Showing posts with label intersectionality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intersectionality. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Sublimation: The Weapon of Microaggression

The focus of this blog is on intimate partner violence. This may be the case, but many of the topics I write about, and much of the information I use to discuss these topics is intersectional with other layers of oppression. For the purposes of this post, I am going to use Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) as the example throughout, and will make a connection to current events and other oppressive layers toward the end.

While this article explores sublimation as a concept, as well as how it fits into the behavior of IPV perpetrators, to ground this conversation it's important to begin by defining and considering microaggressions.

Microaggressions, as a conceptual phenomena, were first identified by Chester M. Pierce in 1970 when he put words to his experience of subtle forms of racism that are ever present. A general definition of microagressions are that they consist of communications (verbal or nonverbal) toward people in oppressed groups that subtly enforce stereotypes, imply inferiority for the oppressed person's group, imply superiority of the oppressor group, and are often unconscious or unintentional behavior from someone in a privileged group (several examples can be found here). Further attempts to explore the mechanics behind microaggressions have yielded several additional components to the analysis. Derald Wing Sue proposed three subcategories of microaggressions:

  1. Microassaults: consciously chosen behavior (verbal or nonverbal) by an oppressor to display disdain, disapproval, superiority, or enforce inferiority of an oppressed person. These displays are "subtle" to allow for deniability, or claim that the oppressed person "misunderstood" or took the behavior out of context - making it dangerous to an oppressed person to call out because the thrust behind the behavior is to threaten and cause fear;
  2. Microinsults: demeaning comments and behavior toward an oppressed person that seem to be complimentary yet convey rudeness, insensitivity, or an attack on the person's identity. This subcategory is challenging due to the presentation being one of support for the oppressed person, but the energy behind the behavior is to attack, which makes it difficult to call out and address as well as to defend against;
  3. Microinvalidations: subtle exclusions and dismissals of oppressed people's experiences, identities, and individuality. This subcategory is particularly insidious as it undermines an oppressed person's agency by characterizing their decisions as unimportant, their opinions irrelevant, and their behavior irrational.
In my experience, oppressors hate being called out on, or even discussing microaggressions as a concept. This is a major challenge of antioppression work overall, and intervention work specifically, as perpetrators of IPV will defend their behavior by finding others responsible, by blaming situations, or by rationalizing their own destructive patterns of behavior.

It is important to consider that each of the previous subcategories end up working well for oppressors because they provide support for JUSTIFIED ATTACKS toward oppressed people, SELF-CENTERED REDIRECTION by insisting a statement was a compliment and expressing hurt due to being called out, or DEVELOPING INCREASED DISMISSAL of the oppressed person if they call out the behavior.

Some examples of these dynamics from perpetrators of IPV:
  • Comments an IPV perpetrator makes under his breath about a victim/survivor that are demeaning or blaming;
  • Making a victim/survivor flinch, then laughing about it;
  • Crude jokes at a victim/survivor's expense;
  • Undermining a victim/survivor's connections to family/friends by telling them derogatory details under a pretense of "care and concern";
  • Compliments about services the victim/survivor performs for the IPV perpetrator that have little or nothing to do with her personhood, identity, or personality;
  • Backhanded compliments that are barbed, such as "I know you're better than this," or "I know you love our children, but..."
  • "You're such a smart person, how could you do something so stupid?"
  • "That's not how it happened, and you know it!"
  • "I was only trying to help you and you got things all twisted up!"
  • "Why are you always so angry? If you weren't so angry all the time, maybe we wouldn't have all these troubles!"
  • "You can't make any decisions, then you complain when I make them for you - what do you want?"
  • Demands that the victim/survivor just tell him what to do, yet always finding reasons why those needs aren't valid, have problems, or are unfair.
Microaggressions are born out of privilege. When an individual is in an oppressor class, part of the privilege of that class is having little or no need to consider experiences of people oppressed by that layer of oppression. Often this is considered as oppressors being "blind," or that oppressed people are "invisible" (side note: there are ableist connotations to these terms which should be considered in their own right).

So what do we do about this? It's a real thing, victims/survivors of IPV feel these microaggressions constantly, yet it is a huge struggle to guide perpetrators to be able to identify that their behavior is oppressive on this level. Even if a perpetrator stops all direct violence and abuse, they may continue to be indirectly abusive, entitled, controlling, and harmful on several layers that can cause fear, pain, and ongoing damage to their family, since microaggressions are a foundational layer of harm toward an oppressed person.

This is, sadly where sublimation helps provide insight into why microaggressions are so pervasive within IPV and in other layers of oppressive behavior.

Sublimation, in this context, is a term that is infrequently used. There are many reasons for this, but I think it is predominantly due to the fact that it is strongly associated with the psychoanalytic approaches of Sigmund Freud. In general, his theory was that individuals have inappropriate urges and to keep from doing harmful things, they have to sublimate those urges by doing things that meet those needs in more appropriate ways.

Consider the base thrust of microaggressions - in essence they enforce entitlement by oppressor classes to feel blameless, to feel superior, to put oppressed people in their place.

I argue that all of these things are about maintaining the status quo. 

A reason why perpetrators of IPV continue to harm their families, and why their partners continue to stay within that relationship are that perpetrators have excellent radars of what they can and can't get away with. They are good at knowing where boundaries are, and how to continually push them in small increments. In fact, the best manipulators are able to lead others to think they are making their own decisions, when the manipulator has set the environment so that choice may be the only one available (or the best choice of many bad choices).

The status quo of intimate partner violence is to make everything benefit the person who is abusive, oppressive, and has a pattern of ongoing harm. Even if they don't see it, ultimately that is what all these microaggressions serve to do. Keep things going the way they "should" be going (i.e. the way that serves the interest of the person being abusive).

As sublimation is the process of shifting inappropriate behavior into something more appropriate - microaggressions continually serve oppressors by pushing oppressed people into a status quo where the oppressor has greater agency, control, superiority, and value. In essence, one of the driving forces of oppression is to dominate oppressed people through sublimation. The goal is to force the oppressed to sublimate their (justified) outrage/hurt/agency into passivity - force them to conform to situations that constantly benefit those with power, those with privilege. When oppressed people respond, any response they have can be stuffed into a negative stereotype which blames the oppressed for any pain or discomfort suffered by the oppressor.

