One of the best tools for helping people examine their cruel behavior in relationships is the Control Log. In various forms the Control Log has been around for a long time. I think it may have been used in the very first battering intervention class that I ever attended, approaching 30 years ago. This tool is most often used within a group, examining one individual’s situation where they had used violence or cruelty. (Check out our video on Control Log uses here)
For those who are not familiar with the Control Log, it is in the form of a worksheet, It has sections intended to look at a participant’s (1) Actions, (2) Intentions, (3) Beliefs,(4) Minimization, denial, and blame, (5) Impacts on themselves and their partner/kids, (6) What nonviolent choice could have been made. The Family Peace Initiative added sections for surface feelings (the emotions that other people saw); Adverse Feelings (The emotions hiding beneath the surface feelings); and the Shadow Message (a core belief).
If you are wanting to use a Control Log in class and you would like to engage the entire group in the process, there are a couple of variations that can be employed.
- If you are focusing on an individual, have the individual list out their specific actions. Write their actions on a white board. Have the remainder or the group discuss possible “intentions” of these actions. Ask the individual if any of the suggested intentions applied, and then write these or circle them on the board. Do this for each of the following sections. Have the group brainstorm possibilities and have the individual pick from the group’s suggestions those that apply to their circumstance.
- Try a group Control Log. In a group style Control Log, we are not working with a single participant. We are looking broadly at a topic such as “emotional abuse”. We identify the “actions” by asking each member of the group to identify 2 ways they have been emotionally abusive in relationships. We write these on the board. We then go around asking each group member to name 2 intentions, beliefs, etc. By using the control log this way, the entire group will be able to examine their own abusive behaviors, in detail, simultaneously. It works great and can be effective in helping group members who are generally reluctant to own abusive behaviors.
- You might also try a trauma-focused Control Log. Check out the video that Tish Taylor, Audra Fullerton and I put together to show how this is done. A trauma-focused Control Log creates opportunities to explore the “River of Cruelty” as it establishes what we describe as a “bridge” between the cruelty that someone has inflicted upon others and the cruelty that someone experiences long before they were cruel to anyone.
Helping participants to discuss their own abusive behavior can be challenging. Tools like the Control Log can help to normalize these discussions and can invite participants to explore their behavior in a less threatening manner.
Check it out and let me know if it is helpful!