Help for abusers

Volunteers taking part in the Toolkit for men training.

A trauma counselling organisation is helping women and children who fall prey to violence by reaching out to the men who abuse them.

The Community Intervention Centre (CIC) is a non-profit organisation that provides free 24-hour on-site counselling in Milnerton, Table View and Melkbosstrand.

CIC manager Helen Le Roux says it’s all very well focusing on the victims of domestic violence during the 16 Days Activism For No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, but it’s also important changing perpetrators’ behaviour, and that means counselling men who abuse.

“Only offering counselling to women who are victims does not address the cause. We must also address the offender,” said Ms Le Roux.

“Once we have enabled them to change the abusive choice of behaviour, we might start changing and addressing abuse.”

Ms Le Roux reached out to Mosaic, a non profit organisation dealing with domestic violence, to train 10 CIC volunteers in the Toolkit for Men, a 10-day training programme that explores causes of violence.

Mosaic training manager Carlo Williams said they believe both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence need help.

“Often, counsellors and service providers will offer support services for victims of violence, but there is a gap in the area of working with men,” said Mr Williams, adding that the training they offer to counsellors, volunteers and social workers helps to fill that gap.

The Toolkit programme looks at gender and sexuality, communication, anger management, culture, religion, substance abuse and more. It offers men tools to deal with these issues with continual support from councillors.

“Mosaic have been providing services directed towards men and boys for a couple of years now and our counsellors have been using the Toolkit methodologies with great success,” said Mr Williams.

He said pre- and post-training questionnaires as well as feedback from the men’s partners showed the message sank in with participants.

The work was both rewarding and psychologically draining, he said.

“With our high rates of domestic abuse, many people remain affected by domestic violence, even some counsellors. It is often a very difficult field to work in.

“Counsellors hear many stories of violence every day and return home to families with such a heavy load.

“My recommendation to all counsellors, and especially those working with men who use violence, is to have supervision and debriefing structures in place as this particular field can be very rewarding but can also affect our personal lives profoundly if we don’t take care of ourselves,” he said.

Ms Le Roux said the programme was not a “quick fix”. Participants had to attend at least 10 sessions to better understand the cycle of violence and why they behaved the way they did.

“Wives or partners can’t call us and ask CIC to call their partners and force them to attend the programme – we have no statutory authority to do so, but, as a victim, she can come to CIC to attend some sessions with the trauma workers to get a better understanding of the cycle of violence and what she can do,” said Ms Le Roux.

For more information about CIC email cic@kingsleymail.co.za or visit www.cic-capetown.org.za or call the 24-hour Helpline at 082 821 3447 or visit their Facebook page.