Men’s Behaviour Change work – a report from the No To Violence conference

Last week I attended an Australasian conference on Men’s Behaviour Change. It was held in Melbourne by No to Violence, the peak body for Men’s Behaviour Change work in Victoria, Australia. There were people from all over Australia, a large delegation from New Zealand, and a few from other places (Ireland, Scotland and South America). The experience gave me insight into the state of play in Men’s Behaviour Change work in this area of the world.

It was the first time I had ever been to a domestic violence event or training where there were equal numbers of men and women. I guess this indicates that male practitioners are taking a largish role in Men’s Behaviour Change work. One could be quite cynical about this and say “Where were the men all these years when women (feminist women) were working to bring change? Why are the men showing up now, when they did not pull many oars before? How much male ego is involved here?” But it is also possible to say, “At last men are taking this issue seriously, and at least in the ranks of professionals there is equal involvement of both sexes, and it’s good that men are involved in Men’s Behaviour Change work, as domestic violence is everyone’s business. And maybe male abusers need male role models to show them how to be honorable men, rather than bullying men.”

Here are some of the things I learned:

New Zealand is leading the way. New Zealand is about two decades ahead of Australia in the way it is responding to domestic violence and behaviour change work with abusers. The New Zealand delegation were acknowledged as leaders in the field by the people attending the conference. There seem to be several reasons for the advanced state of play in N.Z., including the fact that N.Z. is a truly multi-cultural society where the Māori [Internet Archive link]1 (indigenous) culture has been truly embraced by the whites, and they are all creatively collaborating for social change; they have a national government but no state governments that can bicker with the national government over who controls and pays for what; and they have a small population – less than the population of the city of Melbourne – so service providers can network and cooperate more closely and there is more continuity of care.

When I mentioned to a couple of Kiwis (New Zealanders) that I felt a bit disgruntled that this was the first and only domestic violence event I’d been to that had equal numbers of men and women, the Kiwi man said, “That’s the kind of comment we used to hear 20 years ago in New Zealand.”

Comparisons with the UK and the US. I asked a man from Scotland what the domestic violence sector was like in the UK and how it compared to Australia. He said the criminal justice legislation for domestic violence was tougher in the UK than in Australia, and that difference has led to different practices and emphases in the way professionals are doing behaviour change work. He also said he thought that the USA was not as advanced as either the UK or Australia (let alone New Zealand) in men’s behaviour change work. Here in Australia, at least the professionals are sharing and developing more effective ways of doing men’s behaviour change programs; but at conferences he’d attended in the US there appeared to be a stand-off between people who use the Duluth (cognitive behavioural psycho-education) Model, and people who use psychotherapeutic approaches. He said the two camps would go to the same conferences but sit at different tables from each other and not eat with each other.

Christian involvement was minimal. Apart from myself, I think there was only one other person at the conference who openly identified as Christian, and he made it clear he was a very liberal Christian. Of course, there may have been individuals there who work for secular organisations who are privately Christians but are not overtly discussing their faith in the workplace. I told the two main organisers of the conference that I was a conservative Christian and asked if there were any other attendees who were expressly Christian in their work, and they were not aware of any.

Avoidance of moral language. I heard a speaker who was expressly presenting a “non-moral” approach, which I thought was rather amusing because he merely replaced moral language with ethical language. (“What’s the difference?” I hear you asking.) Basically he argued that any moral stance is ineffective in men’s behaviour change because shaming perpetrators only makes them strengthen their defences and resist change, but an ethical stance is more effective because when a practitioner / therapist takes an ethical stance, this tends to evoke more life-enhancing ethical choices in men who have used abuse. It sounded to me like scrupulously bending over backwards to avoid using words like “Right” and “Wrong”, “Good” and “Bad”, and employing elaborate philosophical circumlocution to arrive at euphemisms like “life-enhancing” and “life-destroying” instead. Hmm. But I will give credit where it is due, and for all his fancy philosophical footwork, this man’s approach did sound like it could certainly be effective with some abusers.