We're all human beings, we all have layers of privilege in different places. Think about one of those layers of privilege you have in your life. When interacting with a person who lacks the privilege you have, has there ever been a time you have said or done something you felt was a bit "off"? Maybe it was because you noticed a subtle response by that person, maybe it was because you reflected on what you did and you realized it was problematic? However you experienced that momentary reflection, were you defensive? Did you dismiss the other person's response because in your mind you had innocent intent? Did you get angry at the oppressed person's response because it made you feel bad, or at the very least uncomfortable?

Considering current events, where resistance is growing toward oppressive powers, oppressive privileges, and oppressive stereotypes - how do microaggressions fit in? How do well-meaning people STILL work to sublimate the experiences of the oppressed? Here's how: "Can't you protest peacefully?" "Why do THEY have to be so destructive?" "Why can't they just follow the law?" "Can't you tell me what I can do as a white person?" "Hey, I have ideas, why don't you listen to me first?"

These are ongoing complications for intervention work. They are also ongoing complications for antioppression work of all kinds.

Working against microaggressions requires active efforts by oppressor classes. Some examples:
  1. Ask others in your oppressor class for ideas on how to be supportive of those oppressed by your privilege, or at the very least ask oppressed people what they would like to be supported in their efforts without taking them over;
  2. REFLECT on your privilege, identify it, understand it;
  3. Lend your support to oppressed people by encouraging, listening, being guided by, and following their needs, their experiences, and their ideas;
  4. BELIEVE experiences of oppressed people - do not question the legitimacy of their claims;
  5. Do not expect oppressed people to trust you, listen to you, agree with you, or even care about your opinions or feelings;
  6. Don't make it about you;
  7. Identify how you feel superior to others - this is a HUMAN trait, we all have it. If you don't think you are superior to anyone, you are lying to yourself. It is a dynamic of privilege to think you are equal to everyone despite equality only existing as a fleeting and isolated experience;
  8. Identify how you think others are less than you - again, this is HUMAN. Sometimes we have superiority on a certain level, but other times we might just think certain people are somehow less valid - that's the "less than" belief, and if you know where those exist in your life, you can limit and recognize when they occur;
  9. Identify where you think you DESERVE something from others - it can be small, it can be large, but like the previous two, human beings all have a sense of deserving certain things, whether it be responses, compliments, attention, resources, patterns of tradition, or any number of things that you might take for granted because you see that as just a given part of your life;
  10. Constantly learn about other cultural experiences, history behind the experiences of others, and your own history that guides your beliefs and values. Find differences and honor them in yourself and others. Make other's experiences VALID, even if (especially if) they are radically different or even opposing your own.
I believe there is a great need for oppressor classes to LEVERAGE the privilege they have. I hold within my life a multitude of oppressor levels, and with that a great amount of privilege. Privilege is not bad, it is not evil, it is just the history of power a group has had that you personally are a part of (and a reflection of the priorities and values of society at large). Most privilege isn't earned, it is something you begin life with, and despite privileges shifting over time those privileges interact with each other in infinite ways. You can be ignorant to your privilege and easily be microaggressive, or you can be aware of it and use it to intervene, call out, give feedback to, and engage with other oppressors with the same privilege you have. People who are oppressed, since they are easily dismissed, insulted, attacked, and at great risk by oppressors often struggle to have the same impact. Use that privilege to empower those that have less power, encourage those who are struggling, support and listen to others you interact with, and extend as much non-judgment and self-reflection as you can during the process.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Merging Efforts: The Intersections of Domestic Violence Intervention, Men, and Masculinities

*The following is a published journal article with citation: "Hall, C. M. (2019). Merging Efforts: The Intersections of Domestic Violence Intervention, Men, and Masculinities. Men and Masculinities, 22(1), 104–112."

Merging Efforts: The Intersections of Domestic Violence Intervention, Men, and Masculinities

First Published March 12, 2019
Feminist-focused activism and domestic violence services have grown in tandem, both developing analysis of systemic interventions for abusive men and in men’s role to address violence against women. Research on men and masculinities create a space for enhancing the view of toxic and healthy masculinities; however, analysis of masculinities without specific discussion on topics of intersectionality can avoid directly addressing men's violent behavior. There is a growing need to combine two focal points of work: honoring the foundations of anti-oppression work by encouraging non-abusive men to address their entitlement and disconnect from women, and motivating domestically abusive and violent men to choose respectful behavior that integrates healthy masculinities. Consideration for LGBTQ+ analysis of masculinities and opportunities for combined work are also explored.

Domestic violence intervention work, often focused on cis-male heterosexual offenders, faces challenges from community support and from offenders themselves when media, individuals, and researchers believe that such men are incapable of change. In doing work to end violence in relationships and to reduce toxic masculinities, change agents must believe in the possibility of working toward respect, health, and progress. The process of this change can be explored more concretely through a strong foundation and connection to women’s and gender studies, and domestic violence work needs to continue this connection rather than forgetting or abandoning it.

The history of domestic violence intervention work involves initial efforts at Emerge: Counseling and Education to Stop Domestic Violence in 1977, with several other initiatives starting soon after to address men’s violence against women (Adams 2003, p. 171).

The most identified and well-known domestic violence intervention program, the Domestic Abuse Intervention Program, also known as “the Duluth model” started in 1984 when Ellen Pence and Michael Paymar interviewed female victims of domestic violence and categorized experiences of harm within their “Power and Control Wheel (PCW).” While overall, their approach was designed to involve community involvement, coordination, and systemic review, classroom-style groups of domestic violence offenders focus on using the PCW to educate about their abusive and violent behavior in conjunction with a “control log” activity.

Since the early 2000s, national domestic violence intervention programs such as Emerge and Duluth have attempted to create a broader humanistic approach: Emerge through the use of motivational interviewing approaches and Duluth through a greater focus on their “respect and equality” wheel. Both programs have stressed the need to focus on the change they want to see in abusers, but dissemination of this approach is difficult within agencies and groups that lack coordination and communication with progress and advances outside of their own communities.

Part of the challenge faced by domestic violence intervention has to do with Duluth’s PCW, which identifies a category of control and harm labeled as “male privilege,” which includes examples such as “treating her like a servant,” “making all the big decisions,” “acting like the ‘master of the castle,’” and “being the one to define men’s and women’s roles” (Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs 2014a). While this wedge of the PCW is designed to be a starting point to discuss toxic masculinity and other forms of oppressive and entitled behavior, the challenge becomes that if individual interventionists do not have a nuanced understanding of men and masculinities, or a greater connection to community collaboration as practiced by the Duluth model itself, discussions and interventions can potentially become demotivational, alienating, and dismissive of respectful and healthy masculinities.

