NOMAS (National Organization for Men Against Sexism), strongly opposes the use of “Anger Management” or Anger Management Programs as a criminal/civil disposition or means in which to deal with violence against an intimate partner.
Over the last thirty-plus years of experience working with men in batterer programs – including the experience of domestic violence advocates – it is clear that men are not out-of-control, but in fact, use their ostensibly out-of control anger as a tactic to control, dominate, instill fear, and gain and maintain power over their partner. He is out of control of her! Men who attend batterer programs, appear at domestic violence court hearings, or when arrested by police who arrive at domestic violence calls, can and do, decide to manage their anger in ways that will not cause them to incur additional consequences. Since the majority of domestic violence perpetration is committed by men against their intimate female partners, issues for the LGBTQ community require separate considerations not included in this statement.
Whenever men are ordered to complete an Anger Management Program, it is typically shorter in duration (13-sessions) than most Batterer Programs (26 or 52 sessions) for lower-level criminal charges on an isolated incident; those same men frequently are referenced as first time offenders. This practice excuses any and all previous incidents; his behavior looks as if it was less serious, when in fact, the seriousness of his abusive behavior remains unknown with the exception of the woman he has and may continue to abuse.
Anger Management Programs and practices place blame on the victim; its practices require her to participate and take responsibility for managing his anger and behavior, simultaneously, diminishing his full accountability and responsibility for his behavior.
Anger Management Programs and practices (implies his inability to control his anger whenever anger management practices are offered as the solution to his behavior) affords him an additional opportunity to not take full responsibility for his behavior.
Anger Management practices collude with the batterer by disregarding and/or rejecting sexist, misogynist, entitlement, privileged attitudes and beliefs, which perpetuates men’s abuse of the woman in which they are partnered. Anger Management does not take into account a man’s premeditated controlling behaviors which inflict increasing fear and terror in his partner over time. It is clear that Intimate Partner Violence is not driven by a man’s anger and lack of self-control; it is clearly driven by his imposing need to have power-over, in order to maintain domination over his partner.
Anger Management practices psychologize a batterers abusive and controlling behaviors as an individual problem. Its practices and strategies ignore the social and political contexts that have historically condoned and perpetuated men’s violence against women. In the end, society is not required to assume responsibility for addressing the cultural, social, and political challenges when holding men accountable; society will not be required to achieve the endemic social, political, and institutional changes essential to ending violence against women.
Batterer Accountability Programs that embrace a social-political/anti-oppression analysis can be an option as a viable mechanism for holding offenders accountable in conjunction with the criminal and civil justice systems for acts of domestic violence against an intimate female partner. Length of orders to programs should be no less than 26-session minimum and may be increased (40-sessions or 52-sessions) based on the seriousness of the offense as determined by the court or agent of the courts. Non-compliance with orders must incur predictable consequences from the court, or agent of the court, that conveys the seriousness of domestic violence.
Gregory R. White, For the NOMAS Ending Men’s Violence Task Group