We spoke with Markus O. from the Männerberatungsstelle (men’s advice centre) in Vienna.
Together with the Interventionsstelle gegen Gewalt (anti-aggression intervention centre), it offers violent men the possibility of confronting their behaviour and learning alternative strategies.
What kind of men hit their partners?
Men who have never learned to control their aggressive feelings in difficult and conflict situations with their partners. They have often experienced violence themselves, but this is no excuse for their behaviour.
Why are they violent?
Because they feel powerless. Because the often see or know no other way of solving their problems with their partners. They are usually violent as a way of controlling and maintaining their power and position in the family.
Is it possible to learn how to confront conflicts without violence?
Absolutely! They can do so by coming to terms with themselves and discovering the resources they possess for solving problems without violence. They have to learn to question their own notion of men and women. It helps to know how to argue properly, how to find compromises, how to treat the other person with respect, how to express themselves, even if there is shouting.
What is anti-aggression training? How does it work?
It’s training for men who want to try to change their violent behaviour and confront their conflicted and violent attitudes to others. In the courses they learn how to deal with difficulties with their partners without violence. These courses are carried out with victim protection experts from the Interventionsstelle and a consultant or psychologist from the Männerberatungsstelle.
Do you offer help for male victims of domestic violence?
Yes, there’s help for men. They can confront their experiences of violence by talking about them or in therapy sessions. Many men are victims of violence by other men. They can learn how to develop strategies to help them to avoid such behaviour patterns in future.