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Fathering of Violent Men: Constriction and Yearning

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 14 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2008 Pages: 457-482
Guy Perel; Einat Peled
Date Published
April 2008
26 pages
Indepth interviews with 14 abusive men identified through domestic violence intervention centers in Israel focused on what it meant for them to be a father to their children.
The men's basic attitude toward fathering was positive, as they gave high priority to being a "good father," as they perceived what this meant. Some even believed they were "good fathers;" however, most perceived that there were internal and external forces that continually impaired their efforts to be a good father. These included their own childhoods, their personal limitations, the children's exposure to violence, and having to be coparents with their intimate partner. In practice, their fathering consisted mostly of providing housing and sustenance for their children and attempting to control their behavior. They tended to yearn for a closer, deeper connection with their children, but apparently had few psychological skills and resources for achieving this closeness, combined with a tendency to meet their psychological needs through controlling and violent behavior when these needs were frustrated. The authors suggest that allowing abusive men an indepth exploration of fathering as a meaningful and sensitive aspect of their lives may also facilitate change in other domains of intervention by providing access to the longings of their inner worlds that might otherwise remain hidden from exposure to therapy. 1 figure and 65 references