Working with Those who Have Engaged in Violence

Feminisms have made huge strides in rendering visible the gendered nature of violence and then also sought ways to respond to those who have engaged in violence. How do we apply an intersectional feminist lens in responding to those have engaged in interpersonal violence? The practitioners in this chapter will show us how the narrative principles of not viewing people in totalising ways and separating the person from the problem make it possible to invite understanding of the context – the whole context – of interpersonal violence, while still inviting accountability for the enactment of violence and its effects.

Introducing Katie Christensen: Katie Christensen (She/Her) is a Wurundjeri woman who currently works as a facilitator with Open Circle – a restorative justice organisation.  Katie has worked within feminist organisations since 2002, primarily in Domestic Violence sector – supporting women who have experienced violence and men who have caused harm. It was when working with men that she was introduced to narrative therapy and the next chapter of herstory began.


Kylie Dowse collaborates with First Nations men on Birpai Country on the east coast of Australia to richly externalise shame and make space for stories of accountability to be told and heard.

Thwarting shame: Feminist engagement in narrative groupwork with men recruited to patriarchal dominance in relationship by Kylie Dowse (she/her) [23:53]


In this interview, Nancy Gray describes some of the work of her team in Halifax, Canada, with men who’ve used violence. Drawing on the metaphor of ‘migration of identity’, they structure conversations to investigate alternative possibilities for masculinities and away from violence and domination. Nancy also shares how she interrogated the effects of not attending to race and socioeconomic privilege in work with African Canadian men and the unexpected community partnerships this interrogation made possible.

Responding to men’s violence by Nancy Gray (she/her)


The theme of partnership continues. Cheryl White chronicles some of the history in the field of narrative practice of partnerships across gender in addressing violence, and the innovative forms of practice this has generated.

Gender partnerships and men responding to men’s violence by Cheryl White (she/her) 


As Cheryl described, Alan Jenkins, Rob Hall and Michael White made significant contributions to the development of therapeutic practice with men addressing their use of violence. In this article, Michael White outlines assumptions underlying the work and a map for practice.

The responsibilities: Working with men who have perpetrated violence by Michael White (he/him) 


The work of addressing the use of violence is often couched in terms of ‘anger management’. But anger is often constructed through gendered discourses. Julie Sach describes how she and a group of women in Aoteoroa New Zealand got to know anger and its effects, witnessed past hurts, explored unique outcomes and stepped into responsibility, all while drawing on local cultural knowledges and language.

Conversations in groups with women about their experiences of using anger, abuse and violence by Julie Sach (she/her)


Finally, Jill Faulkner, the host of the next chapter, invites us to resist taking up binary constructions in work addressing violence (with people of all genders), and to think critically about the systems we may be working within.

Working with dignity: A narrative nonbinary approach of responding to cis-gendered women in prison who have used violence by Jill Faulkner (she/her)

Reflection questions

  • Which of your assumptions or understandings were challenged in this chapter?
  • Are there binaries that you’ve found yourself recruited into in your practice recently or in the past?
  • In this chapter, what practices were described for attending to and ensuring the safety of those experiencing violence?
  • Thinking back to Pat Durish’s article from Chapter 3 about addressing violence in LGBTIQ relationships, how might the ideas in this chapter apply in working with transgender or nonbinary folks addressing their use of violence?
  • Much of the work described in this chapter is collective and community based. Why do you think collective practice is such a valuable approach to addressing interpersonal violence? What creative ideas have been sparked for you of collective projects for addressing violence in your context?

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