Interventions with Men who are Violent to their Partners: Strategies for Early Engagement


  • Peter J. Adams, PhD, DipClinPsych, Social and Community Health, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

  • I wish to thank the other co-facilitators I have worked closely alongside in the stopping violence courses on Auckland’s North Shore, especially Richard Bennett and Norris Peel. I particularly wish to acknowledge the memory of Neil Bibby who contributed generously to our programs and who died in September 2002. I am also grateful to my colleagues Alison Towns, Nicola Gavey, Janet Fanslow, and Ray Nairn for their encouragement and feedback in the writing of this paper.

Address correspondence to Dr Peter Adams, Associate Professor, Social and Community Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92-019, Auckland, New Zealand; E-mail:


Practitioners who view intimate partner violence as a set of strategies aimed at maintaining positions of power and privilege often face an engagement dilemma when men at their first contact talk of themselves as disempowered by circumstances such as separation, loss of access to children, legal problems, substance abuse issues, and their own history of being abused. This paper explores how a language-oriented approach to violence can assist practitioners in responding to abuser’s current perceptions while avoiding collusion with justifications for violence. It examines common ways of speaking that men will employ to justify their violence then explores practical ways to identify and neutralized these messages before exploring personal opportunities for change.