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«Evaluation of Three Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions: FVEP, EXPLORE, and EVOLVE Stephen M. Cox, Ph.D. Professor Pierre M. Rivolta, Ph.D. ...»

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Summary: Every session starts with the same check-in procedure which relies upon participant honesty to disclose personal information about their struggles. It also provides participants with the chance to talk about how their lives are and how they are applying the knowledge they acquire from group. Group members are encouraged to challenge each other when using minimization, denial, justification, or externalization of blame for their actions. Initial sessions lay the framework for the most essential tenets of the program. First and foremost are the legal definitions of domestic violence and intimate violence and the laws that must be abided by according to CT General Statutes. Broadly educating the group about the harmfulness and progression of abusive behavior and all of the different forms it can take are identified.

Immediate, simple coping mechanisms are emphasized as ways to break the cycle of violence and take a time-out so that anger does not lead to aggressive behavior.

Cognitive restructuring is the next big component of EXPLORE. Before any real meaningful behavioral changes can be made, the emphasis is on targeting the cognitive distortions that may have led these individuals to commit domestic violence against their intimate female partner.

Rebuilding trust and establishing personal accountability by understanding and taking ownership of the ways that their abusive, controlling, and violent behavior has impacted their partner are cornerstones to the program. Once the participant truly accepts responsibility, topics can be introduced that inhibit changes in behavior such as utilizing positive self-talk to combat negative Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University thoughts and feelings. Substance abuse is addressed for only one session which is far from adequate considering its overall influence as a comorbid issue to many of the concepts this program acknowledges.

Socialization is the next topic covered highlighting the significance of cultural influences, gender roles, familial influences, and relationship roles as well as the effect of other institutions that shape thinking patters and behaviors. At this point, the curriculum incorporates materials from the EVOLVE program in sessions ten through sixteen mostly for role play and fictional scenario illustration. In sessions thirteen through nineteen, the effects of domestic violence on the victim are examined. Skills such as developing empathy for the victim and understanding domestic violence from the woman’s point of view are emphasized through role play and hypothetical scenarios to show a range of situations usually starting with the most detrimental and violent and working its way towards what a healthy relationship should embody. Developing compassion and equality for their partner is the cornerstone to these middle sessions. Next, parenting skills are incorporated into the lesson plan to help the group understand that the domestic violence that has been occurring in their homes may have caused a number of harmful effects on their children.

The last component to EXPLORE is teaching communication skills that will hopefully help to foster a more positive and non-violent atmosphere in the home. Additionally, the program does attempt to prepare individuals for the possibility that their intimate relationship/marriage may be over, therefore, crafting a positive relationship with their former spouse/partner in cases where children are involved are stressed very strongly. Skills such as active listening, non-coercive, assertive communication, as well as implementing a cost-benefit analysis before acting are taught through more role play and scenario dialogues. Lastly, healthy ways to handle stress management are discussed and a number of healthy relaxation techniques are presented. The program is concluded with an overview of the cycle of violence and how these negative concepts can be cognitively transformed into healthy, pro-social behaviors.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University

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A 26 week 52 session classroom based educational program for physical abusive men consisting of two weekly sessions over twenty six weeks with the option of an additional twenty six weeks of programming once per week if ordered by the court. Twenty three weeks of “ongoing education” courses and twenty three weeks of “change group” sessions. The ongoing education module includes sessions devoted to core curriculum activities: brief lessons, exercises, discussions, role plays, and short videos. In change group, the group will be able to practice new skills intensely and discuss how they are putting what they are learning into practice in their daily lives.

Ongoing education group topics include: what kind of man do you want to be, managing my feelings, effects of violence on victims, communication and listening skills, fatherhood, sexuality and violence, aggressiveness, passiveness, and assertiveness, hot topics and money, compromising about difficult issues. The ongoing education component provides men with the building blocks they will need to live a non-violent and non-abusive life in their current and future intimate relationships. Most ongoing education modules are illustrated using role-plays and scenarios. Each lesson is paralleled with change group in which the men will review homework assigned in the ongoing education segment. A discussion about implementation of the items discussed in each lesson will be facilitated by the clinician. Change group is about practical application. By taking topics discussed in the ongoing education component and bringing them into real life scenarios that the men may be dealing with at home, it keeps the seeds of change planted by continually reinforcing the benefits and acknowledging the challenges that each topic may produce.

Orientation sessions (first 3 weeks x 1.5 hours/week) are conducted establishing group rules, gaining familiarity with each other, and teaching fundamentals of non-violent, non-abusive behaviors, and promoting acceptance of responsibility. Orientation is very one sided, there is little open ended discussion. Focuses on the simple topics such as time out steps and using positive self-talk as well as a brief overview of CT laws. Orientation lays the framework and plants the seeds of change that will be necessary for successful program outcomes. Once orientation is completed they may enter an existing group.

Manhood and oppression: What kind of man do I want to be? (5 lessons) Purpose: This unit provides a basic understanding of manhood and its connection to violence and coercive control that will be used throughout the program. Identify aspects of manhood within their race and culture which challenges men to adopt non-violent and respectful relationships which respect their partners’ self-determination.

1) Help the men identify different styles of masculinity in their culture and to explore their choices and understandings about manhood in ways that are culturally sensitive.

