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					                                                                    Ricardo Rodríguez Luna
                                                                    Antigona research group
                                                                   (University of Barcelona)

                               MUVI PROJECT

I would like to start by thanking the coordinating team of the project, the Italian team,
and both our Greek and Norwegian partners, for having counted with our research
group within this project. I also believe it is important to give my thanks to all those
persons who’ve made it possible for us to be here today in Bologna and deliver the
outcomes of a research which analyzes gender violence from a novel perspective: it
focuses on men who have committed violence against their (ex)partner.

As I have already mentioned, I will make a presentation of the outcomes and impact of
the MUVI project in the city of Barcelona. Nevertheless, before starting I would like to
remind you that within the Catalan context as far as the issue related to man’s violence
against a woman who is or used to be his partner, many legal aspects, alternative
measure programs and some social resources have been developed during the past
years as it is the case of the Support       Service for Men who have Committed
Ill-treatment (el servicio de atención a hombres que han maltratado -SAHM). At the
level of the civil society, women’s organizations have drawn the attention on the
necessity of undertaking measures specifically oriented to people who have committed
violence against women. Likewise, many men’s groups that have been set up during
the past years have been not only manifesting their interest for this issue, but also
questioning the “hegemonic masculinity” model.

It is within this context that the MUVI project was developed in the city of Barcelona.
All the information collected during the whole research has been analyzed based on
the orientation which is used in the case of the qualitative studies. Consequently,
given the nature of this perspective, our intention is in no way related to giving

generalizations on the approached issue. It is rather related to analyzing the significant
outcomes on the issue that has been under study.

Taking into account the time I count with for making this presentation, I will not be
able to make a thorough presentation of the set of outcomes and of the impact of the
project, therefore I will mention those aspects I consider as being the most relevant.
These elements will allow us to contextualize both the predominant speeches which
have been delivered during the research and the impact that the project has had in

I will make some comments on those aspects I consider as being the most relevant on
various issues such as some aspects that have stood out on this form of violence; its
causes both related to the man who commits it and to the woman who suffers from it;
its prevention and the programs and centers meant for the men who have committed
violence against their (ex) partner.

This would be, in general, some of the outcomes I thought about commenting. I will
now go forward to mentioning the impact that the MUVI project has had in the city of


1. Violence from men against partner. In this way

a). Violence is a process not an isolated fact

There was a significant discourse that considered that this kind of violence is not an
isolated fact, but a process, That is to say that it does not happen on just a single day,
and all of a sudden and aggressively. Violence against (ex) partners was regarded
as an abuse problem and the exercise of power by men against women.

In the same way, it was considered that the consequences from this kind of
violence on the minors and the family have been scarcely approached. In addition
to this, there has been little attention on the measures to take. There is no planning
about the way to promote men’s responsibilisation for their using violence.

b). Violence is not just a juridical-penal problem

It was significant the presence of a predominant discourse characterised by the
words of ideas from the interviewed persons that were very distant from terms as
greater punishment, longer prison sentences, or juridical reform. It is not so strange
to listen to these expressions from the discourse of part of the mass media and/or
political leaders. Of course, this does not mean that the seriousness of the studied
problem has been diminished or that it is thought that violence should not be
punished with prison sentence. All on the contrary, it was considered as the most
relevant set of problems. Moreover, when the fact of prison sentence arose, it was
not considered as the most proper response for the problem of violence against
women. In fact, prison was regarded as a kind of “medicine costing more than the

There was a consensus oriented towards the identification of impunity as justice
characteristic about this problem. It was said that juridical measures are too “slow”
and that fact is reflected in its very same inefficiency. In the same way, it was posed
that the problem of violence is considered as if it were just a juridical matter; and
there was a special reference about the starting stage in the juridical process; i.e.,
the denunciation of violent acts.


The representations about the fact that provokes violence from men against women
who are or have been their (ex) partner spin around two main aspects: socialization
and feelings and their expression.
a). The term “socialization” was used when trying to refer to those mechanisms
that allow the transference and learning of habits, attitudes and values. In such a
sense, there was a consensus about the idea that school education is just a part of
the people socialization process. This means that is not so possible to address the
responsibility of certain values just to schools, since the education obtained from
homes, families, and the mass media is as important as the school one, or even
more significant.

