Originally published in December 2005.
Never has the voice and message of the Men’s Resource Center for Change (MRC) been more needed than it is today. With the drumbeat of war still a loud and persistent part of each of our lives, the relationship between how boys and young men are socialized and the narrow, dangerous effect that training has on us cannot be overstated. From the misogyny and violence in some hip hop lyrics to key male government officials sanctioning torture, it is clear that work with men needs as many friends and supporters as ever before.
In November, I was privileged to join six staff from the MRC in Detroit where 550 other men and women—leaders in domestic violence prevention work in 40 states and several countries—gathered for the first national conference on batterer intervention in more than a decade. MRC staff presented two key workshops. I was so proud, and moved, to hear their presentations. It was clear to those present just how powerful the MRC model of working with men truly is.
“A Partners’ Program” and “After the 40 Week Group—Now What?”
I wish you could have been among the hundred people each who crowded into our two workshops. Sara Elinoff Acker and Jan Eidelson detailed the quiet strength of our partners’ program, which sensitively and comprehensively supports women dealing with the reality of their partner’s abuse. Then Russell Bradbury-Carlin and Scott Girard recounted how we created and continue to run a pioneering program of follow-up groups for men who have gone through the basic 40-week program we began offering in 1989.
Our approach, which we call “compassionate confrontation,” is powerful because of one simple, profound truth: we believe in men. That might sound like a colossal contradiction considering the crisis in masculinity we now face. But that belief actually offers a way to open the door to change for any man willing to turn the handle. Let me explain.
There are two undeniable, stark and simultaneous truths that are key to our understanding of working with men: Most men are not violent and Most violence is perpetrated by men. It is in the exquisite tension that exists between these twin realities that you’ll find the Men’s Resource Center for Change. It is where we work the fertile ground of possibility, of personal and social transformation—ground we’ve been cultivating for nearly a quarter century.
We believe in men’s potential to change. We believe in men’s ability to grow. We believe in men’s desire to heal. We believe in men’s capacity to do the right thing. Simply put, we believe in men. Holding these beliefs doesn’t mean we hesitate, even for a minute, from holding men accountable for their behavior. We must and we do. But our compassionate confrontation model offers a portal through which motivated men can enter. If they choose to, they can then begin the arduous work of self-inquiry, personal inventory-taking and, ultimately, reparative actions—trying to make right what they have made terribly wrong. It is challenging work.
As proud as we are of the work we do in our Moving Forward domestic abuse prevention program, that is only part of what we are all about. Believing in men is the key to everything we do.
At this dark time of the year, we are buoyed by our connection with people like you and we appreciate our connection as we turn toward the light. In the coming year we will redouble our efforts to collaborate with women working to create harmony in the home and in our world. We will continue to look at ways to sharpen a new vision of manhood. At the same time we will continue to develop ways for younger males to make the journey to manhood a healthy one. We welcome you to join us. Please consider supporting the Men’s Resource Center for Change with a gift before the end of the year. To make a tax-deductible, contribution online, just click here, or you can send a contribution to the MRC for Change at 236 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01002. Thank you.
May the new year be peace filled for you and yours.