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Working with Men to End Violence Against Women: A Qualitative Exploration.

Hernandez-Martinez, Martha.

Despite the number of programs that exist to address intimate partner violence (IPV), there is little consensus about which methods and strategies are the most effective. However, experience has shown that programs are more successful if they are based on methodologies that are flexible enough to take into account both the personal experience of program participants and their culture background. To achieve this flexibility, program designers need to draw on ideas and methods from a variety of different discipline including psychology, counseling, social service, criminal justice and behavioral health, and community development. Most of the published literature on IPV interventions with men includes intervention programs run by social services, therapeutic, and criminal justice agencies (Saunders, 2008). These programs are often delivered by a variety of multi-service agencies including individual therapists and service oriented organizations and in very few cases, Latin@ community based organizations.

Although the interest and efforts in the area of domestic violence prevention has increased enormously in the past decade, the majority of the resources and tools available continue to be in the area of intervention. In addition, most of the literature regarding current intervention and prevention programs with men is based on mainstream models with few articles including community based interventions specific for Latino community members. In an effort to address the issue, Casa de Esperanza with the support of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs from the University of Minnesota conducted a study with the aim to provide the necessary information to develop a toolkit to engage Latino men in efforts to prevent domestic violence.

The study has two phases, the first phase consist in a literature review that summarize the most commonly used theories and methods of intervention and prevention on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) programs and considers the evidence for their efficacy with Latino men. The second phase consists in the analyses of discussions from two separate focus groups (one group of men and one group of women) and four individual interviews with men conducted in November, 2012 all members of the Latin@ community from St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Focus groups and interviews were guided by nine open-ended questions (see Appendix A). Five men participated in the men’s group. Four women participated in the women’s group. Four men participated in one-on-one interviews. Three of the men were bilingual speakers, the rest, including all of the women, were monolingual Spanish speakers. Focus groups lasted from two to two-and-a-half hours and interviews were one hour long.

Findings emerging from this study include:

  • Two main themes -power and leadership- and four sub-themes -education, cultural experiences (which were viewed as aspects of power), involvement, and services (which were viewed as aspects of leadership) - emerged from the analysis of the data.
  • In terms of information about prevention programs men prefer to receive that information from other men.
  • In terms of involvement both men and women’s’ groups coincide with the idea that getting the family involve should the strategy to follow.
  • In the area of community engagement, both groups agree that efforts need to be led by leaders from the community.

The findings in this study have made it clear that education and culture will dictate the direction in which efforts could be pursued in order to change power dynamics. It was evident that both groups agreed that men and women can learn to see and understand gender roles in a different manner, therefore, changing violent behavior towards women.

It is clear that Casa de Esperanza is leading this effort and already taking the necessary steps to meet the challenges of promoting healthy relationship with the community. However, there are some steps that could be beneficial for the organization:

Identifying the target group   Valente and Pumpuang (2007) suggest that opinion leaders are people who influence the opinions, attitudes, beliefs, motivations, and behaviors of others. Therefore opinion leaders have the ability to make behavior change acceptable with the local culture and with the organization of the community and they are of the same sex of the target population. This may be a strategy that can be adopted by Casa de Esperanza and extended to their work with men.

Methods for education campaigns to get men involved   Methods for education campaigns can be grouped in two categories – interpersonal in which the emphasis is on working directly with individuals or small groups, and -mass media in which the emphasis is disseminating information using radio, blogs, television, newspapers.

Interpersonal approach   One of the most significant findings of this study was that men preferred to talk with other men or get information from a man about issues such as domestic violence. Such preference was also affirmed by the female participants. Providing opportunities and spaces to talk with other men may be one way in which men would be encourage to get involve.

Mass media   Another significant finding was that participants thought that involving families was a vital component; therefore, campaign messages should be designed and targeted at families instead of individual men or women.

Community engagement   Coordinate meetings with other organizations to discuss the findings of the study and potential impact of the tool in their work. At the same time, Casa de Esperanza needs to be engaged in conversations with potential partners including organizations, community leaders, and faith-based organizations about the work that is currently conducted with Latino men in the metro area. In addition, some of the answers suggested that there is a level of confusion among the participants about the different between which constitute an intervention programs and what it is a prevention program. Future campaigns efforts should make sure that distinctions are clear and that the community is able to obtain both services.

Finally, there is a need for Casa de Esperanza to expand its community based research agenda to include areas such: men’s fathering/parenting styles, men’s relationships with their children, and men’s relationships with their wives. This study is a first step on a number of efforts that will require engage and mobilize Latino men and the community, however, I think that it is a step in the right direction.

Publication date: 
Conducted on behalf of Casa de Esperanza. Supported by the Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program, a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
31 pp.
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