Does Domestic Violence have a cure?
A recent article in The Mirror relayed the accounts of four men, all of whom fall under that sprawling umbrella term ‘Domestic abuser’. The question posed was whether these men could, in time, be ‘cured’ of their violent dispositions and habituations through a programme that focused on ‘physical violence, psychological abuse and the impact on children’, claiming to have the potential to reform them and restore them to their families. Nonetheless, the controversy is initiated at the first use of the term ‘cure’; it implies that domestic violence is a disease, something intrinsic, uncontrollable, and ultimately blameless. It allows for the abuser to evade responsibility; it is dismissive, and catastrophically so.
In good sport, we can analyze the success stories from this treatment. Stuart and Peter were two men whose marriages were, according to the article, saved from the changes in behavior and subsequent epiphanies that were bought on by the programme. Stuart stopped his abusive behavior when he realized that his children knew about what he did to his wife behind closed doors. Not wanting his children to hate him, he used the thought as his deterrent. However, can this really be classed as a story of success? Stuart’s behavior did not change because of the realization that beating his wife was wrong, but because he became aware that he may lose his children as a result of it. It is evident that there is still something categorically wrong in the pathology of the abuser – the way in which he treats his victim is not changed because he views her differently, but because intervening bodies threatened to take something away from him if he did not stop. By the same token, Peter was an average Joe who one day ‘lost control’ after a long day at work and punched his wife in the face. His progression in the course remains unmapped; nonetheless, his story is another example of these repetitive dismissals of responsibility and blame that have become a staple of the abusive condition. Other stories include men who failed to complete the Domestic Violence Intervention Project, and it can only be assumed that they carried on with their sexual perversities and sporadic beatings on other victims. But with this said, can a course like this really ‘cure’ men who beat women?
Interestingly, the very first thing that the article asks us as readers to do, is to conjure up an image of what we perceive an abuser looks like. To wholly understand the pathology of a violent perpetrator, we must ask ourselves this: What situation or helpless disposition could possibly cause us to consistently harm our significant other? Only in doing this, in trying to imagine ourselves beating back the hands that rock the cradle and hitting the faces of the people whom we swore we’d protect, can we begin to see how completely ludicrous a ‘cure’ is. For in assuming a cure, we establish an excuse, and in doing this, we dismiss the imperative notion of choice. We all have the choice to spit poisonous words or to bite our tongues, to raise our fists or to walk away, to accept responsibility or to say we that we are susceptible to loosing control and evade blame entirely. It stands to question whether anyone reading the article, when asked to think of what abusers look like, came up with a picture of themselves.
Source: Derbyshire, Victoria
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/victoria-derbyshire-domestic-violence-treatment-2345505 [7 Oct 2013]