Engaging Men Across the Violence Prevention Continuum

An Exploratory Study


  • Brian Hansen
  • Lana Wells Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary
  • Caroline Claussen University of Calgary




Violence prevention, men and masculinity, social work training, intimate partner violence


Men have a role to play in the prevention of violence against women; however, there is increasing awareness that the social service sector has failed to adequately engage men in violence prevention programming and advocacy. This study used semi-structured interviews to explore the challenges that a sample of Canadian violence prevention practitioners and organizations face in engaging men in preventing violence and generating practice recommendations for what is needed to better equip practitioners. At an organizational level, findings indicate that more capacity-building around emerging research, strategies, and tools in working with and engaging men in the prevention of violence is required. Challenges around recruiting male staff, in what is primarily considered a female-dominated profession, were also noted. Practitioners also discussed the role of masculine gender norms as barriers to men’s help-seeking and engagement in violence prevention advocacy. Recommendations include expanding social work curriculum and training to include information and resources on working with men, as well as increased research on best and promising practices to support organizations and practitioners in their engagement efforts.

Author Biographies

Brian Hansen

Brian Hansen is a community-based researcher interested in developing and evaluating health and social service interventions for vulnerable and underserved populations. He is currently the Evaluation Lead for Calgary Zone Primary Care Networks.

Lana Wells, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary

Lana Wells is the Brenda Strafford Chair in the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Canada. She is currently leading Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence (www.preventdomesticviolence.ca).

Caroline Claussen, University of Calgary

Caroline Claussen is a post-doctoral fellow in the Faculty of Arts, Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary. 


Arias, E., Arce, R., & Vilarino, M. (2013). Batterer intervention programmes: A meta-analytic review of effectiveness. Psychosocial Intervention, 22, 153-160. https://doi.org/10.5093/in2013a18

Babcock, J. C., Green, C. E., & Robie, C. (2004). Does batterers’ treatment work? A meta-analytic review of domestic violence treatment. Clinical Psychology Review, 23, 1023-1053. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2002.07.001

Baum, N. (2016). The unheard gender: The neglect of men as social work clients, British Journal of Social Work, 46, 1463-1471. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcv074

Bellamy, J. L. (2009). A national study of male involvement among families in contact with the child welfare system. Child Maltreatment, 14(3), 255-262. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077559508326288

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

Buston, K. (2018). Recruiting, retaining and engaging men in social interventions: Lesson for implementation focusing on a prison-based parenting intervention for young incarcerated fathers. Child Care in Practice, 24(2), 164-180. https://doi.org/10.1080/13575279.2017.1420034

Carlson, J., Casey, E., Edleson, J. L., Tolman, R. M., Neugat, T. B., & Kimball, E. (2015). Strategies to engage men and boys in violence prevention: A global organizational perspective. Violence Against Women, 21(11), 1406-1425. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801215594888

Carter, L. S. (2010). Batterer intervention: Doing the work and measuring the progress. Family Violence Prevention Fund. http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/Children_and_Families/Batterer%20Intervention%20Meeting%20Report.pdf

Casey, E. (2010). Strategies for engaging men as anti-violence allies: Implications for ally movements. Advances in Social Work, 11(2), 267-282. https://doi.org/10.18060/580

Casey, E., Carlson, J., Fraguela-Rios, C., Kimball, E., Neugat, T. B., Tolman, R. M., & Edleson, J. L. (2013). Contexts, challenges and tensions in global efforts to engage men in the prevention of violence against women: An ecological analysis. Men and Masculinities, 16(2), 228-251. https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184x12472336

Casey, E., Carlson, J., Two Bulls, S., & Yager, A. (2018). Gender transformative approaches to engaging men in gender-based violence prevention: A review and conceptual model. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 19(2), 231-246. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838016650191

Cheung, M., Leung, P., & Tsui, V. (2009). Asian male domestic violence victims: Services exclusive for men. Journal of Family Violence, 24, 447-462. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-009-9240-9

Chovanec, M. G. (2012). Examining engagement of men in a domestic abuse program from three perspectives: An exploratory multimethod study, Social Work with Groups, 35(4), 362-378. https://doi.org/10.1080/01609513.2012.669351

Donovan, C., & Griffiths, S. (2015). Domestic violence and voluntary perpetrator programmes: Engaging men in the pre-commencement phase. British Journal of Social Work, 45, 1155-1171. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bct182

Douglas, E. M., & Hines, D. A. (2011). The help-seeking experience of men who sustain intimate partner violence: An overlooked population and implications for practice. Journal of Family Violence, 26, 473-485. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-011-9382-4

Dozois, E., Wells, L., Exner-Cortens, D., & Esina, E. (2016). No man left behind: How and why to include fathers in government-funded parenting strategies. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary, Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence. https://prism.ucalgary.ca/bitstream/handle/1880/51884/R30_Shift_2016_How_and_Why_to_Include_Fathers_in_Government-Funded_Parenting_Strategies.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Drapeau, A., Boyer, R., & Lesage, A. (2009). The influence of social anchorage on the gender difference in the use of mental health services. The Journal of Behavioural Health Services & Research, 36(3), 372-384. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11414-009-9168-0

Elkins, J., Crawford, K., & Briggs, H. E. (2017). Male survivors of sexual abuse: Becoming gender-responsive and trauma-informed. Advances in Social Work, 18(1), 116-130. https://doi.org/10.18060/21301

Feder, L., & Wilson, D. B. (2005). A meta-analytic review of court-mandated batterer intervention programs: Can courts affect abusers’ behaviour? Journal of Experimental Criminology, 1, 239-262. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-005-1179-0

Flood, M. (2019). Engaging men and boys in violence prevention. Palgrave Macmillan.