Things that seem to be working

Partner contact is vital; and it always prioritizes the safety of women and children. When men’s behaviour change programs are run under the NTV guidelines, one professional on the Program Team is responsible for making contact with each male participant’s victim, whether or not she is living with the perpetrator or has any intention of continuing or renewing her relationship with him. Victims are free to discuss their concerns with the partner-contact professional, or to decline involvement if they wish. In some locations they can also take part in a victims’ support group that the partner-contact person facilitates. Any information that the woman tells the partner-contact professional is not passed back to the male participants in the behaviour change group. But if, for example, Jane tells the partner-contact person “Bob called me a whore when he picked up the kids last Tuesday”, this information is passed to the professionals who facilitate the men’s group, and they can work the topic of sexually derogatory language into the men’s group curriculum, without giving away that Bob had used that language to Jane last Tuesday.

A blend of therapy and psycho-education. Most practitioners here are seeing their work with men as a combination of therapy and psycho-education.

Practitioners spoke about the fine line between responsible therapy and therapeutic abuse. In the past, most therapeutic practice with abusive men has been based on confrontation, which can involve a kind of benevolent bullying that is “justified” in the service of a noble cause – telling the man what to be, to prevent him from using abuse in the future. However, telling men “what to be” does not produce much real change. And when we shame men, we invite them to tell us less, rather than more.

I heard one practitioner talking about a kind of narrative therapy approach that has been adapted for men who have used violence and abuse against their families. The practitioner would know the details of specific acts of abuse that the man had done to his family, this knowledge having come partly via the police and justice system who dealt with the man, partly from what the victim may have had imparted to the partner-contact person, and partly from what the perpetrator himself admits when asked to describe exactly what he did to his partner.  ….Believe it or not, most perpetrators, when asked directly in these groups, will give pretty accurate accounts of what they did to their partner in the last or most serious incidents of abuse. I guess that when the men know that the professionals know what the allegations were in court, they can see that outright denial won’t get them very far, and the other men in the group won’t buy it either.

The practitioner will hold in mind the knowledge of what the abuser has done to his family, but will not pummel the man with guilt and shame. Rather, the practitioner (he or she) will express curiosity about the man’s life, history and values. This leads to a conversation with the abusive man that often uncovers wounds and trauma from the man’s childhood – for example, the man’s own father may have been an abuser. It is a fine line to walk here, but a skilled practitioner can lead the man to not just a cognitive recognition of his childhood trauma, but a deep emotional body-feeling-remembrance of it, and then the practitioner can get the man to see “The pain and terror and what I felt then, as a child, is what I’ve been making my family feel recently!” That is the kernel of empathy. It leads the man to feel shame but not hopelessly so. The practitioner invites the man to sit with this shame he feels, but at the same time invites him to ethically strive to resist violence and the effects of violence. Should the man take up the invitation, he can consider and mentally rehearse better ethical choices he might make in the future, ones that will lead to a life of honourable integrity where he does not abuse others, a kind of slow but steady re-authoring of identity that is the essence of true change.

The point was made that many — if not most — abusers have been subjected to pretty lousy treatment themselves in the course of their lives, from family-of-origin neglect and abuse, to bullying, incarceration, lack of choices, lack of job satisfaction, added to which is the overall cultural conditioning of boys and men that our society inculcates: “always be tough”, “never let yourself be vulnerable”, “never talk about your feelings”, “harden up”, “don’t cry”, “take it like a man”….

Given the limited choices and poor social and emotional skills that many of these men have had, it is asking almost the impossible of them if we put them through the court system for domestic violence, send them to a Behaviour Change Program, and then expect them to suddenly open up and learn new softer ways of thinking and feeling. The resistance of men in such groups is notorious. Many of them are there under sufferance, having either been ordered there by the court, or having enrolled themselves in the group in a last ditch attempt at getting their relationship back. This is not to criticise the court system for steering men to into such groups, nor is it to criticise  the actions of partners who declare the relationship is o.v.e.r. unless the man stops being abusive. The boundaries and consequences that are imposed by the justice system – and by victims of abuse – are excellent ways of responding to abuse. These boundaries and consequences are often necessary pre-conditions for an abusive man to face up to his problem.

