Author|: Paul Hegstrom, PhD.
Paul Hegstrom writes about anger from the voice of experience. He was a violent, angry man and an abuser. It wasn’t until he entered a treatment program in order to avoid an attempted murder charge that Hegstrom began to admit that he had a problem.
Since that time, Paul Hegstrom has taken responsibility for his behavior and changed it. He has reconciled with and remarried his wife, Judy, and they have reparented their children, preventing the cycle of abuse from affecting the next generation. He has earned a PhD in marriage and family therapy, and he and Judy have established Life Skills International, a program that helps other families affected by abuse.
Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them is an excellent, practical handbook for people who work with families affected by violence. Hegstrom explains why men abuse and how the cycle of violence is perpetuated. He insists that people are responsible for their behavior, but points out that they are unable to change that behavior until they understand why they do what they do.
Hegstrom says that all forms of abuse are an attempt to attain and maintain power and control. He discusses the scope and range of abuse, which includes isolation, economic deprivation, threats and hostile humor, as well as physical violence. He talks about how shame, pain and anger feed upon each other, perpetuating the cycle of abuse and keeping both parties stuck in it. Both parties have to look at the sources of shame to begin the healing process, though each will move out of shame in a different way. He says, “For the batterer, containment (taking responsibility and initiative to stop the behavior) is primary….For the victim, safety is primary (removing herself from the situation, using the resources of the community such as marital separation and counsel, shelter, order of protection, law enforcement).”
Next, Hegstrom talks about what healthy relationships look like and how to build them. Most violent families cannot differentiate between a healthy and harmful relationship and few have the knowledge or resources to build healthy relationships. The last section of the book is a list of questions and answers, tips and pointers for victims, batterers, churches and those who help them.
This is an important book, especially for churches who want to help violent families. It clearly explains the extent of the problem, how to identify it and how to help violent families. I would have liked to learn more about the victims of violence—how they are affected by past traumas and how the abuse changes them and keeps them trapped in a potentially lethal cycle. In addition, Hegstrom does not address female batterers with male victims or same-sex domestic violence. Nonetheless, Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them is an outstanding resource for anybody who wants to understand domestic violence.
The above review was contributed by: Penny Watkins, Free Lance Writer, Mother, Grandmother, and Cat Lady: CLICK HERE to read more of Penny's Reviews.