Gondolf, E. W. (2012). The future of batterer programs: Reassessing evidence-based practice. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Harvey, A., Garcia-Moreno, C., & Butchart, A. (2007). Primary prevention of intimate-partner violence and sexual violence: Background paper for WHO expert meeting May 2-3. Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/violence/IPV-SV.pdf

Hogan, K. F., Hegarty, J. R., Ward, T., & Dodd, L. J. (2012). Counsellors’ experiences of working with male victims of female-perpetrated domestic abuse. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 12(1), 44-52. https://doi.org/10.1080/14733145.2011.630479

Jewkes, R. K., Flood, M. G., & Lang, J. (2015). From work with men and boys to changes of social norms and reduction of inequities in gender relations: A conceptual shift in prevention of violence against women and girls. The Lancet, 385(9977), 1580-1589. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(14)61683-4

Katz, J. (1995). Reconstructing masculinity in the locker room: The Mentors in Violence Prevention project. Harvard Educational Review, 65(2), 163-175. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.65.2.55533188520136u1

Kaufman, M. (2001). Building a movement of men working to end violence against women. Development, 44, 9-14. https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.development.1110254

Kosberg, J. I. (2002). Heterosexual males: A group forgotten by the profession of social work. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 29(3), 51-70.

Lehmann, P., & Simmons, C. A. (2009). The state of batterer intervention programs: An analytical discussion. In P. Lehmann & C. A. Simmons (Eds.), Strengths-based batterer intervention: A new paradigm in ending family violence (pp. 3-37). Springer.

Levant, R. F., Rogers, B. K., Cruickshank, B., Rankin, T. J., Kurtz, B. A., Rummell, C. M., Williams, C. M., & Colbow, A. J. (2012). Exploratory factor analysis and construct validity of the Male Role Norms Inventory-Adolescent-revised (MRNI-A-r). Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 13(4), 354-366. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029102

Machado, A., Santos, A., Graham-Kevan, M., & Matos, M. (2017). Exploring help-seeking experiences of male victims of female perpetrators of IPV. Journal of Family Violence, 32, 513-523. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-016-9853-8

Messing, J. T., Ward-Lasher, A., Thaller, J., & Bagwell-Grey, M. E. (2015). The state of intimate partner violence intervention: Progress and continuing challenges. Social Work, 60(4), 305-313. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/swv027

Meyer, S. J. (2019). The use of social services by older males. Journal of Social Work, 19(4), 450-467. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468017318757358

Minerson, T., Carolo, H., Dinner, T., & Jones, C. (2011). Issue brief: Engaging men and boys to reduce and prevent gender-based violence. Status of Women Canada. https://www.whiteribbon.ca/uploads/1/1/3/2/113222347/wrc_swc_issuebrief.pdf

Namey, E., Guest, G., Thairu, L., & Johnson, L. (2008). Data reduction techniques for large qualitative data sets. In G. Guest, & K. M. MacQueen (Eds.), Handbook for team-based qualitative research (pp. 137-161). AltaMira Press.

Ontario Nonprofit Network. (2018). Decent work for women: A literature review of women working in Ontario’s nonprofit sector. Status of Women Canada. https://theonn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Decent-work-for-Women-Literature-Review-March-2018.pdf

Pfitzner, N., Humphreys, C., & Hegarty, K. (2017). Research review: Engaging men: a multi-model to support father engagement. Child and Family Social Work, 22, 537-547. https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12250

Saldana, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Sage.

Salsberg, E., Quigley, L., Mehfoud, N., Aquaviva, K., Wyche, K., & Sliwa, S. (2017). Profile of the social work workforce. George Washington University Health Workforce Institute. https://hsrc.himmelfarb.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=sphhs_policy_workforce_facpubs

Scourfield, J., Tolman, R., Maxwell, N., Holland, S., Bullock, A., & Sloan, L. (2012). Results of a training course for social workers on engaging fathers in child protection. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 1425-1432. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.03.022

Shafer, K., & Wendt, D. (2015). Men’s mental health: A call to social workers. Social Work, 60(2), 105-112. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/swu061

Stuart, R. B. (2005). Treatment for partner abuse: Time for a paradigm shift. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36, 254-263. https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7028.36.3.254

Stuart, G. L., Temple, J. R., & Moore, T. M. (2007). Improving batterer intervention programs through theory-based research. Journal of American Medical Association, 298(5), 560-562. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.298.5.560

Tsui, V. (2014). Male victims of intimate partner abuse: Use and helpfulness of services. Social Work, 59(2), 121-130. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/swu007

Tsui, V., Cheung, M., & Leung, P. (2010). Help-seeking among male victims of partner abuse: Men’s hard times. Journal of Community Psychology, 38(6), 769-780. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.20394

Wells, L., Dozois, E., Exner-Cortens, D., Cooper, M., Esina, E., Froese, K., & Boutillier, S. (2015). Men and boys violence prevention project: Informing a Government of Alberta action plan to engage men and boys to stop violence against women. The University of Calgary, Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence. https://preventdomesticviolence.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/GOAEngagingMenandBoysInAlbertaDec2015.pdf

Wells, L., & Fortheringham, S. (2021). A global review of violence prevention plans: Where are the men and boys? International Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872820963430

Wolfe, D. A., & Jaffe, P. G. (1999). Emerging strategies in the prevention of domestic violence. Future of Children, 9(3), 133-144. https://doi.org/10.2307/1602787

Author note: Address correspondence to Caroline Claussen, Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. Email ccclauss@ucalgary.ca