Gender has a significant impact on our lives and is an important part of our personality and identity. Thus, men face crises and problems that are specific only to them. They often wait too long to seek help and usually see their problems as individual failures rather than social ones. When it comes to violence, there is also a strong gender-specific characteristic. In general, men appear more often as perpetrators of violence. In partnerships and relationships, mostly women are affected by violence. In public, however, men are often victims of violence by other men.
Men’s support programs and theories of men and masculinity emerged in the 1980s as a reaction and as a consequence of women’s support programs. Although at the beginning many social workers and psychologists did not consider the provision of help and support to men as serious and there was a lot of resistance, nevertheless, the experiences so far in working and running services for help and support for men confirm that men need help and support not only with violent behaviour, but also with work relationships, isolation, partner relationships, fatherhood, drug use/addiction, aggression and sexuality. More importantly, they need to hear and learn that it’s normal for them to have problems and that it’s important to ask for and get the help and support they need when they need it.
Taking this into consideration, as well as the fact that the establishment of a specialized support and counseling center is a relatively new concept in the field of social work, we developed a Concept on Men’s Counselling and Support Centers that could be a starting point for the establishment of quality and accessible counseling and therapy programs for men and boys. Relying on the main principles of prevention in working with men and perpetrators of violence taken from national and international experiences, it provides initial guidelines for the needs, possibilities and ways of working in the centers for support and counseling of men, which are one of the strategies in comprehensive prevention of violence against women and of gender-based violence in the Republic of North Macedonia.
Establishing such a concept for counseling men should enable a more active involvement of men in preventing violence against women, but also in reducing violent behavior and repetition of the crime among perpetrators of violence and perpetrators of sexual abuse in the future.
The concept was prepared within the framework of the project “Establishment of multi-professional prevention of gender-based violence, Victim-Safety Oriented Work with Perpetrators and Men’s Counseling in North Macedonia” supported by the Association for Men’s and Gender Issues Styria, Graz, Austria (Verein für Männer-und GeschlechterthemenSteiermark) with financial support from the Austrian Federal Ministry ofSocial Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection.