Shortage of crisis centres for men

Access to help fast is vital for men who want to stop abusing their wives and girlfriends. But there are only eleven such crisis centres in Sweden, and none north of Gävle. That fact was highlighted today at a conference in Uppsala.

It is now established that men who use violence against close family members constitute a large and expensive social problem. Resources are nevertheless insufficient to give men the treatment they need to change their behaviour.

“There are no crisis centres for men in most Swedish local authority areas. And those that do exist often do so on minimal financial resources,” said Göran Lindén to TT news agency.

He’s one of two national co-ordinators who were given 400 000 kronor by the government earlier this year and charged with shoring up the existing crisis centres and trying to start new ones. As a part of the initiative, two help organisations, Riksorganisationen professionella kriscentra för män and Mansmottagningen mot våld, arranged a conference in Uppsala for therapists and personnel from the criminal justice system.

Equality minister, Jens Orback announced prior to the conference that the government had put aside 3m kronor in its spring budget for male crisis centres. But that figure did not impress therapists.

“The crisis centre in Uppsala alone costs 4m kronor a year to run,” said Hans Åberg, one of that centre’s representatives.

He asked rhetorically whether anything can be done about men’s violence against women. International studies show that 80-90% of men who receive treatment stop their violent behaviour. No Swedish studies have yet been carried out. Men who voluntarily go to the crisis centres do so either out of despair for what they’ve done, or because their partners have demanded it.

Denial of having done anything wrong is most common amongst men who have been convicted of abuse. Such men are harder to treat, but can be offered help within the prison service.

The basis of the treatment is getting the men to take responsibility for their actions. Therapy can take between one hour and twelve months, according to Göran Lindén.

Marius Råkil has worked for 18 years with violent men for the Norwegian organisation Alternativ till Vold.

“The strongest motivating factor for men to stop their violence is to get them to realise that behaving violently is incompatible with being a parent. The first question we must ask is: ‘How do the children feel?'” said Råkil.