Why Worksheets for Men’s Domestic Abuse Groups Work

When you use client worksheets in domestic abuse treatment groups with court-referred clients, you provide opportunities for increased focus on topics, more interchange between the facilitator and group members, and individual as well as group exploration of thinking and behavior.

Harm and Consequences of Domestic Violence

In batterer intervention groups, your most important and most difficult task is to get men to realize how much they hurt their partners and children when they’re emotionally and physically violent. Once they open themselves to look at the swath of destruction, they will see that they need to stop.

You can lecture them about the consequences of battering, but they will feel that you’re condescending and attacking. Lecturing is deadly, and most clients tune you out after a couple minutes. At the other end of the continuum, loose group discussions provide an opportunity for clients to rail against law enforcement and the criminal justice system, and worse, their partners who called the police. These discussions foster a group environment in which you allow and therefore condone their acting out, specifically, blaming others for their domestic violence. Worksheets provide a tactic that avoids both facilitator monopolization of the group on the one hand and participant mayhem on the other.

Two Key Benefits to using Worksheets in Batterer Intervention Groups

Worksheets typically consist of several items in which clients respond to questions or statements. In a typical group discussion, you ask a question on the topic at hand and a couple people may raise their hands and supply the answer. The other eight or ten in the group may have thought for a moment of an answer, but when somebody else gives an answer, they turn minds to things that interest them more — “What will I have for lunch? Is that attractive women in the office married? How many more weeks to do I have to sit here?” The first benefit of using worksheets is that they require all group members to think of and write down an answer before somebody gives an answer.

The second benefit is that worksheets provide a variety of activities. When I taught remedial English at a small community college, I quickly learned that I needed to plan a number of short class activities in order to keep the student’s interest. The same is true of groups of court-referred clients. Here’s what happens when you distribute a worksheet to a men’s domestic abuse group.

You explain the purpose of the worksheet and ask them to answer the first question (for example, what is the definition of “abuse”?)

They think
They write
They share
You comment
You put their comments on the white board
They discuss
You summarize
You move on to the next question.

If you use a worksheet with six questions, you employ as many as 42 distinct segments during the group session. It’s easier for you and more effective for them.

For more discussion and 22 worksheets to make your group work, see the downloadable Interventions for Men who Abuse Women: Worksheets for Facilitating Domestic Abuse Groups.

What are your insights on using worksheets for facilitating domestic abuse groups?