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Showing posts with label DAVID MANDEL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DAVID MANDEL. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DAVID MANDEL AND BATTERER INTERVENTION PROGRAMS

In the course of going through my divorce, I was alerted to a Mr. David Mandel who works out of Canton, CT at David Mandel and Associates, LLC.  As a result, I took the time to review his website and get to understand the kind of work that he does. 

For those of you who are interested, he has some informative articles on his website about domestic violence that are really worth reading.  But for those of you who do not have the time, let me just give you the highlights of the information available on Mr. Mandel's website. 

David Mandel has worked for over 20 years advising and training professionals in the states of Connecticut, Florida and New York in the field of domestic violence. He is responsible for Establishing the Non-Violence Alliance which is a national leader in the field of batterer accountability and change.  The primary focus of the Non-Violence Alliance has been to provide counseling for men who batter and to work for ending violence in families throughout Connecticut. 

In general, the primary thrust of the work Mr. Mandel does is to work with Batterers in order to prevent and reduce violence.  One program David Mandel and Associates has is called "The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative (RFI).  The Director of the Responsible Fatherhood Iniative, Mark Larson, states that the the intention of the program is to engage fathers in the lives of women and children in a more responsible way. 

According to Lawson, what the initiative tries to do is to understand how the batterer's behavior can affect the women and children who are affected by it, and to encourage fathers to change their behavior for the better.  Some of the work involves understanding that if a woman behaves defensively in the face of ongoing abuse, this isn't some form of mental illness as some professionals mistakenly conclude, but a justifiable response to the abuse. 

It also involves instructing fathers who are willing to make changes on how to make those changes for the better.  And, at the same time, seeing positive changes as a result of educating abusive fathers on how to better their behavior, caseworkers and mothers have the opportunity to respond to those changes and either allow the father to play a greater role in the lives of his children or not as the case may be. 

A program like this plays an important role in making sure the abuse stops, but at the same time allows the father the opportunity to play a meaningful role in the lives of the children.  As Mark Lawson states, the program has a double commitment to the safety and wellbeing of the mother and children, and also to educating batterers on how to become responsible fathers. 

There is also a "Safe and Together" program which trains state workers on how to be more effective when working with the victims of domestic violence as well as batterers.  

David Mandel and his colleagues also provide counseling for batterers either on a voluntary basis or when it is mandated. 

All of this said, I have tremendous misgivings about the whole concept of providing counseling for batterers.  The whole "safe and together" idea strikes me as somewhat oxymoronic. 

I have spoken to people who provide counseling and asked them whether batterers improve their behavior as a result of counseling and the overall response that I get is that no, they don't.  Also, there have been many studies done to see whether batterer intervention programs work and they also show very little improvement in the behavior of batterers after counseling. 

I mean, these are individuals with psychopathic personality traits who lack empathy or the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, all of which is required in order to make changes in behavior. 

So why is so much money going into these programs when the results are so pitiful?  Wouldn't these funds be used better supporting the vicitims of domestic violence and assisting in their recovery?  Just saying?!?  

Another problem I see is what happens with convicts who participate in jailhouse counseling, batterers will just get to be more fluent and more intelligent about evading and avoiding and manipulating the system as the result of programs like this.  They will learn the vocabulary, learn the talk, but totally avoid the walk.

At the same time, victims of domestic violence will be held hostage by government workers who tell them that they need to cooperate in the recovery of the man who battered them and also allow such men access to the children so they can exercise their parenting skills.  It sounds to me as if such programs will give men like this even greater opportunities to coerce and brutalize women, and now do it under the aegis of programs with sappy sounding names. 

The bottom line is, evil is evil, you can't get it to balance a ball on its nose (i.e. get a batterer to stop abusing) like a trained seal.  Thoughts anyone?

To be honest, I've had conversations with David Mandel.  I haven't found him that helpful.  But he is out there.  He is on the scene and clearly having an influence, so we shouldn't ignore him.  If you are interested in learning more about him or think someone could benefit from his programs his website is at:  http://www.endingviolence.com/