What we do: Sponsored by The Awaken Network and located in Moscow, Idaho, Turning Point is the kind of program classically known as a Batterer’s Intervention Program. We prefer to call our class a Men’s Change Group, as it better reflects the invitation to our attendees to exchange destructive patterns of behavior for healthy ones.
Who it’s for: Turning Point is for men who have recognized they have problems with controlling others, for men whose marriages are failing, or for men whose wives have asked them to attend as a means to change.
Our Curriculum: Our group is co-facilitated by a man and a woman, ideally a husband and wife team. We call ourselves facilitators instead of teachers, because the vehicle for changed understanding is the directed dialogues engaged in by the men themselves. The class runs in cycles of three weeks, for a total of about 45 weeks. In every cycle, we will study and discuss one segment from the Equality Wheel, and the corresponding segment from the Power and Control Wheel..
For instance, in the three week cycle focused on Respect and its negative corollary, Emotional Abuse:
- On the first week we facilitate a discussion about how a man can listen to his wife without judgment, value her opinions, express gratitude to her, honor her choices, and get to know her as a person.
- On the second week we discuss examples of emotional abuse such as name-calling, guilt-manipulating, ignoring her or giving her the silent treatment, forcing her to do degrading things, making fun of her, etc.
- On the third week, we spend time role-playing or further discussing things that have come out of the men’s own personal examples. We spend a lot of time exploring the link between actions, and the intents and beliefs that underlie those actions.
Most of our attendees will discover they have some wrong beliefs about relationship, respect, hierarchy, authority, and/or parenthood. We strongly encourage transparency and vulnerability on the part of our attendees, who are often initially reluctant to admit they have a problem. Ideally, this group serves as a place where men will have their beliefs and habitual behaviors challenged, but they will also find empathy and accountability among other men who are struggling with similar things.
Is this class appropriate for men whose marriages are struggling, but not abusive? Because this class focuses on recognizing toxic or destructive behaviors, and replacing them with habits of healthy behavior, we strongly believe this class is beneficial for everyone.
Doesn’t the term “batterer” mean someone who uses physical violence? Not all men who attend batterer intervention programs are physically violent. The word batterer can be misleading. In advocacy terms, a “batterer” is anyone who systematically controls another person, by any means up to and including actual physical violence.
Do you accept men with criminal convictions? Yes, we do, but because we do not run under the auspices of the local courts, the extent to which our class can offer a legal benefit to attendees will vary. There are currently no state certified batterer intervention programs in our immediate area. As a result local courts struggle to assign appropriate remedial training for offenders. This is an ongoing conversation we are working on with enforcement and legislators. We hope to be able to offer Turning Point as a state approved program eventually, and believe that in the meantime it is one of the best options available, despite a lack of state certification. All of our attendees are volunteer, not mandated, but we are happy to work with men who have been convicted of DV offenses.
Does this class work? Yes and no. Men who have lifelong habits of relating to others on a coercive basis are often uninterested in changing. Changing ingrained habits and beliefs comes down to the choices of the people who need to change. We strive in our program to give them the best chance to see their need and make the right choice, and have seen encouraging results. A good processing group like this is the best possible first step toward real change.
What is your relationship with the men’s partners? We are not typically in close communication with them, but we try to check in with them at some point during their husbands’ attendance, and we are always available to them if they have feedback, questions, or concerns. For ongoing and more intensive support, we recommend wives and girlfriends attend the local Her Journey class, or get one-on-one counseling from someone who understands the dynamics of domestic violence.
Is this a faith based class? The curriculum we use is the Duluth Curriculum called “Creating a Process of Change for Men who Batter.” It is a secular program, but we adapt it at points to use Scripture. Our program would be appropriate for Christian or non-Christian men.
Is there a cost to attend? There is currently no cost to attend. Starting in March of 2019, there will likely be a per-class fee of between $10 and $20.
Where and when do you meet? Tuesdays, 6:30-8 pm, in the Real Life North Conference room (the old DMV in Eastside Marketplace) . New attendees are welcome at any time, but we ask that they call Peter at 208-874-3433 in advance of their first class to let him know they are planning to attend.
What level of commitment is necessary to attend the class? Turning Point runs for approximately 45 weeks. We can excuse attendees when they notify us in advance of an unavoidable conflict (e.g. sickness, work, or parenting responsibilities); otherwise, we ask that they prioritize the class. We cannot excuse attendees for avoidable conflicts, or when they fail to let us know prior to the class. If a man incurs more than two unexcused absences, we will drop him from the class and notify his wife or partner that he has chosen to drop out. He is welcome re-enroll at any time, but will need to complete a full cycle of the class in order to graduate.