The Duluth model, in its work to be more focused on respect and equality, has engaged men by considering “shared responsibility,” but the challenge is that interventionists outside of the Duluth model itself often do not directly address oppressive beliefs and behavior behind toxic masculinities. Suggested items in the “shared responsibility” wedge include “mutually agreeing on a fair distribution of work” and “making family decisions together” (Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs 2014b). Individual group facilitators might be able to have an engaging and thought-provoking discussion about sexism, heterosexism, classism, and other oppressions that become domestically violent, but again the responsibility and skill are totally dependent on that individual interventionist.

The Emerge model engaged in a more “political activist” approach in the 1990s, addressing oppressive language and calling abusers out on attitudes and beliefs that were hurtful. While Emerge lacks a concrete display such as the PCW, there are lesson plans addressing “the effects of domestic violence on women” and “disrespectful/respectful communication.” However, like the Duluth model, Emerge does not have any lessons which directly engage abusers in discussions of healthy and respectful masculinity, although it does have opportunities within discussions on respectful communication, exploring effects of domestic violence on women and children, and a consideration of what counts as abuse and violence.

One of the early domestic violence intervention programs, the Oakland Men’s Project, cofounded by Paul Kivel and Allan Creighton made several efforts to engage men in discussions of toxic and healthy masculinities in the form of the “Act Like a Man Box” and avoided use of terms such as “batterer intervention” instead choosing to call their interventions “Men’s Work.” Their call to engage all men in the work to end violence against women and girls has been mirrored by other organizations and efforts, but that work is often separate from direct interventions.

Domestic violence intervention shares many overlaps with research on men and masculinities, in some ways being a practical extension of that work. However, there is little interaction between the two groups, and to build effective interventions and more directly change toxic masculinities in male domestic violence offenders, this connection needs to be stronger and more direct. Part of the challenge in these connections involves the varied training requirements throughout the nation for domestic violence intervention work. State standards and protocols for programs and individual facilitators vary greatly; Colorado has 150 pages of rules (including detailed evaluation components), while three states have no guidelines whatsoever.

There are several reasons why states have created standards, but many do so through court and legislative rulings requiring that individual abusers receive education, intervention, or counseling as a consequence for domestic violence criminal offenses. This creates a certain quality of care for programs, but since this quality is so different between sites, and monitoring of these standards is often minimal, holding individuals and programs to a standard of analysis is very difficult.

As domestic violence is not a mental health issue, it invites analysis that considers belief systems, values, and meaning and where those interplay with toxic, unhealthy, disrespectful, violent, and abusive behavior. As much of the work has focused on where gender role training fits into those beliefs, there is opportunity for natural overlaps between this research and progress. Getting past the issues behind standards of programs and requirements for practitioners could be an excellent opportunity for future work.

Gender studies as an area of research and study has long focused on feminism, as well as LGBTQ+ studies. As time has led to differentiation between the two focal areas, both have often supported each other and worked together within their realms of research. There has been tension and distrust from both groups as masculinities studies have gained ground, influence, and garnered financial support.
A major source of this distrust can be seen in part as coming from elements of men’s studies that is directly and/or indirectly connected to Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) groups. These groups work to portray men as victims of women, victims of society, and victims of other men. Masculinities studies has opportunities to denounce and work directly against such groups by providing research and discussion that keeps men’s potential for violence in the foreground.

Molly Dragiewicz, a sociologist and noted researcher of MRAs, notes when reviewing “Some Men,” a book about men’s experiences in doing antiviolence work, “Some men interviewed in this chapter raise concerns about the use of antiviolence publicity as window dressing to disguise an underlying lack of commitment to organizational policies to address men’s violence against women and the structures that engender it” (Dragiewicz 2016, p. 312).

But why is it that men are challenged by taking a more direct and visible role in calling out violence as a part of toxic masculinities? Sebastián Molano wrote about some of the challenges faced by men by stating, “Many of the men (including me) working on gender issues are self-taught. We have arrived in the gender landscape as a result of different circumstances but rarely due to an ingrained interest. This is explained, typically, as men enjoying a series of privileges that do not push them to question the status quo” (Molano, 2015).

This mirrors the challenge with domestic violence intervention work, where engaging men in respectful and healthy masculinities reflections or in confronting toxic masculinities does not necessarily have any sort of guidelines, standards, or rules of foundation, training, or engagement. Molano goes on to state, “men who work on gender issues do not tend to have a solid conceptual framework on gender issues, vis-à-vis women. This affects their credibility but most importantly, it is exposed when men who are working on these issues try to build bridges of collaboration with women’s organizations.”

Men and Masculinities studies need collaborations with feminist organizations and need the analysis of gender through the lens of privilege and power men hold over women. The expansion of that lens to consider the intersectionality of other oppressions needs to be continued.

Research on intersectional oppression and the perceptions of invisibility experienced by marginalized individuals can provide guidance in understanding how women’s experiences are easily overlooked by men. In exploring social invisibility, Pérez and Passini found that the more areas of privilege that individuals held, the easier it was to overlook or avoid people without privilege. Their research focused on multiple layers of identity, including gender and sexism, and their conclusion was that, “participants avoid visual interaction with people belonging to social minorities, presumably in order to prevent them from seeing themselves through the eyes with which the minority would see them” (Pérez & Passini 2012, p. 873).

Since 2017, when #MeToo gained international attention and sparked an increase in awareness and validation for women who are sexually and physically victimized by men, the invisibility has been waning, particularly as Sandra M. Gilbert notes:

Thousands and thousands of victims are cafeteria workers, file clerks, undergraduate and graduate students, ambitious young paralegals and overworked line cooks, electricians and rookie cops, junior high school students, and even, God help us, younger girls, sometimes even kindergartners. The labyrinth is the quotidian workplace—the winding corridors of the school or the office, where sexual aggression all too often accompanies power. (American Scholar 2018, p. 18)
With this rise of visibility, masculinities studies has an opportunity to join with domestic violence researchers in assessing appropriate responses to offenders, discussing the impacts of men’s violence on women and children, and overall working to provide avenues for repair.

Unfortunately, with the arrival of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, the landscape of masculinities in overall US culture may have serious shifts toward attitudes of entitlement and traditional gender roles, embracing foundations of toxic masculinity that are fundamental aspects of MRA belief systems. This creates a need to be intentional in having conversations with MRA individuals and groups to find methods of analyzing toxic masculinities and to possibly learn more about shifting beliefs toward healthy and respectful alternatives.

