“The Lightning Rod”: Reflections of a Female Facilitator of Men’s Groups
Keywords:group dynamics, female facilitator, men, partner assault, violence, patriarchy, growth
Framed by feminist theories, the Partner Assault Response (PAR) group offered by the John Howard Society (JHS) in Canada helps men understand the impacts of intimate partner violence and challenge underlying beliefs that perpetuate the cycle of violence toward women. This paper—drawing on my field journals and participant observation—narrates my unique experience as a female part of a facilitator duo and includes salient actions for supporting participants’ journeys. However, facilitating men’s groups is fraught with pitfalls for female facilitators. The paper also makes explicit the implications of my experiences for other social workers and helping professionals. The central implication rests on the usefulness of sociological, systemic, and structural lenses—including feminist theory, socialization theory, the developmental perspective, and social learning processes and group dynamics—to foster changes in the cognitive, emotional, motivational, and behavioral patterns of male perpetrators of violence and their interactions with women.
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NARRATIVES OF PROFESSIONAL HELPING
Cleveland State University
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