Love and Ethics: Working With Men Who Have Abused

 In Article

I have worked with thousands of men who have acted in cruel, thoughtless and at times a violent manner towards others. I recently came across an article written by Alan Jenkins (Shame, Realisation and Restitution: The Ethics of Restorative Practice. ANZJFT Volume 27 Number 3 2006 pp.153-162).

Here is a quote from that article:

“Over many years, I have struggled to hold my practice accountable to this concept of love. When a man attempts to justify shockingly abusive behaviour and appears to show indifference, even contempt, for those he has harassed and terrified, I find it difficult to be respectful and open to possibilities. I must make it my business to try to understand what family members have experienced as a result of being subjected to his abuse. If I failed to experience outrage and grief, I would become part of the problem. Yet I must find ways to act from love rather than from states of judgemental tyranny, when working with such a man. I rely upon my community of colleagues and their love, for critique and support in this challenging endeavour.”

– Alan Jenkins

It is rare that I read about therapists writing about love, but that is what I found to be helpful in my work. I have felt the judgment in me, and struggled to connect to love and compassion, knowing that it is only through accessing love and compassion that I will potentially be able to connect with this man, and access his own love and compassion for himself, and for those he cares most about. If that man touches into his own core values, what really matters to him, he is more likely to open up and see things from a different lens. Holding him accountable through all this is the key.

Thanks for reading,
Alistair

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