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{sent to Western New York Catholic monthly periodical, 1 January 2001}


It is good to know that the “Man to Man” domestic violence intervention program has expanded geographically to another county.

However, there remains a silence regarding a real need that it NOT filled in our diocese or seemingly anywhere. Many victims of domestic violence and especially non-physical abuse are grown men. There is no acknowledgement of this because our society assumes that the male parent is the dominant, and therefore responsible party in any relationship or family. This is hardly the case. The long-term emotional and psychological trauma of a man is just as real, though the stigmata attached to a male being a “victim” pushes men to bear the pain silently.

Worse yet, the “Man to Man” program, regardless of good intentions and positive results, has sometimes been unintentionally misused by the courts. A few years ago, I volunteered to participate in the course as a means to explore my anger and frustration is a relationship before a problem could arise. What I encountered was a roomful of men predominantly mandated by the courts to attend, a number of whom claimed to be sent there upon a first court appearance, based entirely on an accusation. The program, however, would “fail” (reject) the participant if they did not “admit” they were abusive from the start, and the man would risk a fine or even incarceration. I saw a few seemingly passive, submissive men trying to convince themselves they were abusers to stay in the program, when it was obvious they themselves were emotionally timid and broken, most likely from being on the receiving end of an abusive relationship.

If I remember correctly, a study of the Chicago family court system done in the mid-1990s showed that “abuse of spouse or children” was the number one weapon used in divorce and custody proceedings. Over 90% of the accusations were determined to be false or unproven.

If I could say anything to the staff and facilitators of “Man to Man”, and to all the family court judges, it would be to use such a powerful program carefully. Do not be completely biased by gender. And lastly, consider creating a counterpart for women who experience the same or similar problems of abuse and control as abusive men.


Ken JP Stuczynski