OPINION: So considerably more men are going through anger management programmes in South Canterbury than was the case a decade ago.
That's one of those statements that could be used to support different perspectives on domestic violence, without the proper context around it. It could be argued that such an increase meant the problem was growing, but it could just as easily be viewed as an indication that increased awareness of the problem had led to more cases being identified, resulting in the increased numbers of those going through the programmes.
It's the context that we need to examine such issues properly, and it was provided in our lead story yesterday. In the year to June, 90 men referred themselves to programmes under the auspices of the South Canterbury Violence Intervention Project (SCVIP). That was out of a total of 162 men on such programmes, meaning 56 per cent of those on the programmes were self-referred.
What that says about how many men there are in South Canterbury who have issues in managing their anger, and how that might feed into actual incidents of domestic violence, is not absolutely clear, but it certainly does indicate that more and more of the men who struggle with such problems are confronting them.
SCVIP manager Allan Walker told the Herald public campaigns like "It's Not OK" had contributed to self-referrals. The White Ribbon campaign, which specifically targets violence against women, will no doubt have helped as well, with prominent men in local communities often featured wearing the campaign's ribbons.
Like so many societal problems, bringing them out into the light is usually the best way to address them.
The front of the SCVIP leaflet features a question that, for those who do struggle with the issue, would be decidely confronting: "Is your anger/violence hurting others and yourself?"
It's not that different a question from "Is your drinking hurting others and yourself?" In both cases, though, an answer in the affirmative would not be easy to give, but would be the undoubted first step towards addressing that problem.
So the fact that in the year to June, 90 men in South Canterbury had the intestinal fortitude to answer yes to that question is one that should encourage us. It won't have been easy, it will have been shaming, in the same way that standing up and telling a group "My name is X and I am an alcoholic" would be.
But it means they've started down the road to a solution. If more men having the guts to do that means an increase in the overall numbers on such programmes, we should see that as a positive thing.
- The Timaru Herald