothers are likely to act out, show more aggression, refuse to cooperate and often have problems with toilet training.

Lack of a father is a subject that gets a whole chapter to itself. In the USA, almost half of African-American men are or have been under the supervision of the criminal justice system, and many are incarcerated. British paediatrician Penelope Leach thinks this may be doing more harm than good. She says:

"The fact that a man is a practising father is one of the things we ought to consider when we’re putting him in jail or not. Because those children have a call on his presence just as society has a call on revenge. Given that knowledge, it seems that the needs of the children ought to weigh far more heavily than they do in our society’s choices about how to best deter and punish crime."

Divorce does not lead to later criminal behaviour by children if it is followed by emotional and economic stability. The loss of parental relationship due to the alienation of one parent (usually the father), or continual parental conflict is likely to lead to future problems. The introduction of a step-parent can be fraught with danger – preschoolers are 40% more likely to be abused if they live with a non-biological parent. Where mothers are highly affectionate with their sons, the marital status of the home seems to make little difference in the outcome for adult crime. The highest levels are found among boys who had both a broken home and an unaffectionate mother.

Fathers have special qualities. Dr Brazelton claims that by watching a video of the moving arms and legs of a baby he can tell whether the father or mother was present at the time of the taping. He says that right from the start, fathers interact differently with babies, being more playful, more likely to stimulate and entertain the infant. Fathers are more likely to hold a baby over a shoulder, or facing out to see the world. They nurture differently, teach and discipline differently. Rough and tumble physical play teaches children how to control and limit aggressive arousal. Father involvement with infants has been shown to correlate with greater social responsiveness, and even higher IQs. Children clearly benefit by a combination of maternal and paternal parenting styles.

The current service continuum is designed to treat child and family dysfunction once full-blown symptoms are detected. Multiple agencies respond to late-stage symptoms of pathology or dysfunction, assess and label these symptoms, and try and help women and children overcome the problems. But it is not a system designed to identify, let alone support, child or family health. In addition to the high dollar costs of using increasing levels of incarceration as a primary strategy for cutting crime, there are high social costs which we are already paying. Families are further undermined when young fathers are put in jail. Children growing up without fathers or worse yet, with criminal fathers, are more likely to feed the same cycle, particularly if they are boys. Prisoners rarely emerge from jail better educated, with prosocial skills or improved job eligibility. The reverse is usually true. This cycle feeds itself in widening circles with each generation, creating a swelling tide of abused, neglected and antisocial children.

Revierwed by: John Potter

Legalising Theft

Re. "Bill labelled gold digger’s charter"

The article on the front page of the New Zealand Herald 24th May 2000 explains proposed changes to matrimonial property law to allow judges to move away from the present 50:50 split "to compensate women for missing out on careers while raising children", in other words, to redress income gaps seen to have been created within the relationship.

The article continues: "It may be that 75:25 will be considered an equitable split…if a judge deems that a mother’s career prospects have been restricted by child-rearing." Green MP Sue Kedgley said the bill would give redress to the parents, mainly women, who "devote years to unpaid full time parenting of their children". Attorney-General Margaret Wilson told Parliament the measures "provide a remedy for that injustice."

This is another example of a feminist agenda taking hold of New Zealand politics – legislating for women to be protected / provided for, while claiming to fight for equality. The above quotes describe what women have missed out on (namely the rewards of the work-outside-home parent), but fail to describe what men have missed out on (namely the rewards of the work-inside-home parent).

There was no mention of ALSO compensating men for missing out on being the primary-caregiver to their children. Perhaps a 75:25 split in favour of the father might be equitable if a judge deems that his emotional prospects have been restricted by being the work-outside-home parent.

Ms. Kedgley did not ALSO talk about the men who devote years working outside the home without the rewards of being primary-caregiver.

Ms. Wilson did not ALSO mention a remedy to this injustice done to parents, mainly men. Ms. Wilson, Ms. Kedgley and feminist groups like the Ministry of Women’s Affairs voiced their opposition to fathers wanting a shared-parenting bill.

