Men who batter

Nancy Nason-Clark (left) and Barbara Fisher-Townsend are releasing their book Men Who Batter. The authors interviewed 100 men to get a better understanding of the roots of domestic violence. (Submitted by Nancy Nason-Clark)

The roots of domestic violence can often be found early in a person’s life and can be passed down within families, according to a new book by two New Brunswick authors.

Nancy Nason-Clark, the acting director of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre and Barbara Fisher-Townsend, a sociology professor at the University of New Brunswick, are releasing their book Men Who Batter.

The two professors spent four years researching and interviewing 100 men every six months as they went through prison and correctional programs after being convicted of domestic violence offences.

Nason-Clark said that to understand why some men become abusive toward their wives or girlfriends, it was important to get a better understanding of how they viewed their own lives.

"We wanted to hear the story, not only from women and children, but this time we wanted to hear from the perspective of the men,” she said.

'Men are violent because they're not brought to accountability by their friends, by other family member and by various institutions in our society.' - Nancy Nason-Clark

“The book looks at some of their early childhood and teenage experiences. It looks at their time in prison and what happens afterward."

They also spoke with judges, officials in the criminal justice system, community activists and faith group leaders

Fisher-Townsend said the book offers some possibilities on why men engage in domestic violence.

"Starting early in their childhood, much of their behaviour is learned behaviour that's passed down within families. It always goes back to issues of power and control,” she said.

“They often have no power in other aspects of their lives and feel that in their intimate relationships they will take power however they need to do that."

The authors say it takes a co-ordinated community effort to stop domestic violence and to rehabilitate those involved.

"Men are violent because they're not brought to accountability by their friends, by other family member and by various institutions in our society. And it will not be until we say as a culture this is unacceptable,” Nason-Clark said.

“It takes quite a while for these things to change.”

Fisher-Townsend said there have been successful changes made in communities where there has been a co-ordinated effort to tackle the problem. 

"Co-ordinated community response is bringing everyone together, faith groups, justice system, therapeutic agencies, we need to bring all these people together to plan the rehabilitation of these men," she said.