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PEACE TALKS: Understanding Domestic Violence (KUNM Airdate: May 30, 2003)

"Kindly Mother, give Your daughters power to oppose the forces of war, to prevent aggressive destruction, to establish Your laws of peace and kinship. Help women raise their children with teachings of peace. Help men resist the myths of glory in conflict. Help us all to respect life more than conquest." --- Barbara G. Walker

The monthly series on peace making will focus this time on conflict resolution programs aimed at heading off domestic violence. Our guests are Barbara Lambert, Director of Social Services for Rehobeth McKinley Christian Health Care Services. She oversees a 52-week program for domestic violence offenders called "Choosing Harmony." Also featured is Ann Kass, who recently retired after 18 years as a family court judge.

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National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Violence Against Women Office

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Criminal Justice Reference Service






THE DANCE OF ANGER: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Lerner (Paperback - 1997)

THE DOMESTIC ASSAULT OF WOMEN: Psychological and Criminal Justice Perspectives by Donald G. Dutton (Paperback - January 1995)

THE BATTERER: A Psychological Profile by Donald G. Dutton, Susan K. Golant (Contributor); Paperback

THE ABUSIVE PERSONALITY: Violence and Control in Intimate Relationships by Donald Dutton

NATIVE AMERICAN POSTCOLONIAL PSYCHOLOGY by Eduardo Duran, Bonnie Duran (Contributor) (Paperback - April 1995)


BARBARA LAMBERT: We have to help the community wake up. We have to have people start paying attention to the language that we use, the kinds of commercials we are seeing, what it is that we let our children watch, what kinds of things, we, as adults, buy into. For example, when did a romantic pass become, "He hit on me." It's like, no, no, no. It's not O.K. for him to "hit" on me. It's O.K. for him to ask me for a date.

Are there some psychological predictors of a potential domestic violence offender? ANN KASS: Data collected showed there were two major categories of offenders. One were the males who were these sort of dependent, inadequate personality types. Then on the other end of the spectrum you had the sadistic, aggressive sociopaths. And the conclusion that they reached with regard to the aggressive sociopaths is that psychology doesn't have any cure for them. We don't know what to do with them. It seems that about the only thing that makes them any better is time. Meaning that when they hit anywhere from 50 to 60, their energy levels go down and they don't have the energy to be as aggressively violent to other people. The other type - the dependent, inadequate personalities - those people are actually pretty amenable to treatment. Those are the guys who - you'll hear an awful lot of stories about domestic violence that occurs during a pregnancy. And of course, when a pregnancy occurs, their own dependency needs are in jeopardy. Those are people who aren't in touch with their feelings, they don't know they're having feelings, they don't have words for their feelings, they don't know how to talk about their feelings, so they act them out.

Ann Kass: One of the things I find troubling about the way we've been dealing with domestic violence in the criminal justice system is that we don't use the psychological tools that we have to tailor-make the results that we need. If you take a sadistic, aggressive sociopath and it's his first conviction and you convict him of a fourth degree felony, he's going to spend a year, maybe two max, in jail. And all that's going to do is make him meaner, angrier and smarter about how to be it (an offender). The simple fact is, that if you have a sadistic, aggressive sociopath on your hands, from my point of view, the appropriate sentence for someone like that, who has harmed another person, is until you're 60 years old, because that's how long you represent a danger to other people. But in the criminal justice system, if you're talking about having that kind of a sentence, I think the criminal justice system would just raise its eyebrows and shake its head and say, "that's absurd."

Spotting the sadistic, sociopath type is difficult. ANN KASS: So the best thing you can try to do is to stay away from the sadistic, aggressive sociopath and let me tell you, those people, by in large, are VERY charming. They are typically very verbally bright. BARBARA LAMBERT: They would be difficult to identify them because they ARE so charming. You wouldn't have a clue that the person you are dealing with is someone who is capable of incredible violence towards you.

How can we all help domestic violence survivors feel safe to leave dangerous relationships? BARBARA LAMBERT: Personally I think we need to take our heads out of the sand and call a spade a spade. A black eye is not "I ran into a door." So we need to say, "I notice you have a black eye, what can I do to help? How is it that you're being hurt?" Give somebody the opportunity to talk. Let them know that, even though they want to deny that there's anything going wrong in the relationship, that you're there for support. And if they need to talk they can. If they need to put copies of medical papers or social security cards or an extra set of clothes for her and the kids, that your place is willing to do that.

The value of the long treatment program for offenders. BARBARA LAMBERT: For me, anything less than 6 months doesn't work as well as it could. You need to have the length of time so that people can break through the denial and say, "Yeah, I did this." It's important that they have some time to feel safe in the group so that they can start talking with one another about what happened. During the first 3 months, offenders are minimizing, denying and blaming to their partner, what happened. "If only she'd...." they say. It doesn't make any difference what it is, it was her fault. From about 4 to 6 months, they're quieter, they're starting to take in more information. They starting to pay attention a little bit better, they're focusing, they're more relaxed in the setting. From 6 months to 12 months, we have some people asking questions, practicing the techniques that are going on, mentoring the new folks who are coming into the class. Saying things like, "I used to be just like you when I got here in this class but...I did this." They're beginning to take responsibility.


Suzanne KryderPeace Talks is a series of public radio programs that investigates how people can make peace and pursue nonviolent solutions to conflict - within themselves, their families and communities, and the world. In addition to the KUNM half-hour series, a national series is in development. Each episode of Peace Talks national series would be recorded before a live audience in a town hall format at venues across the United States and will feature a renown leader in peace studies or negotiation as well as a peacemaker chosen from the host community.

In these tumultuous times on the planet, the Peace Talks series intends to offer listeners around the globe a chance to learn useful skills to address the conflict in their own lives. Peace Talks will bring them in contact with some of the leading proponents of nonviolent conflict resolution - individuals who have made the pursuit of peace their life's work.