This week, a talk on Domestic Violence offers a glimpse into the “minds of angry and abusive men.” It’s led by Jason Brewer, whose patients are convicted offenders, ordered by a judge to attend counseling.
It’s part of a series of events put on by RESPONSE, a non-profit that assists survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Txell Pedragosa is the organizations’ program director. She says, in working with survivors, she’s seen that abusive men often blame their partners.
“Like ‘you push my buttons’ like ‘you want to talk about something when I’m not ready and you escalate things’” Pedragosa said.
And, she says society does the same thing
“We use a lot of ‘she’s crazy’ you know?”
Pedragosa wants to switch that conversation to talk about the offender’s behavior instead.
“It’s male privilege rooted in the patriarchal traditions, and its how they manifest their sense of entitlement so there is a lot we need to do to change our culture” Pedragosa said.
“I think we are seeing more and more of a cultural change,” said Jason Brewer, who works with offenders through Alpine Springs Counseling.“I just think there is a huge boys club.”
Brewer’s clients don’t really want to talk to him. He says there’s a fifty-fifty chance they show up for their court-mandated sessions at all.
“They come in kicking and screaming but they also tend to leave kicking and screaming,” Brewer said.”If you have a good counselor that you connect with and a group that’s coheased, I think you can effect a lot of change.”
Brewer plans to open up with some “group cohesion” during his two hour presentation this Thursday. He says it’ll be more like a therapy session than a lecture, building common ground before answering the title question “Why does he do this?”
Brewer says the answer to that question comes down to fear. Though the range of offenders is wide in terms of age, race, and class, they all in a form of self preservation.
“A lot of times these guys have distorted thinking around their crimes and they like to twist things in such a way that they are the helper, and it’s really the other person’s fault,” he said.
Once therapy works though, Brewer believes the ripple effect for positive change can reset a cultural understanding healthy relationships.
“This becomes a pyramid scheme and it works really well,” said Brewer. “We can literally change communities by changing these guys.”