Last year I have been working as the head of Alternative Therapy at Voces Libres Foundation, in the frame of the “Men of Peace” Project. This involves conducting therapy group to men who have judicial order for have been exercised violence to someone in their families.
The program involves the coordination of a three psychologists team who implement a therapeutic process with a framework from Classical Psychology and Alternative Therapies. This framework responds to the three great principles that govern the therapeutic relationship: respect, honesty and confidentiality.
And the phases or stages of that therapeutic process are the exploration / transition, work / consolidation and completion of the process. This process lasts between 12 to 18 sessions or its equivalent to three or four and a half months.
The scale of violence in interpersonal and family relationships has been growing over time, or perhaps, it has simply become visible with the fulfillment of Law 348 that aims to protect women since its enactment in 2013.
Following data recorded by the Women’s Observatory, Women’s Coordinator, at the national level, sexual offenses account for the highest number of complaints. According to a report from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, only in 2017 were reported 4,708 such complaints, which represent 15% of the total causes (30,351) filed that year in the framework of that rule. In this sense, Cochabamba registered 797 cases.
Thus, there is a population group that is in the prisons of Cochabamba for having exercised violence, in any of its manifestations and following the typology that the Law registers, being 17 types of violence contemplated, towards a member of the family.
The “Men of Peace” program comes to accompany these processes and to offer support to these men in four prisons in the city of Cochabamba; Quillacollo, Sacaba, San Sebastián and San Antonio.
It is a new project that pays attention to a marginal group in the social as well as in the family environment. The Foundation aim to give tools for their personal growth and the support in the psychological and transpersonal areas. The project is the tool to the rehabilitation processes of these men who, in some way, allow them to face life without exercise power by violance.
Prison is not an easy way to work, nor to going on with the groups. It is a place with its own laws and men came with the motivation to lighten their sentence and, if it is not met, they leave the groups. Delegates of the prison support the groups with their presence and also bringing the people.
The state in which they arrive at the jail is of helplessness and shame, also anger. Bolivian prisons do not discriminate for crimes or offenses, so everyone is together. They have gone from being in a family routine to an area where they have to try to work in order to cover their needs as well as to continue with the family responsibilities abroad. The level of stress of these men increases considerably and the therapeutic group provides them with a contention space. Finally, they are all mirrors and can find lessons in the experiences of each other. It is usual to find them quiet, frightened, and in a state of recapitulation of the circumstances, behaviors and thoughts that have generated the situation. They are already beginning to be open after 3 – 4 sessions. The jail is a subversive place and they really begin to value their life. The emotions that come to the surface are mostly of regret, guilt and a lot of sadness for being away from their sons and daughters as well as other relatives.
The program aim to generate in men the assumption of the consequences of their actions, so it is required to look inside and stop situations and destructive relationships. That should be change by patterns of honesty and growth.
Mitakuye Oyasin, por todas mis relaciones!