But once an abusive man is in such a group, the professionals who run the group are not going to  have much success using a directive and shaming approach. If they are to have any success at all, they will only have it using an invitational rather than a directive approach. Asking the men “What would a man of honour do?” is more likely to produce change than simply telling men how to be. At the same time, depending on the laws and policies in that jurisdiction, the men participating in the program may be subjected to judicial consequences if they fail to attend the program regularly, or if they break conditions of their parole or bail, or breach any court order that has been imposed on them. This is all well and good. The combination of “carrot and stick” has a lot going for it.

I think that it must take a lot of skill for practitioners to use this invitational, narrative therapy approach while at the same time never forgetting for a moment that these men have used deplorable violence and abuse against their partners. The practitioner must not simply feel sorry for the man, or allow the man’s past to be an excuse for his present  a person who uses violence is always solely responsible for that violence – but the practitioner must not demand or dictate to the man what he should do, because that would be modelling the very style of relationship that the practitioner is inviting the abusive man to relinquish. But all this must be carried on in context which privileges the stories of the victims and survivors.

It is a very fine line. The practitioner must ask himself “How do I position myself in relation to that abusive behaviour, and in relation to the man who used that behaviour?” It seems that highly skilled professionals are able to walk this fine line, but I cannot imagine your average pastor being able to walk it. Even most generalist counselors and therapists do not possess these specialised skills, so how could we expect pastors to have them? And Christian counselors who think that all they need is a Scriptorium of Bible verse antidotes for every problem under the sun – what hope do they have of getting a handle on this stuff when they only see the abuser, and don’t get the background picture from the justice system and the abuser’s victim?

It seems that this work is best done in the context of a properly structured Men’s Behaviour Change Program where there is a men’s group, with individual therapy as a possible adjunct to the group (to deal with very confidential stuff like a man’s memories of sexual abuse in childhood, or details about the man’s sexual abuse of his wife), and a partner-contact person, and the court and police input that provides background information about the men who are participating in the group.

Of course, the invitational approach I’ve described does not guarantee that every abusive man will change. The conference talked a lot about what they called “second order change” in men: the change that is not just talking the talk, but walking the walk. This is the Holy Grail of Men’s Behaviour Change work, and it is only sometimes achieved.

Nevertheless, even if an abusive man doesn’t significantly change as a result of his participation in a Men’s Behaviour Change Program, the women partners usually report that the program helped them because they felt believed and supported by the partner-contact worker.

I think it’s worth quoting something Jeff S said in another post on this blog:

My therapist used to work with hard-core domestic violence perpetrators. I asked them how many had ever repented. He said he could probably count the number on one hand, and he wasn’t even sure those ended up long term healthy. He said he would never, ever ask a woman to try and reconcile.

I’ll conclude with this Scripture passage:

For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Break up your fallow ground,
and sow not among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the LORD;
remove the foreskin of your hearts,
O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;
lest my wrath go forth like fire,
and burn with none to quench it,
because of the evil of your deeds.” (Jeremiah 4:3-4  ESV)

“For my people are foolish;
they know me not;
they are stupid children;
they have no understanding.
They are ‘wise’ — in doing evil!
But how to do good they know not.” (Jeremiah 4:22  ESV)

1[April 7, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on the Māori people. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

[April 7, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to April 7, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to April 7, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to April 7, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (April 7, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

19 thoughts on “Men’s Behaviour Change work – a report from the No To Violence conference”

  1. Thank you for the update. I would agree that the US is far behind in this matter and sadly I see the church as the problem. We have a lot of conservative “Christians” in this country who don’t feel like this is a big issue and would rather not have government involvement in people’s lives so they vote against programs like men’s behavior and opt for community groups and churches to do the work instead. There are a few states that are making great progress on there own (California and Washington being two that I know of personally) who have strong laws to protect victims. But these two states are considered two of our most “liberal” states so I think that is way they have made more progress then others.

    1. Very interesting, Bethany. I hadn’t thought of that — how conservative Christianity and the belief that people’s lives should be free of government control, contribute to the US’s relative backwardness in Men’s Behavior Change Programs. It makes a lot of sense. I will be interested to see what other commenters think about this. I’ve sent this post round to my whole email list, in the hope that it gets quite a few comments from counselors and therapists who are working in the domestic abuse field.

