Stopping the cycle of domestic violence isn’t easy. At the Men’s Resource Center, we know this from listening to men in our domestic violence support groups, and individually, as they tell of the hurt they’ve caused to those they love. The good news is we’ve also seen how these same men can end the cycle of violence and abusive behavior with counseling and support. When a man comes to the Men’s Resource Center for domestic violence counseling, or issues with abusive behavior, we work with him to understand how his actions have hurt his intimate partner, and to take full responsibility for those actions. From there, he learns what it means to be accountable for his actions and to have empathy for others. That puts him well on the path to stopping the cycle of abusive behavior that can destroy his life and the lives of those he loves.
Healing Abusive Relationships
For healing to take place, men need to account for their abusive and controlling behavior and to empathize with the pain they’ve inflicted on their intimate partner.
“Accountability” is sometimes confused with “responsibility.” Responsibility is something for which a person is responsible; something he or she needs to take care of, such as tasks at work or within a relationship. Accountability is that process of assessing how well or poorly a person has handled his or her responsibilities. “Owning up” to one’s actions is another way of defining accountability.
“Empathy” is simply the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes or life situation; to realize how it might feel to be in his or her position. It’s an important skill to have. Most people have some idea of how to do this. But, there are clear challenges in an intimate partner relationship, because our own self-interest and needs can make it difficult for us to see our partner’s point of view. Accountability without empathy limits the chance for individual and relational healing and restoration. A person must have both. And, at the Men’s Resource Center, we work with each person to develop these skills.
Through our men’s support groups, individual counseling, and specialized programs, the Men’s Resource Center helps men discover and learn the skills they need to move along the path toward healthy relationships. We offer phone counseling sessions for those who can’t physically access us, or prefer doing some counseling from their home or car. And, for men who would rather “do it themselves,” or prefer to get a head start, there is our self-help book, Stop Hurting the Woman You Love: Ending the Cycle of Abusive Behavior. Contact the Men’s Resource Center, for more information about these and other services.