As a part of working toward respectful and healthy shifts, Men and Masculinities (and domestic violence) studies need to be cautious to remember how gender intersects with other categories of oppression, otherwise it can potentially lead to other forms of invisibility within the work. Chris Beasley notes ,“specifically naming violence as ‘the problem of men’, with regard to violence in communities which face racist marginalisation, is not straightforward. The strategy may be viewed as not so much as ensuring men are rendered responsible but as potentially eliding histories of racism/colonialism, thereby ensuring that dominant white cultures are not associated with responsibility” (Beasley 2015, p. 574).

A focus on toxic masculinities still needs to be balanced with understanding healthy and respectful masculinities, and while there have been several attempts to be more positive about men, careful balance is critical. Englar-Carlson names the challenge of working within that balance:
For many individuals, the idea of empowering men or identifying strengths may seem foreign or downright antithetical to someone who is working to reduce male power, privilege, and sexism. A central concern could be that advocating for a positive psychology of men, or positive masculinity, may gloss over the dark side of masculinity and may be associated with supporting patriarchal structures. (Englar-Carlson & Kiselica 2013, p. 401)
Englar-Carlson offers an example of maintaining both the sense of the toxic and the sense of the healthy:

Loyalty is commonly identified among men as a desirable trait because it can strengthen relationships, build trust, and show support of others. However, when used in a rigid manner, loyalty has the potential to reinforce traditional positions of male privilege (e.g., protecting other men at the expense of truth and justice) and mask independent thinking. It is the ability to be flexible in the enactment of male strengths and knowing when it is adaptive that is critical. (Englar-Carlson & Kiselica 2013, p. 402)
Being flexible is crucial in understanding the ways behavior, gender role training, and even violence itself can be potentially toxic and destructive, but also where it may be healthy or embody a context wherein the violence is protective to self or others. Research and writing needs to be careful to nuance approaches and make sure both sides are considered.

Intersectional overlaps need to be intentional by including the experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) community and other nonbinary sexualities. While masculinities papers and research often consider, or even focus on, gay masculinities, an aspect of sexualities that is missing both within domestic violence intervention and masculinities work is a more expansive focus on sexuality beyond heterosexual/homosexual/bisexual.

Research on asexuality is scarce, and testing instruments on sexuality often ignore or minimize asexual spectrums of sexual identity and sexual orientation (Hinderliter 2009); although there has been some work on developing scales to measure asexuality more recently, relying on open-ended questioning (Yule, Brotto, & Gorzalka 2015). Initially, sexuality research looked at a spectrum from heterosexual to homosexual and categorized any other sexuality as the “X category” (Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin 1948). In more recent times, considerations of sexual orientation as something distinctly separate from romantic orientation have been discussed and expanded within asexual communities.

Asexuality sites fiercely debate aspects of sexuality needing to include “romantic orientation” as being separate from “sexual orientation” and the need to differentiate between the two and acknowledge space and presence of those individuals who may not be interested in sexual activity but are romantically and socially attracted to others (Amy/amygdala 2013).

This concept, as a view of sexuality that is inclusive not just of the “big three” sexual orientations, but other concepts behind an individual’s identity needs to be more explored within masculinities as well as the domestic violence community.

One major reason for this need is the probability of male domestic violence offenders having a characteristic of being heterosexually oriented to a female partner, but not being interested in a romantic/social connection to women. This complicated combination of identities can explain some levels of toxic masculinities that have not been fully explored.

Another challenging aspect of masculinities work that focuses on gay and bisexual males is the often-overlooked aspect of sexism among these men. Authors at various LGBTQ+ organizations and media have noted some of these issues, one stating, “The topic of misogyny among gay men is a difficult one to broach. In my experience, men either simply refuse to believe the phenomenon exists, or the conversation is quickly derailed” (Faye 2015).

This is not to say that the study of masculinities within the LGBTQ+ community are demonstrating sexism in their work; however, inclusion of forms of oppression beyond heterosexism and homophobia is still necessary in masculinities research, even from within an LGBTQ+ focus.
Emerge has been working with domestic violence offenders within the LGBTQ+ community since the mid-1990s. Culturally specific LGBTQ groups for perpetrators has influenced their work with heterosexual male perpetrators, leading to greater understanding of oppression dynamics and guiding more nuanced interventions while offering a broader ability to inform and work with victims and survivors.

Much of the challenge in both domestic violence intervention and masculinities research is in seeing sexuality in binary terms, both within orientation, but also within making decisions to explore the “most common” sexual preferences and excluding (or being invisible to) how all human sexuality informs work with men.

Domestic violence continues to evolve within the LGBTQ+ community due to work by experts in the field of intervention as well as within agencies that provide advocacy and support for victims and survivors. Some of these nonbinary sexualities, as they are still being explored and understood, need to also be given support and advocacy for victimization, and perpetrators need to be held accountable for change. To avoid stifling progress, we need to start expanding our understanding and research, and we must become as aware of what we leave out as of what include in our work.

The reality of Men and Masculinities work and of domestic violence intervention is that we are at the infancy of their scholarship and not far removed from the foundations created by feminist analysis. Domestic violence intervention has a history of being corrupted by a lack of connections, distancing programs, and individuals from both national efforts and others doing the work. Siloing of resources, advances, materials, curriculum, and even intervention approaches has prevented progress and created rifts within the field. Negative and shame-based focus on perpetrators has created an imbalance in making individual and societal change toward respect and health in relationships.

We find ourselves in a new stage of development within this field. Where we can become inclusive of nonbinary sexuality and romantic connections. Where we can consider what it means to be balanced within concepts of toxic and healthy masculinities. Where we can confront male apologists and call out misogyny at the same time we can build awareness of the invisibilities we can easily fall prey to.
Tal Peretz lists five reasons to study Men and Masculinities that support this ongoing evolution:
  1. Making Men and Masculinities the focus of research helps to keep men’s hurtful behavior visible;
  2. Gender, as an intersectional matrix of domination, informs our knowledge of other forms of oppression;
  3. Disrupting the perception that men’s experiences are “natural” illuminates the possibility of change;
  4. Research suggests momentum toward egalitarian patterns comes from a focus on masculinities; and
  5. Investigating masculinities offers valuable information for feminist projects. (Peretz 2016)
How better to leverage privilege than by using the study of men to further work to end suffering and harms toward all oppressed populations? A fully synthesized approach could grow both fields in addition to leading us to a clarified foundation upon which to confront oppression.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Leveraging Privilege: A Primer for Domestic Violence Intervention and Other Anti-Oppression Work by Oppressor Classes

[I often add links to deepen the discussion of topics I write about, to illustrate points, and to reference my work - however in this article, reading some of these links is critical if you feel discomfort at a topic, get angry at the article, or don't understand a section. Please read the links to see if they answer your questions, anger, or confusion - particularly if you feel a desire to help, but at the same time feel that oppressed people treat you poorly, are angry at your contributions, or do not help you to better understand. This article was written with much discussion and feedback with friends, mentors, and peers - and thank you to you all for the challenges, the arguments, and the work that resulted from your feedback.]

