Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Slaying the Beast Inside

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Slaying the Beast Inside

Article excerpt

Hannah Busch

HIS mind remains blank about the day his violence forced his partner to need stitches in her head.

To this day, a Maryborough dad canat recall how or why he hurt his former partner and the mother of his children.

It is one incident in what he labels an extensive history of domestic abuse over the course of the five-year relationship.

The man, who cannot be identified, is part of a group of domestic abuse offenders attempting to change through Safe Choices, a group counselling program that teaches men about emotion, choice and removing violence from their lives.

Offenders who find themselves in the program are aged anywhere from 17 up to their 60s.

They can be referred from other counselling programs, government organisations and from the parole system, while a small percentage of attendees have voluntarily put themselves through the free course.

Only a few weeks ago, Safe Choices was accredited to allow Hervey Bay and Maryborough magistrates to refer domestic violence offenders.

Program manager Lyn Newton said the 14-week program touched on responsibility, stress, and what witnessing abuse meant for children.

Much of the program focuses on teaching offenders that while anger is a normal emotion, reacting to it through abusive behaviour is unequivocally a choice.

aIt is about supporting the person, but not their behaviour,a she said.

In the first weeks of the course, some participants donat even recognise their behaviour as abuse.

aA lot of blaming goes on,a Mrs Newton said.

Many have a sense of entitlement and a need for control over their partner, whether it means a meal on the table, control over their social life or demanding sex.

On the Fraser Coast, Mrs Newton said the most prevalent forms of domestic abuse seen at UnitingCare were emotional and sexual abuse.

She hoped the courts would begin referring more men to the program, with the number of domestic violence protection orders issued in Fraser Coast courts only increasing. …

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