Working with Men to Prevent Violence Against Women: An Overview (Part One)

This document provides an overview of current efforts involving men in the prevention of violence against women. This document discusses men role in prevention, what is effective, and cultural issues and considerations in working with men.

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VAWnet Summary:

Working with Men to Prevent Violence Against Women: An Overview (Part One) by Alan Berkowitz (October 2004).

In Brief:

There is a growing awareness that men, in partnership with women, can play a significant role in ending violence against women. This has led to an increase in programs and activities that focus on men's roles in preventing violence against women. Men's anti-violence programs are informed by the understanding that violence against women hurts women and that men can have an important influence on reducing violence by changing their own attitudes and behavior and by intervening to prevent other men's violence.
This paper provides an overview of current efforts involving men in the prevention of violence against women. Part One discusses men's role in prevention, what is effective in men's prevention, and cultural issues and considerations in working with men. Part Two discusses best practices in prevention, provides an overview of different program modalities and formats, and reviews pedagogies that can be used in working with men to prevent violence against women.
Prevention programs can take the form of workshops that meet one or more times, social marketing and social norms marketing campaigns, and public events. These activities are based on the understanding that male intimate violence is gendered and they share a number of common assumptions: that men have a role in preventing violence against women, that men need to be invited to be partners in solving the problem, that small, interactive-all male groups facilitated by men are particularly effective, that positive anti-violence values and actions of men need to be strengthened, and that men must work in collaboration with women in these efforts.
The literature evaluating these programs is limited, with the majority of research conducted on sexual assault prevention programs for college students and dating violence programs for students in high schools and middle schools. The college literature suggests that for young adult men all-male programs facilitated by other men using an interactive discussion format are the most powerful form of intervention for changing men's violence-prone attitudes and possibly behaviors. Younger high-school and middle school dating violence programs offered in mixed gender contexts have been found effective in changing attitudes and behaviors, but these formats have not been compared with all-male formats to determine their relative efficacy as has been done with college men. There is also preliminary evidence supporting the efficacy of social norms media interventions to address men's violence.
It is important that men who provide these programs work to develop strong alliances and accountable relationships with women doing this work, and that they examine how male privilege and sexism may impact their leadership. It is also necessary that prevention programs be designed which are relevant to the variety of men's communities that exist based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, and other identities.
Successful prevention programs are comprehensive, relevant, intensive, incorporate positive messages, and may employ one or more of the following strategies: fostering empathy towards victims, changing individual men's attitudes and behaviors, teaching men to intervene against other men's behavior, and using social marketing strategies to foster positive norms.

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This Applied Research paper and In Brief may be reprinted in its entirety or excerpted with proper acknowledgement to the author(s) and VAWnet, a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, but may not be altered or sold for profit.