According to a significant discourse, socialization is one of the causes of violence
within couples because it is very difficult to get rid of habits, codes, and credence
that have been learnt. Nevertheless, especially because the values transmitted to
men and women are based upon gender-based differences and a “close and sexist

b). Low ability to deal with emotions

The poor ability to recognize, express and manage their feelings and emotions was
represented as a very important fact in violence situations. That’s to say, if men have a
scarce ability to recognize their feelings, it is very complicated for them to express what
becomes them scared, vulnerable or sad, as well as to express to other people their
sensations at sadness or fear moments. In this last sense, it was said that if some
emotion –such as jealousy and anger– are not identified or recognized, it is very easy
for men to put the blame on their partner for their very own sensations. Therefore,
feeling and emotion management takes a great importance.


During the research, it was significant the presence of a discourse that
represents violence as a part of those features that constitutes the fact of “being
a man”. It can be said that, within the imaginary of the interviewed people, a
man, especially the one who has used physical violence, was represented as a
person that does not ask for help (or seldom does it), since he does nor
recognize the use of violence and sometimes justifies it. He is a person who he
possesses a scarce ability to manage his emotions; and lastly, he was regarded
as a double-victimised person, both by socialization and his own behaviour too.

a). He, as a very vulnerable and doubly victimised subject

One of the main discourses argued that violence was not a good solution and a
fact to be proud about either, but they “do not know how to manage it
somewhat else, they do not know how to do it differently”. This point of view
situates men in the role of socialization victims, since they have not been
“taught”, for example, how to get in touch with their feelings or talk about their
intimacy. In addition to this, men were regarded as doubly victim:

a). From patriarchal society because under some circumstances, they are
blamed for their aggressiveness, and force and domination exercise. However,
at the same time, at other moments that kind of behaviour is well prized.
Therefore, there are spaces where men may find out that those power and
domination attitudes are considered legitimate.

b). From their own behaviour, because no matter that they have received some
kind of socialization, they did not put too much effort in questioning,
modifying or analysing what way the manliness models prevailing in our
society may be detrimental or beneficial for them. In this sense, men were
regarded as victims from their own behaviour because it was considered that
they are the only ones responsible for the way they use their resources, such as

force and aggressiveness; or the way they express or show their emotions and


There were three prevailing discourses or qualifiers around women who have
experienced violence by part of their (ex) partners: guilty, victim, and surviving. The
first point of view argued that women are in charge of transmitting that set of habits,
codes, beliefs, and values which are learnt by different means along the individual’s
lifetime. This point of view makes women responsible for socialization, and therefore
for that fact which had been considered as one of the causes of violence from men
against their (ex) partners.

The second point of view, in part a branch from the previous one, regarded women as
victims, not only from men who have used violence against them, but also from the
society that, given the gender-based differences, has socialized them on ideas and
beliefs about the way “good” women should behave.

On third, women were regarded as being survivors. In such a sense, it was remarked
the need, for example, to stop talking about them using masochist stereotypes. Instead
of that, it was underlined the importance of their courage, bravery and strength to
perform an introspection work question certain values or beliefs that were taught to
them; their ability to overcome violence experiences, etc


It is important to say that one of the prevailing discourses expressed that it is
very difficult to motivate a man in order to make him responsible for his own
violence. This situation was considered to involve, among other things some
review and self-analysis about several aspects about self-identity, such as

affections, emotions, desires, questioning about what means to be a man, the
way paternity has been exercised, etc. This kind of self-reflection, a very
complicated situation, was considered extremely troublesome for men.
When discussing some concrete matters, the interviewed people specially
referred to four backgrounds that are not independent among each other,
(formal and informal) education; the questioning of diverse social models; the
mass media; and the legislative sphere. Within each ambit, several measures
were posed. They refer to both to the individuals and the society. Therefore, the
suggested measures may be grouped under a social field and an individual


The hypothetical creation of centres for men who have used violence was one of
the most discussed topics along the fieldwork. In such a sense, and according to
the prevailing discourses, the creation of a centre in Catalonia requires both
general and specific conditions.

a). The Centre general conditions. Diverse conditions were mentioned as the
requirements for the centre, there should be public resources; i.e., the centre
should be publicly sponsored. The centres for men would be characterised by
counting on multidisciplinary professionals. That is to say that people from
different areas –psychology, social work, social education, law, sociology,
psychotherapy, and etc.– may work at them. Finally, with regard to the centres
nature, it must be said that the centres themselves and their programmes
should adopt a gender-based perspective.

The centre should be oriented to men in general. This mean to who have received a
sentence due to violence crimes against their (ex) partner. However, they should be
also devoted to those men who have used violence and are willing to recognize it, as
well as to who consider that violence is a problem and so they need some help.

