Context: When working with men, it is important to challenge perceptions of hopelessness and the victim worldview. Men’s behaviour is often more dangerous (towards themselves or others) when these perspectives substantially exist. These perspectives are best challenged by recognising the importance of making choices and valuing our response, even if it means being reasonable in an unreasonable situation.
When to use: This exercise is used when practitioners work with men to deepen their understanding about situations and their own victim or survivor response.
Conducting the exercise: Using the Life Story Cards for Men (free download from www.groupworksolutions.com.au) ask the men to select a card that reminds them of a time in their life where they felt helpless or a victim to life’s circumstances (not necessarily a victim to violence).
Then select a card that presents them as a survivor, where they stood against a great difficulty, even if it was only a small but significant response. Acknowledge the challenge of being a reasonable man in an unreasonable situation. In pairs, ask them to discuss what they learnt from recalling these two different stories.
In both stories, ask how do you want to be seen?
In both stories, what was a life preserving response that they used?
What impact did it have on others around them?
What have they learnt about being a survivor?
Who did they learn these survivor skills from?
How do they help their children to learn survivor skills?