We all have a role in ending domestic violence
When most people think about how to end domestic violence, what usually comes to mind is helping battered women leave their abuser. And, while ensuring the safety of victims and their children needs to be a top priority, it is unfortunately only part of the equation. That’s because the majority of those who abuse are likely to do so again unless they receive counseling and support to stop their violent behavior.
Through more than a decade of providing partner abuse intervention services, in south and west side Chicago neighborhoods with some of the highest rates of community violence, we have seen first hand the transformative impact these programs can have. Many of those we serve are men who bring their own traumatic history of abuse, having witnessed or experienced it as children. And, even though committing an act of domestic violence is what ultimately brings them to our doors, they are often also struggling with a range of other issues - such as poverty, unemployment, and substance abuse – that can stand in the way of their rehabilitation.
Helping perpetrators recognize and address the factors that may contribute to their abusive behavior is not only essential to developing the skills necessary for building healthier relationships with intimate partners but also their families. In fact, 83% of those mandated to participate in our program are fathers whose desire to be better role models for their children can be a powerful motivator to change.
If we are ever going to put an end to the destructive, intergenerational cycle of domestic abuse, then we must acknowledge the reality that it impacts all of us, regardless of gender, and that the collective efforts of both women and men will be necessary to solve this critical public health problem.
National Domestic Violence Awareness month ended in October but we must commit ourselves to ending domestic violence every month. Let’s support those who have abused in turning their lives around and engage them as partners in the work to create more peace in our homes and communities.
Christine Call, Ph.D., LCSW, Co-Founder & Executive Director
Craig Morris, MA, Vice-Chair, Board of Directors