Domestic Violence: The Abusers: Insecurity 'led to vicious circle'

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The Independent Online
'THE TEA wasn't on the table when I'd got home. I'd had a very bad day at work and I just saw red,' Brian said, writes Nicola Barry.

'I remember dragging my wife upstairs by the hair and tying her on the bed. I then paraded around the house shouting and screaming. I worked myself up into a real frenzy.'

He fetched petrol, poured it on the bed and for an hour tormented her by playing with matches. 'She was petrified. I have to admit I used to enjoy seeing her like that. I need to feel in total control.'

Brian (not his real name) admitted, in an interview in the Edinburgh Evening News, beating his wife regularly. He felt insecure and believed he could only maintain relationships through force. 'You batter because you feel insecure. But the more you batter the more you know the woman wants away from you and the more insecure you feel. It's the original vicious circle.'

His wife eventually went to the police. Brian believes it saved either her life - or his if she had cracked and killed him in his sleep. It is five years since he last attacked her, claiming intensive therapy has forced him to confront his violent behaviour.

For others therapy is not so successful. After a year on a similar programme, John, who admits attacking several partners and was sentenced to prison for the latest incident, said: 'I got nine months and all I did was push her. Some women enjoy violence. I mean, why do they keep on taking a man back when they know he is violent?

'I am doing this (therapy) programme to keep me out of prison. Quite honestly, when I listen to what some of the other men on this programme have done to women, I wonder whether I really need to be in this group at all.'

It is because the success of men's therapy groups remains unproven that many working with abused women believe scarce resources may be better targeted. 'Men's groups are only a partial solution . . . We need to arrest and charge abusers, prevent the problems through public education and by providing services for women,' Sandra Horley, director of Refuge - the world's first women's refuge, in Chiswick, west London, said.