Another important feature would be offering different kind of programmes: for
sentenced men, for men recognising that they need help and being interested in the set
of problems of violence against women. However, the assistance to the centres and
their activities should be strictly voluntary.

b). The service specific conditions. Once a man had attended the centre,
diverse specific conditions were underlined: a good evaluation of the cases was
outlined to be a very important fact. In order to get it, there is a need for the
performing of individual interviews on men attending there. Besides this, it was
remarked that at the beginning it would be very important to generate
coordination with other centres that carry out activities around gender-based

It was considered that the centres experiences, along with the international
achievements, would allow the establishment of quality standards that should
guide the professional activities at the centres.

It was remarked the importance of establishing risk parameters about the
possibility that a woman could experience violence or even the fact that a man
may use it. However, it was very difficult to determine how and under what
kind of circumstances such a risk could be detected. No matter this last fact, the
participants mentioned that it was necessary to define the kind of support that
men need, as well as the coordination with other services, the possibility of

being in touch with the victims in order to count on other source of information
about the violence events.

This would be, in general, some of the outcomes I thought about commenting. I will
now go forward to mentioning the impact that the MUVI project has had in the city of


The development of the project has had an impact on different levels and on different
fields in the city of Barcelona. Some of the most outstanding ones are the following:

1. The gender of the participating persons. One of the first aspects to be mentioned is
the fact that the majority of the persons who cooperated within the project phases
(such as interviews, discussion or training groups) were women. We ought to mention
that, generally speaking, the persons working within the support services related to
gender violence are women.

2. As far as the field of academic research is concerned, we should emphasize the
following two issues:

      The empirical evidence that the project has claimed as related to the existence of
       an important consent on issues such as:

             o   The importance of delivering services which are characterized by the
                 intervention of varied sciences;
             o   The lack of use of mediation in the cases of violence within the couple;
             o   Take into account man’s low capacity of emotion management as one of
                 the most important causes of man’s violence against his (ex)partner;

           o   The existence of a poor imaginary on the consequences that violence
               triggers for the men who commit it.

      At methodological level, the approach of the phase related to the training
       groups was of great importance to the development of the project. This has
       facilitated and motivated the cooperation of the persons in the interviews and
       in the discussion groups as it was important for these persons to count with the
       appropriate feedback based on the experience and the knowledge they shared
       with the project.

3. As far as the professionals’ training is concerned, the project has contributed as

      On the one hand, it contributed to the specific training by means of a scarcely
       approached aspect within the studies which analyze gender violence: the men
       who have committed violence against their (ex) partner. Some of the
       professionals participating in the training have been the following:

           o   Policemen working within the support units related to sexist violence;
           o   Penitentiary personnel in charge with the development of the program
               on “Family violence” within the Catalonia- based Penitentiary “Quatre
           o   Personnel within the Barcelona- based support service for men who
               have committed ill- treatment;
           o   Various professionals who work within services and /or associations in
               the city of Barcelona.

      On the other hand, the project has contributed to visibilising the existing
       necessity and demand for this type of training even if many of the participants
       work within specific services for men.

4. As far as the public in general is concerned, one of the main outcomes was the fact
that we could let people know (by means of various dissemination activities) the types
of actions that are undertaken in the city of Barcelona in the case of those men who
have committed violence against their (ex)partner, such as: the volunteering support
service for men who have committed ill- treatment; the alternative measure service;
and also men’s groups who tackle with violence from the point of view of masculinity.

5. It has also contributed to encouraging the set up of networks and/or exchanges
among professionals and/or entities:

      The project phases and activities have been, in some way, the contact or
       connecting point between the professionals and the associations which develop
       their activity in the field of support to men who have committed violence
       against their (ex) partner. In this sense, for example, we should emphasize the
       fact that this project has succeeded in strengthening the cooperation between
       our research group (Antigona within the Autonomous University of Barcelona)
       and TAMAIA association (women’s association against violence). This
       collaboration consists in organizing various joint “workshops on violence
       prevention within the young couple” in various suburbs in Barcelona.

6. As far as the dissemination activities are concerned, during the development of the
project, the following events were organized in the city of Barcelona in order to
disseminate the outcomes of the research:

      Organizing the conferences during March 2008 that have counted not only with
       the participation of the MUVI project partners, but also with the participation of
       professionals, women’s and men’s associations and services from the city of
      Participating to a workshop in June 2008 within the International Institute of
       Legal Sociology (IILS), in the Basque Country;

      Future publishing of the research outcomes which will be edited in a book in

Ending up, I would like to make a final reflection comment on one of the aspects that
has drawn my attention during the development of the project: the issue related to
man being held responsible for the violence he has committed against his (ex) partner.

