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Can male batterers change their behavior?
Unclenching Our Fists
Abusive Men on the Journey to Nonviolence
Sara elinoff acker
his book eatures eleven rst-personstories o men rom diverse class and
racial backgrounds who have made along-term commitment to end their physicaland emotional abuse and controlling behav-iors. Tese men speak rankly about the abusethey inficted on their amilies, what it took toget them to ace themselves, and how they eelabout the damage they have caused. All par-ticipated in violence intervention programs,some or as long as ten years. o put a aceon violence and to encourage activism orreorm, most o the eleven have allowed theirphotos and real names to be used in the book.Surrounding this material are chaptersthat provide context about the disputesamong researchers about whether battererintervention programs work (only a smallnumber o batterers renounce their abuse)and chapters that address the reactionso partners to these stories. “When theMan You Love Is Abusive” is designed tocaution women not to be manipulatedby accounts o change and to outline thestages men need to pass through in thelong process o becoming accountable.“Te Last Word: Voices o Survivors” endsthe book with a ocus group discussion inwhich ormer abuse victims and advocatesrespond candidly to the men’s stories.
domestic violence / psychotherapy / gender studies
Sara Elinoff Acker
Abusive Men on theJourney to Nonviolence
I got out o the hospital and got the name o the batterer program’s director, a man named Steven. I called him or anintake, but I never made the appointment. I kept procrasti-nating. Steven kept calling and asking me about the intake.He called me every week until I nally got mysel in there.I had a lot o ear about going into the program. No guywants to be seen as a batterer. No man worth his salt wantsto be seen as someone who beats up on women. Althoughwe know men do that, this has always been “behind closed doors” stuf. It’s hard to make what was private now publicand to know that you’re going to be in a group with menwho are all batterers. And I know that i I’m in that room, it means I’m one too. Tis was not something that I ound easyto accept.o be really honest about it, there was some crazy sel-deception in my head. I was thinking, “I I do this program,maybe Leticia will stay.” So the program was something I wasdoing to keep the relationship—it wasn’t or me. . . .Te rst day o group, I measured mysel against theother men. I told mysel, “Tese guys are worse than me.” I didn’t want to see mysel like them. I wanted to think I wasdiferent. I was still in denial. . . .
excerpt from one man’s tale:
ob 2013208 g, 6 9 ih9 b&w h, u, , idhdv $39.95 IsBn
bk $9.99 IsBn 978-0-8265-1943-6
Sr elinof ackr
has been an activistin the battered women’s movementsince 1985. She worked in shelterprograms in Northern Vermont andWestern Massachusetts and in 1992started the partner contact programat Men Overcoming Violence (MOVE)in Amherst. Acker became a certifedbatterer intervention group leader in1996 and ran groups or abusive menor over ten years. She now works as apsychotherapist in private practice.
Unclenching Our Fists,
Sara Elinof Ackerrecounts her remarkable journey rom domesticviolence victim advocate to batterer interventioncounselor as a way to introduce readers to oneo the key lessons her experience taught her:abusive men can—and do—change theirbehavior i they have the courage, and will, todo so. The stories she shares provide powerulevidence o this. Unlike so much else writtenabout men behaving badly, this book isinspiring—and hopeul. It should be widely read.”
The Macho Paradox
and creator o the documentary flm
Unclenching Our Fists
ofers rare insight into heartsand minds o men who choose non-violence.Now more than ever, we need these stories andwisdom to point us in the direction o solutions.I’m inspired by the courage o the women whospoke up, the men who listened, and the authoror bringing these stories to our attention.”
Director, Children and Youth Program,Futures Without Violence