Addressing Fatherhood with
Men Who Batter
Melissa Scaia, John Downing, and Laura Connelly
– Advocates for Family Peace
Scott Miller – Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs
History of working with
men who batter and
addressing fatherhood
Fatherhood Goals
• Goal for the curriculum: Add curricula and
sessions to BIP programming that focuses on men as
fathers and parenting partners
• Community / Systemic Goal: Every man who uses
supervised visitation and exchange for battering will
also participate in the IPMF
Goal for the development of this curriculum:
• To help end violence against women and children by
motivating men to become better fathers (or father
figures) and more supportive parenting partners.
Introduction to the beliefs about
men who batter and fatherhood
• Most men who batter are fathers
• Most of the men have developed belief systems similar to
their own fathers
• Last 30 years, BIPs have developed around the country to
address men’s violence against women
• Very little time has been spent on men as fathers and as
• Greater empathy by men toward their children’s
experiences of the violence than toward their partners’
Why Should We Focus on Fathers?
Most men who batter have some level of contact
with their children.
Many battered mothers report that their abusers
purposefully involve children in violent events
(Edelson, 2006).
Men who batter systematically undermine and
interfere with battered mothers’ parenting in
multiple ways (Bancroft, 2002).
The violence perpetrated in the home is used
to control the behavior of the other members
in the family.
Battered women want their children to have
“safe” contact with the father.
On average, children exposed to adult
domestic violence exhibit more difficulties
than those not exposed. The difficulties can
vary in range and extremity in behavioral and
emotional functioning and cognitive
functioning and attitudes (Edleson, 2006).
Most men in a batterers intervention program
(BIP) are fathers.
Many men who batter are visiting parents in
a supervised visitation center.
History of the Fathering
After Violence (FAV) Project
AFFP was chosen as a pilot site by the Family Violence
Prevention Fund as part of the Safe Havens: Supervised
Visitation and Safe Exchange grant program of OVW
• Facilitators’ experiences in groups with men who have
been abusive
• Blandin Foundation, Northland Foundation,
Minneapolis Foundation and Bush Foundation Funding
• Research, Focus Groups, and Interviews
A Shared Understanding of
Domestic Violence Theory
and Fatherhood
A Shared Understanding:
The Blueprint for Safety
Adhere to an interagency approach and collective intervention
Build attention to the context and severity of abuse into each
Recognize that most domestic violence is a patterned crime
requiring continuing engagement with victims and offenders
Ensure sure and swift consequences for continued abuse
Use the power of the criminal justice system to send messages of
help and accountability
Act in ways that reduce unintended consequences and the disparity
of impact on victims and offenders
A Shared Understanding
• Men's use of violence towards their current/expartner should be considered when determining
access to their children.
• All intervention practices must reflect an
understanding of the interdependence of mother's
and children's safety.
Theoretical Framework for
understanding fathering by
men who batter
Men who batter parent differently than other fathers and
systematically undermine and interfere with battered mothers’
parenting in multiple ways (Bancroft, 2002).
Most battered women want the children to have contact with the
father – as long as it is safe for the children.
Our culture closely ties fatherhood to dominance and strength
Men who batter often believe that the children’s mother and children
should provide unquestioning compliance.
Most men who batter to do not believe that if they have harmed the
mother that they have harmed the children
Why Does Domestic Violence Happen?
Diagnosable pathologies
It’s the relationship isn’t it?
Lenora Walker’s Cycle of Violence
Maintaining a system of dominance
Diagnosable Pathology
• The offender’s violence is explained through the diagnosis
• The focus is the individual rather than social construction
Therapy, chemical dependency treatment or
parenting evaluations and treatment
It’s the Relationship Isn’t It?
The violence is a product of each
person’s choices
Interventions could be couple’s therapy, family therapy,
and/or parent/child therapy.
The Cycle of Violence
Psychological explanation for domestic violence
• tension-building
• explosion
• honeymoon
Since anger is the driving force, managing it becomes the
intervention. Child management techniques to address anger
with children.
System of Dominance
• System of power and control tactics
• Includes:
• Physical violence
• Sexual violence
• Other tactics on Power and Control Wheel
• Men battering their family is socially constructed
• Need to balance power differential by using power of
the state
Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs
Men’s vs. Women’s
Use of Violence
• Types of violence used
• Intent of violence
• Impact of the violence
• Addressing parenting
Oppression and Resistance
Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs
Oppression and Resistance
Healthy Relationship
Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs
Critical Dialogue
Learning Critical Dialogue:
The Impact of My
Parents on Me
• Triad groups – learn from each other; ask questions
to have a deeper understanding; practice dialogue
Not a “parenting” curriculum
and addressing fatherhood work
with men who batter
Not a parenting curriculum
• Traditional parenting curriculum seeks to provide parents
with skills to parent children as circumstances arise (child
management techniques) and to increase men’s
knowledge of stages of “normal” child development
• Knowing child development stages + entitlement WILL
STILL EQUAL = battering
• This curriculum focuses on the entitlement that men have
in relationships to their children and the children’s
mother as a parenting partner
• Intended to be incorporated into and/or with a BIP
Example of Missy and Scott
• Example of Missy and Scott
• If Randy’s beliefs aren’t non-violent, then any skill
taught will be used with entitlement and violent
beliefs behind it
Coordinating a Response to
Fathers Who Batter
When are parenting skills classes
What are the risks?
What beliefs does a father need to
implement skills?
Who should skills programs be connected
The Four Themes of the Fatherhood Work
with Men Who Batter
from curriculum “Addressing Fatherhood with Men Who Batter”
Theme One: Examining Men’s Own Childhood
Experiences with their Father
Theme Two: The Impact and Effects of Men’s Abusive
Behaviors on their Children
Theme Three: Becoming a Child-Centered Father
Theme Four: Examining How Men Can Be Respectful
and Non-abusive of Their Children’s Mother and of the
Mother-Child Relationship
Fatherhood Log
• Addresses each theme
1) Childhood experiences with your own father
2) Impact of your children and your
children’s mother
3) Becoming a more nurturing, child-centered father
4) Respecting and supporting the woman as a
parenting partner
Implementing practice,
philosophy, and
principles with men
who batter as fathers
Written Curriculum, DVD, and
future Trainings
Written curriculum, “Addressing Fatherhood with Men Who
Batter” = $100
• Written by Melissa Scaia, MPA, Laura Connelly, and John Downing
• Forward by: Ellen Pence, PhD
• Edited by: John Connelly, Scott Miller, and Jane Sadusky
o DVD = $125
• Four vignettes
• 911 call
o Purchase Curriculum and DVD at: or
Contact information
Advocates for Family Peace
1611 NW 4th Street
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
[email protected]
Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs
202 East Superior Street
Duluth, MN 55802
[email protected]
Mending the Sacred Hoop
Battered Women’s Justice Project
Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
Praxis International
Advocates for Family Peace

August 2012 Training Power Point