  2. Hi, Barbara,

    It is my first time commenting on ACFJ. I think this is a fantastic blog!

    I’m writing from New Zealand, and am really pleased to hear that “NZ is leading the way” in terms of family violence (especially Men’s Behaviour Change). But, what I find disappointing is that it seems to me to be the secular agencies and organisations that are leading the way, not the church, especially conservative churches in NZ. I heard from a Christian social worker in the town I live in, who was working for a secular organisation in co-ordinating family violence prevention programmes, that her attempts to engage churches in the area (all mostly conservative) in some form of participation in these programmes was met with resistance and unwillingness to participate. This included a programme for friends and family members on the warning signs of domestic violence, and what resources / support is available for friends and family who have concerns, but don’t know what to do.

    My sense is that if NZ is 20 years ahead of Oz in dealing with family violence, the church in NZ may still be 20 years behind.

    (I don’t work in the social service area, I’m just an interested layperson.)


    1. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      Thanks, Scott; and so nice to have a new voice here, and a Kiwi one at that! Welcome to our blog.
      What your social worker friend said about the lack of interest from churches is parallel to the lack of interest from churches in Australia. There have been a few happy exceptions, but by and large the church, especially the conservative evangelical church, is wanting to keep the blinkers (blinders) on about domestic abuse. It’s sad. It’s very frustrating. At times it amounts to criminal complicity with offenders. But if it’s any consolation, New Zealand churches may be no worse in this respect than Australian churches. (I’ll let my US colleagues and fellow survivors talk about the US scene.) Until there is a much larger outcry from victims / survivors and their bystander-supporters who are outraged about the injustice and ignorance that victims are facing in churches, I doubt this will change much. But we keep plugging on…. And the recently published book “A Cry For Justice” should help matters too (see the sidebar to the right).

      The secular programme for friends and family members on “the warning signs of domestic violence, and what resources / support is available for friends and family who have concerns, but don’t know what to do” sounds FANTASTIC. Face-to-face programs like that for family and friends are almost never being offered in Australia. There are brochures, pamphlets, booklets and website information for family and friends — but face-to-face programs? I can scarcely think of one (but then I don’t know everything that’s being offered). To me, that New Zealand program for friends and family is further confirmation of the fact that your country is leading this field.

      1. The US military has a mandatory yearly training for “the warning signs of domestic violence, and what resources / support is available to service members and there families”. It literally saved my life since we had our annual training 1 week before my husband’s final attack! I knew exactly where to go and what to expect. If this were available to civilians it would save many more lives. There are so many resources out there but sadly most people don’t know that they exist.

      2. Wow, the US military system is rolled gold! And they refresh their supervisors every year, that’s really impressive. As a nurse, I was used to having to refresh my CPR training and safe-lift training on a yearly basis. Domestic abuse training should be mandatory yearly requirement for all workplace managers and health professionals. Let’s keep calling for it till it happens, I say.

      3. Oh and since all of my supervisors also get the annual training there was not judgment, blame, or doubt of the victim. Only support and understanding. They all bent over backwards to protect me and my kids. They even had a military cop on call for me just in case my husband tried to pull something in the following weeks. I was given a victim advocate within 24 hours of my husband’s arrest who walked me through getting a restraining order and even went to court with me. After I was stable she called once every two weeks to check in on me and was available for me to call 24 hours a day. I think the US military is spot on and I wish this was how it was everywhere!

      4. Thanks for the welcome!

        I share your frustration about the blinkers of the church on this subject. In the evangelical circles I’m part of, on the few occasions when I’ve discussed this issue I’ve felt this invisible wall go up. Nobodies “against” domestic violence prevention, but they not “for” it either (if that makes sense?).

        The programmes that Bethany has mentioned are exactly the kind of programmes that should be part of (ongoing) clergy / pastor & pastoral care training.

        “A Cry For Justice” is definitely on my “To Buy” list.