Those who do not want the mothers’ child-rearing rewards be shared are appropriately called feminists (a non-gender neutral word), for they do not advocate equality (a gender neutral word). Equalists would never ask to compensate women for their role without EQUALLY asking to compensate men for their role, because they see the pros and cons of both parents’ roles.

Meanwhile, calling the concerns of just half the population "equality" ought not to surprise us as feminists have been doing this for the better part of three decades. What is surprising is the amount of tolerance the average man has for this mockery of equality at his expense. Maybe he still doesn’t understand feminism’s agenda, or perhaps he is just too gutless to confront it.

Joseph Maiello

julwmf16.jpg (9063 bytes)

Telling Tales to Stamp out Bullying

Since mid-1999, Barbara Faithful of CREDO has been involved in an ongoing saga on school bullying in the letters page of the North Shore Times Advertiser. She writes:

"It began with a Devonport Primary School principal shown in glorious colour (21.5.99) with a line-up of youngsters all carefully posed with hands capped to mouths as if telling tales. Indeed the accompanying story actually stated that as part of an "anti-bullying" campaign pupils were being encouraged to "tell tales". However the head, Randall Morris, was then quoted as saying that it was not about telling tales on your friends and fellow students!

He believed it was a "positive move which will help stamp out bullying and empower students. Readers of this report were told that this school was the first official "telling" school in N.Z. Part of the scheme is the training up and appointing of "peer mediators" who resolve playground conflicts etc."

On 7th April this year the paper published a letter from Ms Faithful which outlined her concerns:

"There is a far wider agenda behind this issue than is usually ever revealed; one involving radical social change. It has a most respectable front as an international "anti-violence" and "anti-war" (i.e. pacifism) agenda headed by UNICEF, and is also associated with the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Through "Peace" education and the teaching of "conflict resolution" this agenda reaches into school systems internationally. Locally we have the Peace Foundation’s Ms Duncan promoting it through the "Cool Schools" programme from the U.S.A. With commendable zeal she wants whole schools to be involved. Duncan says: "Because you are not going to change behaviour unless you address the whole culture of the school. The philosophy is a different (one) from the aggressive / competitive ‘I win _ you lose’" etc.

So a quiet but relentless battle of competing philosophies lies beneath all the lofty, fine sounding anti-violence, anti-bullying rhetoric. Only very occasionally is there a hint of the unbelievably twisted dogma propelling it: that "capitalism causes violence"! This all results in the spreading of misinformation in a pernicious psychological war for the hearts and minds of the people, and I see the children as unsuspecting pawns in this insidious process."

The Times Advertiser did not, however print the final four paragraphs of Barbara’s letter, which outlines a process that will seem very familiar to many of our readers:

"Firstly, the problem is inflated. The definition of it is broadened to nonsensical proportions; so, lumped in with genuine and concerning cases of bullying, are trivial complaints such as teasing and exclusion from groups.

Opinions are then surveyed in an often motley array of polls and "’research" which yield a confused mass of "findings". Invariably the problem is "of epidemic proportions" and is announced in emotive, sensationalist style as of a worst case scenario: A 1999 headline read: "N.Z. The world’s worst for violence to youth".

The Government is then lobbied for funds to "fix" it, with resultant opportunities for careers as "advocates…fighting violence", along with associated prestige, study grants, travel, "peace" awards etc.

While I am sure there are many very worthy initiatives tackling many problems in schools I cannot see the anti-bullying programme as one of them."

Barbara Faithful

Fathers’ & Children’s Day Parade

Sunday September 3rd

Time: Assemble 12.30pmBeresford Square (Top of Pitt St) Parade Commences: 1.00 pm To: Aotea Square

Music Awards Speeches Children get a free I LOVE DAD banner

Everyone welcome – bring mum too!

REMEMBER! Men’s Centre North Shore Annual General Meeting:

20th September, 2000

7.30pm at Onepoto Awhina – Northcote Community House

Public Meeting: Lawyer Michael Green QC

author of"Fathers After Divorce"7.30 pm, Friday 8th September $5.00

Glenfield Community Centre

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