Ending cruelty in a relationship requires taking some difficult yet rewarding steps. We consider the goals for those who are engaged in FPI to be two-fold. We call these goals the steps of Getting out of the “River of Cruelty”. Getting out of the river requires that each person be responsible for:
- All of the cruelty that the participant has done to others, and
- Taking responsibility for healing the impact of the cruelty that was done to them long before they were old enough or big enough to be able to do anything about it.
Trauma and adverse experiences are never an excuse for cruel, abusive behavior. It is however, a common ingredient in the creation of a person who inflicts cruelty on others.
Our “River of Cruelty” model of batterers’ intervention is an approach that incorporates trauma-informed care into the standard cognitive-behavioral approach. One of the primary efforts of this approach is to engage with participants in an emotional space. This affective component works in depth with the fear, grief, anger, and sadness that men bring into the program. We carefully train our facilitators for over a year before they become equipped to facilitate a group for us as the primary facilitator. There is a great deal of expertise required to do this type of work, as we ask our staff to lead by example. They must all be able to do whatever we ask the participants to do, and do it better. This is a very tall order that is not for everyone.
One of the central components of this approach is a technique called “The Shadow Process”. This is often a highly emotional process that digs deep into the roots of the attitudes and beliefs that we all hold about ourselves. We connect this process to control logs, and the breaking down of any event that participants bring into the room that has an emotional load attached to it. This process quickly moves a conversation regarding any emotional reactivity about a person, to a conversation about our dangerousness and the link to past traumas.
Those who use violence, as a group, have experienced large numbers of adverse events, or traumas long before they became cruel themselves. We routinely deal with these issues in our group rooms. From physical to sexual abuse, emotional cruelty and abandonment, these traumatic events are routinely discussed and processed. We work hard to connect the “river of cruelty” from the cruelty they have experienced to the cruelty they have done to others. It must be emphasized at this point that cruelty experienced is NEVER an excuse for cruelty inflicted upon others. Inflicting cruelty on someone else is simply evidence that one has not been completely responsible for healing the impact of the cruelty experienced. Once we heal that impact, we stop passing cruelty on to others.
In this audio recording, Dorthy explains the different motives of those who batter and the connection to Human Trafficking.