  3. How wonderful that you were able to attend the conference, Barbara. The New Zealanders you mentioned are doing great work here. Quite a few of them are from the “National Network of Stopping Violence”, which runs men’s (and women’s) programmes in many towns. These people are also doing a good job of raising awareness about family violence. But it infuriates me that some of their very good work is being strongly and publicly opposed by a conservative Christian lobby group called “Family First”.

    I’m not surprised that churches in Scott M’s town were uninterested in family violence programmes. Many Christians don’t think it’s anything to do with them, and there’s a great deal of victim blaming. Churches in New Zealand have a very long way to go on this unfortunately. I do think things can change, and the strength of local secular expertise makes that easier. Books by informed conservative Christians help too.

    1. That “Family First” lobby group in N.Z. may be related to a group of the same name that operates in Australia as a political party (?). I have a survivor friend who thinks we should be lobbying conservative Christian lobby groups to get them to see the truth about family violence and divorce. In Australia, these groups regularly talk about how damaging divorce is for children, and how important it is to keep families intact.

      I wish conservative Christian lobby groups in Australia would start talking about how important it is for abusive spouses to stop being abusive. And how divorce is okay and often highly desirable for victims of domestic abuse including children. Then they would be doing real good for families, rather than (inadvertently?) allying with the abusers.

  4. Wow! I have to admit I’m jealous! NZ and the US military sound glorious to me!

    When my husband was arrested for DV in 2007 in the state of Oregon the court secretary made an off comment to me about understanding the feeling of wanting to punch an 18 year old in the face. (My husband had attacked me and when our 18 year old tried to help me, my husband punched him in the face.) I was required to attend a one hour class at the local “Department of Human Services” office before my husband was sentenced. It was LAME! It basically was a time of share-and-tell among the victims, interrupted by an occasional cell phone call to the leader from her teenage son. I desperately needed some bold education. I was so deeply immersed in abuse and had been for so long that I didn’t know what was normal. There was nothing of the kind in that little class. She didn’t even present the abuse wheel. She seemed more interested in sharing her own story of abuse before she got into “advocacy” work”. There was no follow up contact.

    The local “Women’s Crisis Support Team” has an advocate that works at the DHS office, and she is amazing. My understanding is that her salary is paid for through state funds via DHS though she is a WCST employee — all a little confusing to me. Anyway, my point is that when Oregon went belly up financially last year she was the FIRST person they laid off and the last to be re-hired! That shows the importance they place on her work. I should note that our county has an extremely high rate of DV. The need for her work is great. When I first initiated contact with WCST it took almost two months for her to get back to me and help me get into a support group.

    Interestingly, my attorney, the judge, and my husband’s DV specializing attorney are all Christians (well, claim to be anyway), and they all seem “bent” against me and my children and sympathetic to our abuser. My children’s Sunday School teacher last Sunday tried to talk to me, as though she knows more than me, about my husband not understanding what he’s doing to the kids. A local pastor’s wife gave the unsolicited advice on Facebook to a friend of mine that she needs to reconcile with her abuser and then his abuse of their daughter would stop! My friend is remarried to a genuine Christian man! But, this pastor’s wife was recommending she leave him and be restored to her original husband.

    I feel like I’m living in the middle ages! I have spent the entire process feeling very angry toward those involved in the legal system and the church leadership. I’ve thought they were aiding and abetting violence because they themselves are so inherently evil. In the past week or so I’ve seen the genuine looks on their faces though and, unless I’m really being duped, I think they are absolutely ignorant and prideful. Ignorant of the truth and prideful in that they think they already know it all and don’t need any liberal or any woman or any layperson instructing them on the issues.

    1. Anewfreelife, I share your outrage….
      And I very much relate to your last paragraph: the pondering over “where are these church people coming from?”

      I believe you are right that many church people are:

      ignorant of the truth and prideful in that they think they already know it all and don’t need any liberal or any woman or any layperson instructing them on the issues.

      And I also believe that some church people (let’s hope it’s a minority) are aiding and abetting violence because they are abusers themselves. Birds of a feather. If ever this was a spiritual battle, this is it.

