AMEND Essay

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AMEND, or Abusive Men Exploring New Directions, emerged in 1977 out of the Denver Commission on Human Relations to meet the community’s needs for intervention with abusive men whose partners had sought shelter. Permanent AMEND offices were established throughout metro Denver in 1985 to provide group and individual counseling services to men court-ordered into and voluntarily seeking batterer intervention treatment.

Philosophy Underlying Treatment

Batterer treatment at AMEND is guided by seven basic tenets. AMEND believes

  1. that the feminist conception of male violence as a means of attaining power and control explains significant amounts of the behavior of men who are violent.
  2. intervention with men who batter requires a values laden and directive approach. AMEND states that violence is a crime and affirms that violence and abuse are wrong and unethical behaviors.
  3. violence and abuse are responses which people choose out of a range of potential behaviors. The victim is not responsible for violence and abuse directed at her. The perpetrator is responsible for his behaviors.
  4. teaching behavioral change is the first priority of the counselor to violent men. Once an offender has stopped his abusive behaviors, he and the counselor can begin to work with the intrapsychic features of his problems.
  5. intervention designed to end violent and abusive behavior permanently is a long-term process requiring 1 to 5 years.
  6. ending violent and abusive behavior is a complex process requiring multimodal intervention.
  7. treatment of batterers requires special skills and training.

The content of AMEND’s curriculum is both attitudinal and behavioral. Counseling sessions employ a cognitive-behavioral approach and focus on identification and awareness of the problem, taking responsibility for the abuse, and building empathy, conflict resolution, and communication skills. Specific group sessions address family of origin, entitlement, victim blaming, disrespect, addictions, irrational beliefs, gender stereotypes, parenting, and more.

Victim Advocacy Services

AMEND added its advocacy services component in 1987 to provide advocacy and support to—and better ensure the safety of—the partners and children of the men in counseling. AMEND’s victim advocates remain in contact with the partners of AMEND’s clients and with its counseling staff, thus providing a vital link. Advocates may confidentially inform counselors of unreported drug and alcohol abuse and threats to victims and children. With this information counselors are assisted with focusing on clients’ specific problematic behaviors. Similarly, advocates may relate critical information to the victims, alerting them to clients’ successes and failures in the program and alerting them to signs of imminent danger.

AMEND also recognizes the victimization suffered by children exposed to batterers and thus collaborates with Safe House Denver to provide individual and group counseling to children whose fathers attend one of AMEND’s counseling groups.

AMEND’s advocates offer educational support groups for victims, including a support group for gay male victims of domestic violence. AMEND also collaborates with Family Tree to provide a support group for friends and family members of domestic violence victims, giving them tools they may use to assist those victims.

Bibliography:

  1. Bancroft, L., & Silverman, J. (2002). The batterer as parent. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  2. Evans, P. (1996). The verbally abusive relationship. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media.
  3. Gondolf, E. (1984). Men who batter. Holmes Beach, FL: Learning Publications.
  4. Gondolf, E. (2002). Batterer intervention systems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  5. Jones, A., & Schechter, S. (1992). When love goes wrong. New York: HarperCollins.
  6. AMEND: http://www.amendinc.org

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