III. Final Consideration

At first, it is important to outline the need to develop measures specifically
oriented to men who have used the mentioned violence. However, these
measures should be directed to men, not only with regard to their condition of
“active subjects” of a crime, but also as being “men”. This means that it is
necessary to insist on the gender as an important variable around the studied
kind of violence, as well as on strategies, programmes or measures devoted to
the avoidance or prevention of such set of problems. The “threat” that Penal
Law may suppose, as a great part of the criminological discourse has expressed,
will hardly result in prevention actions, and it will not produce a gender
sensitisation effect either. In this sense, the performed fieldwork also allows us
to perceive the prevailing condition of a discourse, which is convinced that
Penal Law could do just a little in front of violence within couples.

On second, it is necessary to wonder about the contents and the ways that up to
the present were intended when trying to sensitise about and/or “teach”
gender to men. In general and among other things, socialization highly
contributes to enhance men and women’s perception about the dimension of
gender-based differences in daily (professional, familiar, partner, social, etc.)
life. Besides this, it is important to take into account the impact that men and
women’s histories of violence have been suffering from, as a collective group.

To conscientise people about these kind of situations has been a task essentially
assumed by women, who have also found a greater predisposition to do it in
the feminine collectives. It may be probably harder to employ the same
strategies for men due to the mentioned gender-based differences.

On third, it is important to underline that being responsible for violence has, at
least, a double dimension. On the one hand, an individual sphere. Along the
fieldwork, there were interesting references about badly managed affective
relationships, low self-esteem, difficulty in managing emotions, intimacy, etc.
On the other hand, a social dimension. During the performed empiric work, the
social dimension was related to certain ideas, such as socialisation,
discrimination, power abuse, asymmetry in relationships, oppression, control,
domination, etc. This way, from the results of this research it may be
understood that there are social and individual elements influencing the
assumption of the mentioned responsibilisation.

The strategies devoted to prevent violence within couples should at least
develop actions in both the individual and the social. These strategies ought to
link both dimensions to each other. This link is especially important when
taking into account that gender-based violence and that one from men to
women that are (or have been) their partners are not only an individual
problem but also a social issue. In this sense, it is necessary to wonder about
how the current measures directed to prevent and promote men’s
responsibilization for their own violence consider the social dimension and its
links with the individual men’s background. This is not a minor matter,
especially if we notice that in several countries the main strategies on this set of
problems come from de juridical-penal area or consist of performing
programmes that mainly emphasise de subject’s behavioural dimension as well
as his affective-emotional features.

In the fourth place, there should be expressed some comments about the
programmes for men who have used violence, since these programmes present
concepts about the gender theory and, in this sense, they try to conscientise
around the historical situation of social discrimination that women have been
experiencing since a long time ago. However, there is a great deal to do in the
training of professionals who generate and/or give those programmes. In
addition to this, the mentioned professionals are not questioned for the form
that they approach the issue. This means that it is accepted that the way in
which men have been “educated” about gender and/or the sensitisation about
the problem is the proper form. Under this context, as it has been expressed
before, it is important to search for new ways of teaching gender “in
masculine”; i.e.: a way specifically thought for men.

  Responsibilisation for violence is one of the key elements in the programmes,
courses or workshops given for men who have used violence against their (ex)
partners. However, everything seems to indicate that such resposibilisation has
a long way to go before being assumed by men. In this context, it can be said
that we knew about men who had used violence because they were punished or
sentenced by the Penal Justice and not because they had recognised their faults
and/or asked for help due to their behaviour.

Unfortunately, men are just starting to show some light signals of recognising
and being responsible for their violence. It is a very serious fact that
responsibilisation for violence does not come from the very same individual,
but from his background, generally his wife, family or friends. Undoubtedly,
responsibilisation is elementary, independently if there are inner or outer

However, since violence against partners is a social problem, it is necessary to
wonder about the way in which programmes for men, measures and public

strategies link the individual recognition of violence not only to the social
dimension but also to the political one.

Men, as a collective, are the main actors of the use of violence and there is just a
recent juridical response for that. However, it seems that for men this situation
is not related to socio-political circumstances.

The historical position that men, as a collective, have taken in the public and
private fields have prevented them from realising about the used violence and
its effects. Besides this fact, men lack something that could be compared to
feminist genealogy; in any case, men’s genealogy has privileged power and
domination, as well as men’s values and ways of being that ere necessary to be
questioned. In a great part, this should be a collective socio-political obligation for
men. Definitely, this is a complicated and long-term task, so we should pay
attention to and have some benefits from the social history of some social
movements, such as feminism, which have cleared out a lot of ideas not only
about the way to equality, but of differences too.

Along the fieldwork, it was remarked the importance of promoting, among
other facts, emotional aspects from our personalities, as well as self-
responsibilisation for our violence. Nevertheless, it is also considered important
to encourage certain men’s collective duties as members of the society.


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