The 12 Men Model is a domestic and sexual violence prevention program created by Vera House. The program organizes small group discussions among men that focus on rethinking gender norms and preventing domestic violence and sexual assault. The Worker Institute undertook a survey of the model to collect information from participants and evaluate the program. The survey was electronically distributed to all individuals who had participated in the 12 Men Model and received a 16.11% response rate. The sample showed a broad and fairly varied distribution of demographic characteristics of participants.
Men in the program revealed that they had absorbed patriarchal messages about gender expectations while growing up. However, participants demonstrated a new understanding of gender norms through participation in the program. They pushed back against societal expectations and connected restrictive gender roles and behaviors to issues of domestic and sexual violence. Participants reassessed their definition of violence and abuse, understanding the issues from the perspective of survivors, and attained a better knowledge of the tactics and attitudes of abusers. Most importantly, they learned and enhanced their skills in domestic violence prevention. A vast majority of participants in the program demonstrated they could better engage other men on the issue of domestic violence, provoke conversation, and unpack unconscious bias.
Participants in the 12 Men Model utilized what they learned. Eighty-nine percent of participants reported implementing these strategies in their own life. A large majority personally used domestic and sexual violence prevention techniques in their own relationships or community, and many intervened in a non-aggressive way against demeaning language or potential domestic violence situations. Respondents felt that when they employed strategies, these techniques were impactful. Most encouragingly, after their participation, participants engaged other men on issues of domestic violence, with the majority engaging more than six others. Men who participate in the model also recommend the program to others and can identify men who would be willing to participate, and so the 12 Men Model demonstrates large potential for growth.
The program can transform its participants’ attitudes about gender and masculinity and engenders the ability and willingness to speak out about oppression and dangerous attitudes. Men feel they have a responsibility to act against domestic and sexual violence and engage other men in the necessary work of preventing demeaning behavior and abuse. In this way, the model shows strong indications that it could lead to reductions of violence in communities.