'It Was Me': Men who were violent toward partners speak up in online project

'It Was Me,' an online interactive project, features six men who abused their partners answering questions from women who have experienced intimate partner violence.

Interactive project explores intimate partner violence

Six men who are seeking treatment for using violence against their partners share their experiences in 'It Was Me,' an online interactive project. (It Was Me)

A new online interactive project called It Was Me tackles gender-based violence and shows that the onus to speak out against it should not solely fall on survivors but the abusers themselves.

"This project has been a real emotional roller-coaster for me," Steph Guthrie, co-director of the project, told Matt Galloway on Metro Morning Tuesday morning. "I've experienced domestic violence myself."

Guthrie and Attiya Khan directed the project, which shares the experiences of six men who have been violent toward their partners. 

Steph Guthrie, co-director of 'It Was Me,' shows the role men can play in addressing violence against women. (Makda Ghebreslassie/CBC)

The project was born out of the documentary A Better Man. It features Khan and her former boyfriend Steve reflecting on the abuse he inflicted on her, years after their relationship ended.]

The online project "It Was Me" hears from women who have experienced violence from their partners and from men who finally admit to abusing their partners.

The six men, whose voices have been altered answer questions like, "What made you think it was OK?"

They go into detail describing the abuse, which includes everything from punching walls to choking a partner.

"To me it didn't matter how I affected the other person," said one man in an interview. 

"My own feeling of self-worth or lack of self-worth have played a huge part in my abuse," explained another man. 

Hearing theses interviews caused Guthrie to experience a wave of emotions toward the men, she said.

"One of the things that I think I wasn't expecting from the project was how cathartic it would feel, to hear people speak honestly about the tactics and the justifications they used," she said.

Men particpated in group therapy

"It Was Me" joins the the #MeToo social media campaign, a global conversation that's been talking place online.

The campaign inspired women and men to speak out about experiencing sexual harassment and assault in response to the dozens of allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

One of the criticism of the social campaign was that it put the responsibility on women to speak out.

With this online interactive project, the men acknowledge their role in all of this and how they are working toward putting a stop to the violence, Guthrie said.

"A lot more people are expecting people to be accountable when they hurt somebody," she said.

But she said until now the path to getting justice and accountability has been through the criminal legal system.

"We have decades of evidence that doesn't work very well in cases of gender-based violence," she said.

"By having narratives like the ones in 'It Was Me,' — real life compelling narratives that we can reflect on — I think it can bring us all closer to that answer of what justice actually means," she said.
The "It Was Me" website states the men involved in this online project have participated in group therapy and are working on the skills to have relationships that are free of violence.