Since his inauguration, there have been an unprecedented number of protests against US President Donald Trump. The rallies and marches have sought to put light on women's rights, and to a lesser extent, human rights as a whole which protestors believe are heavily threatened by President Trump and his policies. In a prior article, I discussed the nuances of how political leanings contribute to domestic violence responses - but politics impact much more than that.

Protesting Trump and his policies is one potential tactic of resistance, but there need to be mindful reflections on how to leverage privilege and be aware of the impact of personal power and what it means to be an oppressor class who is working to stand against oppression. This article is designed to challenge readers to question places in their lives where they are blind to the struggles of those with relatively less power. As such, this article will most likely make many people uncomfortable, perhaps even angry - and that is a feature, not a fault of this article. We don't move forward and improve by being comfortable, and if you have not felt discomfort in working to end domestic violence (or in any other anti-oppression or human rights work) - you might need to reconsider your strategies and self-reflection.

1) What is Oppression Theory?
Before discussing leveraging, we need to talk about and identify oppression as a concept. While we may talk about it in different ways, unless the concept is clear and workable, it is not going to be possible to make efforts to end it. There are several methods of understanding oppression theory (some examples include Iris Young or Paulo Freire), each offering complementary insight into the phenomenon of oppression. My initial exposure to Oppression Theory came from attending a domestic violence conference early in the start of my career thanks to a presentation by the Midvalley Women's Crisis Center (now Center for Hope and Safety).

The presenters discussed Oppression as built by three components: Power, Privilege, and Prejudice. All three had to exist in order for oppression to manifest. Power is defined as the ability to change yourself and others. Privilege is the history of that power and where it comes from. Prejudice is attitudes, behavior, and thoughts about someone not based on who they are as an individual, but based on characteristics of a group that person represents.

The presenters immediately explained why concepts such as "reverse-oppression" do not exist. For instance, with racism as a form of oppression, someone who is non-white may have prejudice against someone who is white... But without power within society, and without that privileged history of having power that prejudiced, non-white individual does not have the societal precedent and acceptance of that prejudice necessary to reach the level of oppression. Prejudice is problematic, sure, but separating prejudice as a concept separate from (but a part of) oppression helps to create clarity for ending racism (in this example) or other forms of oppression.

This discussion led to a woman in the audience (I was the only man present, in a room of approximately 30 women) claiming that this was ridiculous as a concept because an example about women not feeling safe alone at night walking down a street was not true for her. She felt perfectly comfortable in her neighborhood, therefore women who feel fear about potentially being harmed by men were just being overly sensitive. The presenters (two women) responded by saying that this woman, in making that statement, was diminishing and eliminating the experience of any woman who had been sexually or physically assaulted by a man, or had experienced fear due to the threat. While her individual experience may have been to not have fear, it is important when considering oppression, for each individual to resist putting their sense of safety onto someone who may not feel that same level of safety.

Then the presenters turned to me, which in the moment shocked me. They said, "and you, as a man, not taking a moment to speak out against her claim that women were overly sensitive if they felt afraid - your silence supported that statement. Having the power and privilege you inherit by being a man means your silence supports your own power and privilege." This was how I began to understand what it means to leverage privilege. To start, it means not being silent when witnessing oppressive statements or behavior that support your personal power and privilege, and at the same time knowing that in places where I have power, I have a layer of impunity to harms that oppressed groups feel regularly.

2) What is Intersectionality?
Oppression Theory is the concept of the interaction between Power, Privilege, and Prejudice - and it leads into an opportunity to understand Intersectionality. While the idea of interactions of varying kinds of oppression is not new - Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term in 1989 when working to communicate the difference between white and non-white women responding to sexism.

Crenshaw outlined the experience of Black women as being often excluded from feminist theory and anti-racist politics. A big part of her analysis focused on the idea of a "single axis framework" that was used to view feminism and racism. Over time, feminism has often focused on white women's experiences. Racism has often focused on men of color. The feminist concerns of Black women were often assumed to be addressed by the feminist concerns of "all women" - the difference and nuance of their experiences, as Black women, was excluded.  Black women's experience of racism, similarly, were often assumed to be included in the "racism" framework, and their experience as women was excluded. Crenshaw argued that for Black women, there is a multi-layered experience of oppression that needs to be considered beyond a singular axis of understanding.

When I attended the Women of Color Network conference in 2010, the focus was on looking at where experiences of victims and survivors of domestic violence fit in the realm of intersectionality. The conference attendees were divided into three groups - women of color, white women, and men (of the 500ish attendees, only 50 or so were men, leading to a smaller combined group). Throughout the conference, I heard white women complaining about being divided from women of color. Many were hurt by this division, and there was arguing and conflict throughout the conference driven by these same white women. This "white feminism" seeks to make experiences of sexism "single axis" - making the experiences of all women the same when considering men's oppressive behavior toward women, but the reality is that women of color experience different layers within that oppression.

In work to end domestic violence, and when intervening with domestic violence offenders, understanding intersectionality can prevent BIP/DVIP classes from narrowly considering abusive, violent, and controlling behavior as being a product solely of sexism (male privilege). Abusers have many levels where they believe in their superiority over their partners/victims/children, believe others are less than they are, and believe in being personally deserving of special consideration and care from those they harm. In work to empower victims/survivors of domestic violence, intersectionality offers opportunities to analyze environments of shelters, accommodations that are culturally sensitive, and an ongoing reflection on the significant variance in experiences of those harmed by domestic violence.

