Prospects for Meditation as an Intervention for Domestic Violence Batterers
In this paper I explore how and if meditation may be used as a tool of
transforming domestic violence batterers (people who use violence and coercion
with intimates), into peaceful, non-violent individuals. Previous studies on the
effectiveness of Vipassana and Transcendental meditation used in prisons
indicate that meditation has improved the subjective well being and quality of
life of inmates through such determinants as reductions in the rate of recidivism,
criminal propensity, and feelings of depression and helplessness. Though
batterers are often not imprisoned for the crime of domestic violence, many
batterers have similar issues as violent inmates, and recidivism is one of the
greatest challenges to batterers intervention programs.
Since violence is learned, it is necessary to examine how the brain
functions in order to change thought patterns and learned reactions. Using
research from neuroscientists and quantum physicists, I explore how we become
addicted to certain emotional responses, and how meditation practices
physically change the brain.
In addition, since domestic violence is a complex and widespread social
ill, it is important to fully understand its many dimensions in order to properly
treat it. Therefore, I explore gender construction, violence and masculinity, and
how the patriarchal society creates power imbalances that perpetuate violence
against women. I conclude the domestic violence section by reviewing current
approaches to ending violent behavior in batterers, such as batterer intervention
and anger management programs.
The intention of my research is to see if individuals working in the
domestic violence field (with batterers and victims), as well as prison meditation
teachers, think that a) meditation would be an effective method of transforming
batterers, b) if it needs to be complemented with additional approaches, and c) if
there are any obstacles that might inhibit the effectiveness of meditation. After
analyzing the findings, I propose an alternative model for batterers intervention
programs which includes meditation as a guiding practice for transformation.