Teina (left) and Loni (right) facilitate the family violence programme.

Becoming better men

Men referred to Iosis’s family violence programme arrive scared, overwhelmed, angry and emotional. But those who complete it are amazed at what they learn.  

Every Friday, Iosis facilitators Teina and Loni meet with men who have had protection orders made against them by their partners. None of the men want to be in the programme initially, so it is important they do not feel judged.

“We talk to them first about their rights as respondents,” says Teina. “The idea is that they feel comfortable to share their story and are able to unload. If you are judgmental, it’s going to be a battle. We want to support them properly through this process, and give them tools that will help them stay out of trouble.”

A detailed assessment is made, which can last four to five hours over two sessions. The men then either go into a group programme or have one-on-one sessions. Either way, the programme comprises 12 two-hour sessions. The group situation does not suit all men but does have distinct advantages.

“Often someone will come with a question about something and we open it up for everyone in the group to give their whakaaro [opinion]. We allow them to tell the story and tautoko [support] each other. When you hear someone else’s journey, it helps you. Then we inject content relative to what they are trying to offload or resolve that day,” says Loni.

When men complete the course, common feedback is that they now see its value. They have learnt skills they can apply in their relationships and that will help them become better versions of themselves.

“Some say this programme should be in intermediate or high school. Then when young men become  partners or fathers, they already have that understanding,” says Loni.

“If we can stop the violence with the father, hopefully we can stop it continuing on down the generations. That’s the real value of it,” says Teina.