      I also want to praise you for your perseverance with the WCST. That waiting list, it’s awful to have to wait when you are in the crisis RIGHT NOW. Many survivors just give up trying. Ironic that it’s called the Women’s Crisis Support Team but they are so strapped themselves that they put you on a waiting list. “Ma’am, can you put your crisis on hold, please? We’re understaffed and we can’t attend to you right now….” It’s not their fault: they are dreadfully underfunded.

      But you must have persevered, and it payed off because you have got a lot of help from that women’s support service.

    2. Yes the church is responsible for aiding and abetting abusive men. Likewise the court system. In Portland, Oregon, 2009 there was a huge string of murder-suicides all involving women and children being killed by either spouse or ex-spouse, also quite a few incidents sadly enough children were killed while on visitation with an abuser. I was headed into a divorce with an abusive spouse at the time, I had high hopes of a court system that would connect the dots….sadly not. Civil court NEVER translated into family court, TEN years of restraint orders against my spouse, a felony arrest, me living with the threats and stalking even after I had separated, fleeing from abuse especially legally was the worst nightmare of my life, comparable to the actual living through it. I was judged, the abuse, despite the evidence was disregarded, their belief is that “well you two will be apart now so the abuse is all over with” even though I hadn’t lived with him the four years prior, we were constantly having to move because of the constant stalking, which was used against me also regarding the kids….

      None of the judges, or the attorneys or court personnel seem to have a clue, although it’s in front of them every day. No safety nets for kids, when a women leaves, they think, “PROBLEM SOLVED”, unfortunately the kids then have to endure them without the only protective person they have. It is abuse, how women are presented with this double bind. Judged for staying, then they do an abrupt about face, looking at you as if you have a third eye for saying “THIS PERSON IS A THREAT to my children”. Most abusive men use their children as ponds, they are the obvious extension of their mother, so YEEYAH!!! The children would be at high risk of being abused by him also, as if living with him was not enough for them to endure….

      The family court system allows abusive men to farther abuse their victims with custody. The number one thing abusers tell their spouses “if you leave I will take the kids”….or throughout the relationship he abuses the children to get back at her for something he thinks she did or did not do….I had a spouse who would instigate trouble with the children if I ever took a shower when he was home, the last time I remember hearing my daughter scream, and it got me out of the shower so fast, he had grabbed her by the back of the neck, another time I was walking down the hall and heard him telling the children that their mother was lazy and she didn’t even love them. He would block me from taking care of my kids, he would mentally, verbally torture all of us, and daily strived to sow divisions between the kids and I. I could NEVER leave them alone with him, and he reveled in that power, he only would call them to ask them questions about me, he NEVER spent any actual time with them.

      He abused us over child support, he felt emboldened with power when he realized he could now throw me in jail if I refused to send the kids on visits alone with him….I fought for two years for supervised visits, but NO more visitation centers for kids….that’s why so many were lost.

      He physically abused me the entire time I endured our marriage, even when we did not live together and we would do the whole counseling bit through church, he used everything said inside against me outside. he would tell me how the pastor said this or that about my behavior, to make me not want to go anymore. He would cry to them about what a good wife I was and how he just wanted his family back, they always fell for it. The only reason he ever praised me was when people were listening to him, he even would go on and on about how bad and worthless he was and how he did not deserve me….all part of his plan to feel better about himself, and so people would see how loving of a husband he was. Of course he was rewarded with sympathy, understanding and alot of attention. They witnessed his violence, they even saw bruises on me, every word that came out of their mouths was just so damaging and ignorant.

      I can totally see how pastoral counseling keeps women form leaving much sooner than they may have on their own. No matter what evidence was before him, it was my obligation to stay, unless of course he hurt the kids, then that too was my fault according to them for subjecting the children to him!!!!! Ask a pastor if he supports spousal abuse and child abuse? In those words they will unequivocally say “absolutely NOT!!!” Yet they choose to remain ignorant, and they continue with the maltreatment of abuse situations, so I do not know what else to call that? “Cater to his needs more”, “make him feel better so he doesn’t react” blah blah blah. “Maybe it’s God’s will for you to go home at the hands of your spouse”, continually asking the victim of abuse “well what caused him to react in such a way???” Every little statement they make is blaming the victim NEVER holding the abusive man responsible. Most pastors put a Band-Aid on this thing, like it’s some sort of paper cut, but it’s more like a puncture wound, a gaping ooozing wound that is everywhere in our churches today, and everywhere being handled very badly….

