Importance of Culture

  • Cultures differ in their values and beliefs about gender roles and intimate relationships. Working with clients from cultures different from ones own always involves a process of learning about the norms, values, and beliefs of the other cultural group.
  • It is very helpful to have a colleague or consultant who is part of or very familiar with the other culture.
  • Cultural difference is not an excuse for physical battering or psychological abuse, which do not correspond with any culture's ideals for intimate relationships.
  • While domestic violence is apparently somewhat more prevalent in lower socio-economic groups, there is no evidence that race itself is a factor. Men of color and of low socio-economic status are more likely than men who are wealthier and white to be arrested, incarcerated, and/or referred to intervention programs for batterers. This reflects bias in the criminal justice system, as well as differential access to resources on the part of partners.
  • Sensitivity to historical and societal oppression must be part of effective work with men mandated for batterer treatment. This is particularly important if the social worker is white. Men mandated for batterer treatment are not voluntary clients, and building trust can be challenging.