2) Using role-plays to facilitate acknowledgement of women’s rights.

3) Scenario’s describing difficult situations and coping methods are provided.

4) Role-play confronting the scope of violent behavior, acknowledging the impact of their behavior on their partner, reviewing ways in which men are oppressive and abusive towards women.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University

5) Role-play which has men reflect further about the consequences of choosing to be violent or non-violent and to think about how different choices about using violent or non-violent behavior can have far-reaching impacts.

Managing my feelings (4 lessons) Purpose: To help men develop more emotional self-awareness and to teach them to use this awareness to make more informed and responsible choices about their action in the face of intense and difficult feelings. Special attention will be given to jealousy since clinical experience suggests that many of the most severe batterers experience acute jealousy or persistent insecurity about a partner’s fidelity or about whether she truly loves him.

1) Developing emotional self-awareness and identifying underlying belief systems and cue feelings that trigger abusive behavior.

2) Connecting body sensations and feelings and understanding danger zones. Establishing a connection between the danger zone and substance abuse.

3) Cue events body sensations feelings core beliefs. Capacity to “step back” and change behavior.

4) Understanding the differences between aggressive, passive, and assertive behavior.

Identify new and enhanced ways to interact with others that are neither aggressive nor passive, assertiveness is stressed. Shift from all or nothing thinking is one of the hardest concepts and skills for men to understand, most abusive men think in very concrete terms.

The effects of violence on victims (5 lessons) Purpose: To assist men in recognizing the harm they are doing, aid them in developing respect and empathy for their partners and children, and to suggest strategies for interacting in less harmful ways. This unit emphasizes taking responsibility for one’s own actions, and learning to make choices that are non-abusive, non-controlling, and respectful. If they can develop empathy for their families and loved ones, they are less likely to be violent or abusive to them in the future. Issues of separation and divorce are also discussed.

1) The men are presented with factual information about the impact of violence on women and children. The goal is assisting the men in confronting and owning their violence and taking responsibility for their behavior.

2) Developing empathy by placing themselves into the woman’s shoes. Victim blaming is addressed to emphasize taking responsibility. Effects on children and assessing what the men believe women want are discussed.

3) Anger and trust. Understanding the damaging effects of violence on their relationships, recognizing and respecting their partner’s anger and mistrust, and developing strategies for improving their relationships. Difficult issues of partners leaving and men not being able to control that are examined.

4) Separateness. Recognizing their partner’s separateness and identifying and dealing with issues that arise when a partner chooses to end a relationship through separation or divorce. Acknowledging that each partner has the right to have separate activities and interests and this may be out of their control.

5) Assist men in recognizing their partner’s separateness and in identifying and dealing with issues that arise when a partner chooses to end the relationship. Issues of jealousy, possessiveness, insecurity, and abandonment are likely to arise.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University Communication and listening skills (5 lessons) Purpose: Increasing their capacity to listen and communicate more effectively. Teaching listening skills to accurately identify and understand another person’s thoughts and feelings and exploring very fundamental listening skills that men are likely to be uncomfortable using.

Violent and abusive men tend to have the ability to say what they think but are unable to articulate how they or others feel. Emotions tend to be expressed as extreme happiness or anger.

They must learn how to identify and apply various feelings non-destructively in their daily lives and increase their capacity to understand what their partner thinks and feels with an emphasis on increasing their levels of self-awareness and empathy for others.

1) Increasing capacity to be an effective listener by being able to accurately identify how other people seem to be thinking and feeling. Apply listening skills through reflection and paraphrasing role-play exercises.

2) Transferring ability to apply effective listening skills from characters in scenarios to a partner in the group. Describe situation what they said paraphrase reflection.

3) Exploring how violent and abusive behaviors by men who have been violent to their partners create barriers to sharing, trust, and communication. Increasing the insight of the men who have been violent to their partners concerning why women that have been victimized may feel uncomfortable openly discussing their thoughts and feelings with them.

4) Increase individual group member’s self-awareness about when he is being a barrier to open communication with his partner. Men who have been violent to their partners must develop the ability to listen to their partner and accurately understand her feelings, concerns, and aspirations. He must also challenge himself and his inappropriate behaviors.

5) Addresses situations where the other person has done something “wrong” that has really hurt the man. Expanding men’s capacity to compromise or accept irreconcilable differences about difficult or intense issues, especially financial issues.

Fatherhood and domestic violence (6 lessons) Purpose: Getting men to confront their violence based upon how their behavior affects their children and increasing awareness of possible harms caused. Children can learn abuse through from abusive fathers and male children learn to imitate male role models behavior as an adult.

Contrasting the harms caused with examples of how some men who take responsibility for their violence and recognize the impact of their behavior have been able to affect their children ultimately in very positive ways. Crafting a plan to address his abuse with his children and be supportive, cooperative, and respectful of his partner or ex-partner regardless of their relationship status.

1) Examining the impact of fathers and father figures in their lives and considering how abuse has impacted their children and how they might reverse their having modeled abuse to their children. Illustrated through difficult to watch video clips.

2) Considering detrimental influence on their children and developing a reversal plan.

3) Understanding their influence on how a child develops opinions of intimate female relationships. They will be expected to enhance action steps and modify their responsibility plan to address the children in their lives.

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