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Domestic violence is probably one of the oldest and, ironically, most condoned problems in human history. It permeates every society regardless of culture, race, age, religion, or language. Although the problem is universal in nature, principles for working with abusive men essentially grew out of a Western perspective, with little attention to the treatment needs of the non-western perpetrator. The multicultural demography of most North American societies today poses a significant challenge for practitioners who are expected to be culturally sensitive when working with ethno-specific abusers.
The Chinese Family Life Services of Metro Toronto (CFLSMT) offers domestic violence intervention programs for abusive men within the Chinese community in the Greater Toronto area. The program was specifically developed to address pertinent cultural issues related to the Chinese male batterer by adopting a practical, psychoeducational and solution-focused approach.
Traditionally, Chinese culture has placed human relationships into structured roles and hierarchies, where members of the family are expected to adhere to their specified role in order to maintain family harmony. As provider for the family, a man may feel obligated to be in control of the family; for the harmony of his family not only reflects who he is as a person, but also the quality of his manhood. In addition, family matters and marital conflicts are often concealed for fear of "losing face." To the extent that violence has dishonored the family name, many may experience immense shame and humiliation. Counsellors must, therefore, be sensitive when engaging the batterer; rather than inducing further shame through head-on confrontations. The batterer may be empowered by developing goals that foster family harmony. Many Chinese men may have only a vague idea of what constitutes wife abuse. This is because incidences of family violence are often handled differently in their hometown or may carry a different connotation and meaning to the abuser. Hence, Chinese men may feel that a strong social injustice has been leveled against them, and that they are experiencing racial discrimination in their new country.
with a psychoeducation and solution-focused approach thus seem appropriate for
working with Chinese batterers. Since traditional Chinese society emphasizes structured
social interaction, counselling that reflects heavily on feelings or on helping
the client to gain insight into his problems may be viewed as too ambiguous. Consequently, programs that focus on the attainment of concrete goals are likely
to be well-received. Many men may also experience a loss of self-esteem as part
of their immigration experience. Counsellors can also provide tangible and practical
resources to assist the men to develop adaptational and vocational skills, thus
enabling them to regain their self-competency. In addition to fostering acknowledgment
of abuse, members of the batterer group are also encouraged to be accountable
for their own solution through the development of a personalized counseling goal.
When the idea of making change is his own, the abuser will be more likely to invest
in solving his problem. In doing so, his sense of agency, self-esteem, and face
will be reinstated.
Reflection Exercise #6
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