Mirrors on the Wall: Identification and Confrontation in Group Processes With Male Batterers in Prison


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Abstract

Prison-based programs for male batterers are rare, and seldom documented and studied. The current study is an exploratory, qualitative research describing and analyzing the lived experience of men who participated in a unique prison-based intervention program. The study emphasizes an emic (internal) perspective of the batterers and uses their interpretations and meanings as the source for understanding their inner perceptions, interpersonal relationships, and the underlying social–emotional–cognitive processes. The present article is a case study based on thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with 16 inmates in the program; their age range is 32–55 years. Seven are married, two have remarried, and nine are divorced. Two major processes emerged from the interviews. The first is a sense of identification with the life stories of other inmates, facilitating reflective processes in regard of their violent behavior. The second process was the group process of confrontation, in which the interviewees participated as both receivers and active actors. The process of confrontation serves as a medium by which “truth” is reflected to the participant by other group members, thus enabling and facilitating the development of self-awareness. The insights into group interpersonal processes and their effects on the construction of the self and of others, may serve as a bridge that can help professionals in the field of intimate partner violence to incorporate relationships as a major dimension beyond the concrete content that arises in men’s group processes.

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