While sexism is, certainly, often a predominant factor in men's abuse of women, many male abusers can also be controlling and abusive due to class (more financial resources or control, more educational experience or value), race, ability (whether their partner/victim is disabled mentally or physically), faith/religion, or any other oppressive advantage they might hold over their partner. Viewing these intersections of oppressive behavior can provide insight into understanding an abuser's patterns of harm, but can also offer avenues to insight and empathy for oppression the abuser has personally experienced (this may involve trauma-informed responses to domestic violence offenders).

3) What does it mean to "leverage" privilege?
Privilege is the history of power in different categories. To begin the process of leveraging, first it is critical to understand where you individually have power in your life. To use myself as an example, I have many layers of power that I hold due to history and groups which have had patterns of controlling others with less power. To describe what it means to leverage privilege, I will use these examples to highlight some of the many places privilege brings invisibility to people who are oppressed.

I am white, and as a white person, I need to understand the history of colonialism that is behind this racial designation and identity, as well as the illusion being white holds. If I am doing work to end racism, I need to listen to those who have been the victims of racism and colonialism - and I need to be able to understand how white people are blind to the experience of non-whites, and often fail to listen or care about perspectives of non-whites who describe experiences of harm. To leverage my privilege in this category of being white, I need to speak to others who are white, work to communicate these experiences and work to shed light on experiences that are often made invisible. I need to pay careful attention to my silence when racism and colonialism are topics discussed around me, and work to stand against racism and not dismiss when non-white people shed light on their experiences.

I am heterosexual, cisgender, and I need to understand how homophobia and heterosexism fit as a weapon of sexism. I need to be able to notice and see how transgender people are discriminated against and harmed by misgendering, direct and indirect violence, and their experiences ignored even within LGBTQ+ movements. A part of listening to those with less power, and leveraging privilege, involves an ongoing dedication to learning about threats to communities and gaining cultural learning in cultures which I am not a part of. Heterosexual people simply "supporting" the LGBTQ+ community are not leveraging privilege, and in fact can often be practicing silence and maintaining blindness to those they have power over. This is a main reason the concept of being an "ally" can be problematic, and there has been a shift within some communities to work on utilizing the concept of being an "accomplice" in working alongside oppressed groups toward gaining footing and influence (if you struggle with thinking the term "accomplice" seems criminal, it might be important to click on the link).

There are several articles naming and describing male privilege, and it has its own wedge dedicated on the Duluth Model's Power and Control Wheel. Like much that fits into being an oppressor class, being male does not automatically mean harm and disrespect toward women and girls. Part of the challenge in leveraging privilege is understanding that power is often not a chosen thing and can be neutral, destructive and disrespectful, or constructive and healthy (or anywhere in-between). As a man, I have more ability to speak to men and hold them accountable than women might be able - because like other oppressor classes, men can easily make women's experiences or feedback invisible. I can leverage that privilege by working as an accomplice to my female co-facilitator in BIP/DVIP groups, listening to her experiences and amplifying her voice to men who have been abusive and may not hear her words or examples. I can be mindful of my behavior and attitude and where my privilege as a man might make it easy to dismiss her as a cofacilitator, and as a partner in the groups.

Men often want to be given recognition for their "good behavior," and invest in anti-sexism causes on occasion to gain congratulations and thanks for work that women have been struggling over forever. Women feel compelled to reward men for doing anti-sexism work, joining at rallies or marches, or giving support. Leveraging, in part, means being able to do work without asking for recognition or reward, and being able to directly speak to your motives for doing that work. If the answer in part has to do with "feeling good" it may be playing to that power, not helping to address it.

I have an advanced college degree, a master's of social work, and I am of middle socioeconomic class. Some layers of privilege do not shift, or only shift when changing location. Monetary resources can fluctuate over a lifetime, as educational access can shift when someone is able to learn more through a trade or school. I had to work to gain my MSW, but I also had to have financial ability to go back to gain this education. I have been impoverished and experienced financial devastation in my past, but I also grew up surrounded by family who assisted me a number of times to keep me from being completely destitute. People of middle or upper socioeconomic classes can easily develop power and privilege and be blind to the reality of skill sets (and social rules) being different by class. As my class position has shifted over the years, to leverage my privilege when I am in more advantageous places of power, I need to remember my experiences and my sense of safety without imposing my experience on others.

An ongoing challenge in anti-oppression work overall is when people in positions of power (oppressor classes) take their knowledge and experiences in life and believe others should have or do have the same sense of comfort and safety as they have. As I mentioned, I have experienced financial devastation in my life - but I had family to help at the worst times. If I took that sense of having a safety net and projected that experience onto someone without family supports, it would be oppressive of me (as I would be speaking from my power and privilege, and would be prejudging someone and expecting them to have the same resources I had when I was in financial hardship).

Power is about ability to change self or others, and gaining recognition for standing against oppression may change how you feel about yourself, and change how others feel about you. This is not to say that feeling satisfaction is wrong or bad, but speaks to motivation and begs the question: If you do not get recognized or rewarded, will you feel resentful toward an event or toward a group due to that lack of kudos? As a man, if a woman feels slighted for you getting recognition over her, is that man able to listen to anger without being upset or becoming oppressive as a response?

A huge challenge for leveraging privilege - if you are in a privileged class, the freedom, agency, health, safety, and well-being of other groups are not tied to you. As a man, I can always step away from the struggle to end violence against women and girls and it would not impact my privilege as a man. As a white person, I can do nothing to try and end racism and my life is not in any way changed if non-white people continue to be oppressed, subjugated, murdered, and scapegoated. I have to take my privilege personally, and I have to choose to leverage it outside of personal benefit because often the personal benefit is not there. If I make getting praised my benefit, then I struggle for my own desires, not for freedom, respect, and agency for others.

4) What are some ways to leverage privilege?
I hear the question "what actions can I take?" and that question can sometimes be a genuine request to become more involved in addressing oppression, and is sometimes a defeatist question where the person believes they cannot do anything that will make any difference. Both reasons for asking that question can have the same results, and the same sorts of answers. It's not enough to do independent action, and often it's hard to measure impacts by doing so. The best starting point, as mentioned above, is to actively educate and reflect on a personal level.

