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“It was embarrassing, it was humiliating,I lost my best friend. Everything I knew switched, switched in a night, and I couldn’t control that. As angry as I was – as angry and hurt and betrayed – I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help. And who’s going to help him?Nobody’s going to say he needs help. Everybody’s going to say he’s a monster, without looking at the source. And I was more concerned about him,” – Rihanna tells Winfrey.

Make sure to read:8 Things Rihanna Needs To Do Now!

Some men who use violence have grown up in an abusive household themselves, but the majority have not. Some come from lower socioeconomic groups and some have problems with alcohol. However, this is not the case for all men who use domestic violence.

The causes of domestic violence include deeply held beliefs about masculinity. Men who abuse members of their family also tend to blame other people, alcohol or circumstances for their violent outbursts.

Domestic violence is an under-reported crime, so it is difficult for agencies to keep accurate statistics. However, the perpetrators of this crime are usually men and the victims are usually women and children. Researchers believe that around one in four Australian women will experience domestic violence at some time in their life.

Although domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status or their racial and cultural background, women who are young, Indigenous, have a disability, or who live in rural areas are at greater risk.

There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ perpetrator of domestic violence. However, researchers have found that men who abuse family members often:

  • Use violence and emotional abuse to control their families.
  • Believe that they have the right to behave in whatever way they choose while in their own home.
  • Think that a ‘real’ man should be tough, powerful and the head of the household. They may believe that they should make most of the decisions, including about how money is spent.
  • Believe that men are entitled to sex from their partners.
  • Don’t take responsibility for their behavior and prefer to think that loved ones or circumstances provoked their behavior.
  • Make excuses for their violence: for example, they will blame alcohol or stress.
  • Report ‘losing control’ when angry around their families, but can control their anger around other people. They don’t tend to use violence in other situations: for example, around friends, bosses, work colleagues or the police.
  • Try to minimize, blame others for, justify or deny their use of violence, or the impact of their violence towards women and children.

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Some men who use violence have grown up in an abusive household themselves, but the majority have not. Some come from lower socioeconomic groups and some have problems with alcohol. However, this is not the case for all men who use domestic violence.

It is commonly assumed that domestic violence is caused by alcohol abuse. This isn’t true. The perpetrator is sober in about half of domestic violence cases where the police are called. Also, not all alcoholics or binge drinkers resort to violence when angered or frustrated.  It is how the perpetrator sees himself and his rights that lead to the violence. If a man abuses his family and also tends to have difficulty with controlling his alcohol consumption, he needs to recognize that he has two separate problems.

Research suggests that while some men who are violent may think about getting help, the majority of them don’t. Some of the reasons men do not seek out help include:

  • Acceptance of violence – a man who thinks that he is entitled to dominate family members, and that it is okay to solve problems with violence, may not believe that he needs help. He may blame the victim for ‘provoking’ his behaviour.
  • Notions of masculinity – the idea of what it means to be a man, for many men, includes silence and strength. A man may avoid seeking help because he doesn’t want to look ‘weak’ or feminine.
  • Ignorance – about half of the men who get help or counselling for their violent behaviour report that they had tried unsuccessfully in the past to find help but didn’t know where to go.
  • Fear – most men who don’t seek help report that feeling ashamed stops them from seeking help.

Regular counseling with a trained counselor can help men who use violence towards family members to understand and change their behavior. Counseling and behavior-change programs focus on examining and addressing the man’s deeply held beliefs about violence, masculinity, control of others, the impact of their use of violence towards others, self-control and responsibility for one’s actions.

The man is encouraged to examine his motivations for the violence and is taught practical strategies, including:

  • Learning that violence and abuse is not caused by anger, but the desire to hurt or dominate others
  • Learning how violent behavior damages his relationship with his partner and children, and how he can behave in more respectful ways
  • Self-talk and time out – the man is taught how to recognize individual signs of anger, and how to use strategies like self-talk and time out. A man can use self-talk messages, such as ‘Anger will not solve this problem’, to remind himself to remain calm. A trained counselor can help a man find his own effective self-talk messages. Time out means walking away from the situation until the man feels calmer. Time out must be discussed with the man’s partner so that both parties understand how and why to use it. However, time out is not an avoidance technique and the man must try and work out the problem at a later opportunity.

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