      My opinion is the church, because of refusing to educate and continually turning the other way from abuse, they in effect are perpetuating the abuse of women and children. If you are not pro-actively against it, then you are in fact standing for it. Silence or apathy to an abuser is the same as telling him what he is doing is okay, giving him the pat on the back and the green light to move forward.

      Hard little pill to swallow, but unfortunately is the sickening truth.

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      1. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


        Dear Memphis Rayne, thank you so much for everything you wrote. The injustice you are suffering is TERRIBLE. I want to send you lots of hugs for what you’ve been through and are still going through. You’ve lived it all, and it’s a nightmare. I’m so glad you’ve come to our blog and I hope you hang around. We try to be a place where survivors of domestic violence are welcomed, believed and supported. And it’s amazing how we all seem to have things to offer each other.

        Did you know that Ps Jeff Crippen, my fellow administrator on this blog, lives in Oregon? And at least one of our regular commenters does too. Email me or Jeff if you want to tell us your story at length.

        It sounds like your abuser is at the more severe end of the spectrum. My first husband was not, I think, as ghastly as yours, but he nevertheless abused our daughter when she was with him on visitation. It was horrible; but it did end up with me being able to pull the plug on any more visitation. I feel for you, sister.

      2. If you are not pro-actively against it, then you are in fact standing for it.

        That’s exactly it.

  5. Yes, Barb! I’m laughing because that is exactly how it works! So ironic! There was a private fire department in the 70s that served the outlying rural areas around here. They were nicknamed “The Foundation Savers” because you’d call and say that you had a structure fire, but they wouldn’t show up for about an hour! Sort of the same thing.

    The underfunding issue is major. I received a lot of very bad legal advice from them early on that messed up my entire case. It has dragged on, cost a lot of money, and subjected my kids to emotional abuse for a year and a half because the case was mishandled from the gate. They just have too many well-meaning but undertrained volunteers trying to make up for the holes that desperately need [to be] filled by qualified individuals. However, that being said, the woman I referred to above, who I often refer to as “my DV advocate” is an AMAZING woman. I frequently refer compliments to her and credit her with how far I’ve made it. She’s a powerhouse of never-ending energy and compassion. She and the director, both of whom I’ve mentioned in my blog, unfortunately can’t run the show alone. They are both well-educated and well-trained, but they are only two people. If the funding were in place I’m certain this God-send of a service would use the funding to train their volunteers and respond quicker.

    I persevered like a drowning woman trying to reach a buoy. I knew he was going to end up killing me.

    Amen! This is a spiritual battle! And, I think often times it’s just a matter of the dark spirit in one being unwilling to go against itself in another.

  6. Thank you, Barbara, for going to this conference and for giving us such a detailed and insightful report. When it comes to DV prevention I wish lived in New Zealand. However, I am not so sure about the condition of the church there and here in the U.S. it is bad enough. All of these therapies and how complicated they are to properly execute just reminds me of how convoluted the sinful human heart is and how great Christ’s work in making us new creations is.

  7. I am just crying at the stories just in these brief responses. What seems so obvious and clear to anyone IN the situation.

  8. Just adding this link to What Men Can Do, a new website by No to Violence. [What Men Can Do now redirects to No to Violence. Editors.] I’ll also put the link on our Resources page.

    This is how the site describes itself [Internet Archive link]:

    What Men Can Do publishes information about how men can respond to and prevent men’s violence against women….

    We hope that you will find these tips useful to help create safer and less restrictive lives for women and children in your networks and communities, and beyond. Through this website you can:
    —listen and learn about men’s violence against women,
    —understand how inequality between men and women still exists, and how this impacts on women and children,
    —reflect on your own choices that might impact on equality for women,
    —learn how to support friends, family members or colleagues who might be experiencing violence,
    —feel more confident to respond to sexist jokes and comments,
    —become aware of some of the pitfalls that men can fall into when engaging in activities to prevent violence against women, and
    —read and hear tips on what you can do in various settings to prevent violence against women….

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