For most anti-oppression work, and for most efforts at leveraging privilege, there are many groups that work to end oppression - and a big part is simply joining groups and becoming willing to listen to their experience and wisdom. Go to an LGBTQ+ training. Attend an anti-racism event and ask about being more involved. Volunteer at a domestic violence program. Any of these actions is contributing to efforts. The key component, for those who represent an oppressor class the group is resisting, is humility

An oft used tool in leveraging the privilege and power of middle and upper socioeconomic class involves donating money to charity. The challenge in this leveraging is that many donations are given with little thought to where funding might be more effective. Donating $200 to a large nonprofit might not do much in their overall efforts, but that same amount given to a local agency that struggles to maintain services might be significantly more useful. Researching the needs in your local area and finding ways to give with impact, or to volunteer time or efforts to support the work can make a big difference, and while all the challenges and warnings above still apply (particularly the "savior complex" of wanting recognition and reward), it is a simple and direct way to leverage.

If you are white, then understand why an anti-racist group might be suspicious of a white person asking to join or assist. If you are heterosexual, it is possible that you might experience distance from the LGBTQ+ community when starting to join in efforts. It is possible that fears of being seen as a racist, or as a homophobe (or fears of others thinking you are not straight), lead to discomfort. Be okay with that discomfort, and notice where that is a process of leveraging privilege. Because leveraging privilege means resisting the power you have, and being okay with doing that at the same time you use it in respectful and healthy ways (being an accomplice).

Speaking up to those who are in the same group as you are is an important part of leveraging privilege. Calling out attitudes, statements, or beliefs which are oppressive is often difficult but ultimately critical to making the invisible, visible. If you are not effective in calling out your peers, or if you receive anger from groups you are trying to help - don't focus on others as the problem, rather think about how you can be more effective in listening or intervening.

When encountering resistance - it is not about others, it is about YOU. Think again about oppression theory and intersectionality. When people are oppressed, they resist. If you are being resisted, it might be due to a layer of oppression you might be relying on to try and get your points across. In doing so, you are likely enhancing the layer of oppression you represent, and making the oppression you are trying to work against worse.

To make a direct comparison to BIP/DVIP work - when doing intervention with domestic violence offenders, facilitators of groups have direct power of their class (their position as facilitator, power over participants regarding potential termination and/or reporting to referral source, often educational or monetary advantages over participants, and race or ability may play a factor as well). Participants sometimes resist material in the classes, and if that comes up, facilitators need to reflect and consider ways the material presented may not have worked to intervene.

Sometimes resistance comes from an oppressor being angry at getting called out for abusive, disrespectful, and hurtful behavior. Sometimes resistance comes from a participant feeling oppressed by the facilitators or the system. Sometimes it might be that the material is not effective because of how the facilitators present it. There are many factors that may be involved, but ultimately, it is up to the facilitators to consider their own complex interplay of privilege, position, and intersectionality as a part of the class and where that interplay fits.

To summarize these leveraging tactics:
  • Work to understand the history behind your privilege, and the impact of the power behind that privilege.
  • Work to practice cultural humility and learning; expand your experiences in understanding groups who are oppressed.
  • Work to notice how oppressed people's voices are ignored or silenced by people with power and privilege (including ways you might personally ignore or silence others).
  • Work to understand suspicion or wariness oppressed groups or individuals might be toward places of your personal privilege and power, and learn to both be okay with that suspicion and not be defensive as a response to it.
  • Know your motives behind doing anti-oppression work and question yourself - are you motivated primarily (or in a large part) to receive recognition or congratulations for your efforts?
  • Engage in community trainings, volunteer with groups, donate effectively, and research current services in your community before starting your own work.
  • Know who is in your own groups of power and privilege and use those connections to educate, intervene, and discuss with people who might ignore those who are oppressed.
  • Work to understand resistance both in terms of feedback about your efforts, and as a way to understand more how others experience you.
  • Make commitments to be active in ending oppression, and to constantly seek education and learning formally and informally.

Leveraging privilege is a process, and is constantly evolving if you are open to personal growth and the struggle with others to seek respect, health, equality, and justice for all. To conclude, here are some examples of people leveraging their privilege:

  • Timothy Dempsey, a high school history teacher who has co-facilitated BIP/DVIP groups in addition to teaching history, he writes about how teachers can leverage their privilege and power within their classrooms. 
  • Sandra Kim and B. Cole discuss leveraging privilege from an organizational standpoint, and the need for personal reflection as a part of leveraging.
  • Cynthia Silva Parker analyzes her layers of privilege and her responsibilities in leveraging the privileges she has in her life.
  • Anthony J. Williams talks about looking at his privileges by stating "although my Blackness and my queerness affect my treatment in a structurally racist, classist, heterosexist, and ableist society, I’m still a man in a patriarchal society" - and then considers how he needs to use that privilege to work for rights of people who are transgender.
  • Kevin Powell works to use his personal reflections, and leverage his platform and voice as a public speaker and educator to both do anti-oppression work and lead discussions on respect and health.
  • Food Not Bombs is an organization that I have seen consistently work on several levels of intersectionality as they fight for food as a right, and leverage their privilege as they do so - if nothing else in here moves you to action, consider volunteering and learning more from them.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Reflecting Forward at BISC-MI 2016 Conference (Day Two)

(Most links within this article connect to the Facebook Domestic Violence Intervention and Education group, where I detailed most of the conference. I apologize in advance for the length of this article, the details and information are extensive so I tried to do them justice in brief, which for the content of a blog entry are not brief at all. I hope those who attended can use this to reflect on the presentations you witnessed, and maybe expand your learning beyond the conference itself. Those who did not attend - I hope you can see the content of a BISCMI conference and join us next time!)

Day Two of the BISC-MI conference started with direct grounding in the work, and board member and homemade cookie maker extraordinaire, Jeffrie Cape stated, "we need to remember, the purpose of domestic violence intervention work is to create safety, respect, and health for victims/survivors of domestic violence." This needs to be stressed regularly, and can be an important measure of a program in how much they have a foundation in this idea of victim/survivor safety.

Lori (last name omitted for safety and privacy reasons - important to be aware of with victims/survivors) shared her experience of living with her abuser, and the various ways he worked to isolate her - and many of the reasons she did not identify his behavior as domestic violence. The time she went through pain and fear - and the reason why she justified her suffering as being unimportant, are messages we need to be intimately aware of. Not just for the partners and ex-partners of the abusers we work with, but for understanding the justifications of abusers themselves.

In my direct work with abusers, I am thankful for the ongoing interactions I have with victims and survivors through the Facebook DVIE group. Listening to stories, providing referrals, or often just having the ability to listen provides me with a depth of understanding that enhances the interventions I work on with perpetrators. I would like to challenge all of you reading who do BIP/DVIP work to consider your own exposure to these stories, and how you make them real in your practice.

