May 23, 2019

Can Domestic Abusers Be "Cured?"

“In a drab college classroom in Oakland, California, about a dozen men sit in a half-circle of desks, arranged in order of who’s been coming here the longest. The guy with 21 weeks under his belt sits farthest from the door while the guys with more than 40 weeks sit closest to it.

“I thought it was your last week?” asks a man with about 30 weeks.

“Nah, I decided to keep going,” responds one with 42 weeks. “I went too far to quit now.”

Right at 6:30 p.m., the group’s most senior member, 46 weeks, walks in. Everyone calls out his name. Fist bumps follow.

Joshua Ewing arrives shortly afterward. A 34-year-old covered in prison tattoos, Ewing first came to this classroom more than three years ago after he was convicted of punching and choking his girlfriend. A judge sentenced him to probation and required him to go to a batterer intervention program. Today Ewing says he’s not the man he used to be, thanks to Men Creating Peace (MCP), a nonprofit certified by Alameda County’s probation office. Though he graduated from the program about two years ago, he still regularly comes to meetings and has facilitated sessions for the men, most of whom are here by court order stemming from domestic abuse charges. “I like to show them that it’s possible to change,” he says.”

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