A big part of "reflecting forward" is in reviewing systems that have been in place that overall we need to be more informed about. Scott Miller works extensive to train people on how to use the "Duluth Model," and in doing so is constantly needing to separate out the BIP/DVIP group process part of the model, and bring forward that overall their approach is about engaging with and changing community perceptions and messaging about domestic violence. This "Community Coordinated Response" is key to any interventions using the Duluth Model, yet very few groups and individuals using their model fully implement this critical component.

Praxis International, an agency that works closely with Domestic Abuse Intervention Program (DAIP, the "Duluth Model") has worked for some time to counter claims against its work, and to try and raise understanding about both their groups, their community work, and the plethora of "Duluth-like" BIP/DVIP groups who use Power and Control wheels, but do not accurately follow their model. Scott discussed in his presentation that BIP/DVIP should be designed to hold abusers accountable - not just in groups, but within community, by community members including law enforcement, but also connected systems that might be influential in guiding an abuser toward respect and health (examples may be businesses, schools, places of worship, etc).

Scott also brought forward that research on BIP/DVIP sometimes states that the Duluth Model does not work, and base that conclusion on studying BIP/DVIP groups who say they use Duluth, but may only do the group sessions for abusers, and these research studies almost never go directly to the source to research DAIP.

Oliver Williams spoke to looking to engaging communities as an essential part of effectively addressing domestic violence. Unfortunately, I stepped out of the conference to prepare a bit more for the AQUILA "Truth Squad" portion and missed his discussion. However, I have seen Oliver present on similar topics in the past, and can say that he spends time addressing the need to understand communities if you want to work with them. This is a lesson that we need to consider on broader levels in community coordinated responses, and how we can move away from imposing changes and instead work with and listen to communities to understand their challenges, as well as their successes and the work they may have been doing to work toward respectful and healthy relationships. If anyone who attended the conference who has notes from Oliver's presentation, and would be willing to share them, please do so in the comments of this post.

Lisa Nitsch furthered the conversation about working in community, particularly her experience of being a white woman working in a predominantly Black community. She started with a historical perspective of Baltimore and addressed ways the city has been oppressive to People of Color overall, and methods used to divide communities - and specifically how those tactics and historical political decisions have led to Baltimore being the most segregated city in the United States. Lisa made a point to highlight the work of Kimberle Crenshaw to address the intersectionality of oppressions faced by Black women, and where "white feminism" has created invisibility for Women of Color in the differences they experience with domestic and sexual violence within our society. This point is important in exploring her work within Baltimore, as her status as a white woman needed to be considered in how she worked within her community.

Lisa used several examples of the need to consider intersectionality of oppressions in work to end domestic violence, and to do community coordination. Some important points for BIP/DVIP work include considerations of your facilitators matching the demographic breakdown of the community, having a curriculum that speaks to those differences if they exist, the need to cross-train staff on self-care issues that may overlap with hurtful, controlling, abusive, and violent behavior (such as looking at employment issues, connections that abusers have within community, etc), how feedback from group members is incorporated into the program, and making sure that administrators with power and privilege are not making decisions about programming and community engagement without the involvement of the community itself.

Next Ricardo Carrillo brought forward perspectives from his work with the Mexican Latino community, and described some of the unique challenges to addressing domestic violence. He described how many men he has worked with have grown up as children in environments which equated love with pain, a sense of moral correction to match values that stressed male dominance, and a concept of a spirit/soul wound that can create imbalance, internalized oppression, and ongoing harm in relationships. He brought forward how such childhood experiences may lead to difficulties for men in creating healthy attachments, and leading to dismissing behavior in relationships (as a part of being anxious from modeling behavior witnessed in childhood) or a preoccupied, ambivalent attachment in adult relationships (partially based on conflicting emotions from experiences in childhood).

As a result of these experiences, and in a need to address the hurtful connections men he has worked with have developed in their lives and relationships, Ricardo discussed the need to discuss and develop healthy connections in these men's lives. To discuss childhood experiences as a part of exploring internal coping strategies that can build to abusive and violent behavior in relationships. He also spoke to making cultural connections to health and respect that can be found throughout Mexican and Latino culture, and the use of parables, stories, legends, and history to create repairs and internal reflection.

Hoda Amine presented on the Muslim community responses to domestic violence, and referenced the Muslim Code of Behavior that puts forward community rules that overlap with respectful and healthy behavior discussions that often are a focus of BIP/DVIP groups overall. Some examples of this code include truthfulness, sincerity, unselfishness, humility, patience, forgiveness, purity and cleanliness, honesty, goodness and kindness to others, courage, consideration and respect for others, moderation, and cheerfulness. These values and behavior guidelines can be critical for all discussions during group sessions, but can also be a way to discuss specific movement toward ending domestic violence with Muslim men.

TA Bashir followed up by reviewing history of the Islamic faith, and the challenges that came from moving a people toward new patterns of worship and community value. Many patterns of behavior by men toward women stayed with older traditions that were oppressive and destructive, and these traditions are still coming out today hundreds of years after the formation of the religion. TA talked about creating connections to a womanist tradition, and guiding men to be more aware of the history behind their faith, and the challenges in working toward health and respect.

In looking at how faith can inform and transform change in men who are abusive, Chris Moles engaged the audience in methods of analyzing belief systems without judgment. He states that, "we do what we do because we want what we want," then further described, "we want what we want because we think what we think." This distillation of motive and reason behind abusive and controlling behavior allows for critical viewing of selfishness and a lack of value for family and self. He describes himself as a complementarian, but in a fashion which sees the natural balance and equality of men and women, and how relationships involve working together. Christianity and church services, he explained, have often become gatherings of performance art and socializing with little room for growth of respectful and healthy belief systems - and engaging abusers in their beliefs behind their faith, and their values behind their relationships can be excellent angles for interventions.

Staff from Emerge (Susan Cayouette, Ted German, and Erika Robinson) finished the day by detailing their work with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trangender, and Queer domestic violence offenders, as well as their work with heterosexual female perpetrators and anger management clients. This work has helped in better informing their work with heterosexual male domestic violence offenders as they have struggled to consider differences in power dynamics, levels and overlaps of entitlement, and has grown knowledge of the need to analyze reactive violence within male heterosexual abusers.

In the next post, I will be finishing up my summarization of the BISC-MI conference by detailing the third day. Again, feel free to visit the DVIE group on Facebook or visit the DVIntervention Twitter feed for links and more information. For links to conference materials, including presentations, click here.