Men In Progress, GLIDE’s violence prevention program for men, grew in the past year to add a Stage Two meeting on Thursday nights in addition to the Stage One meeting every Tuesday night. After receiving certification by the San Francisco Adult Probation Department in January 2013, the program expanded its 52-week schedule to include Stage Two, and currently welcomes over 80 participants each week.
Part of the success of Men In Progress is that it’s a peer-facilitated group. Men learn to recognize when they are in ‘fatal peril’ – the moment when their sense of power and control is challenged. They also work to help each other take accountability for their violence, both in class and in their larger communities.
“In Stage One we talk about how you need to stop being in your ‘hit man’ image – this image that you give yourself to carry out your violating,” says Ray, security supervisor at GLIDE and Men in Progress facilitator. “Stage Two is about asking yourself, ‘So if I’m not going to be this image, then who am I? Who is my authentic self?’
“In Stage Two we start giving guys the tools about how to identify your authentic self – the person you are without your violence. It’s about how to name your authentic self, and how to create a fulfillment plan to keep being your authentic self, to keep yourself safe. And we are building mechanisms to keep guys from going back to becoming that hit man image.”
Men in Progress is modeled after ManAlive, the influential national violence prevention program started in the 1980s. At GLIDE, there are currently about 40 men attending Stage One every Tuesday night. Through the repetition of reading program text, creating personal agreements, and group exercises, men learn to recognize the ways they express violence – verbally, emotionally, and physically. They learn how to stop patterns of language that excuse violence – including denial, minimizing, blame, and collusion.
After about 20 weeks they graduate to Stage Two, which also averages 40 participants every Thursday night. In order to move on to Stage Two, participants have to be familiar with the core elements of the program, including memorizing the ‘eight change agreements,’ and diagramming the ‘separating cycle’ – a breakdown of the elements of the fatal peril moment. Participants work with one another in great detail to name their specific emotions, to identify the authentic self, and to learn how to respond, not react, to violence.
“It’s one thing to say ‘I don’t want to be violent,’ against all the odds in a society that teaches us all to be violent. How do we change it around and actually be non-violent? That’s GLIDE, that the Men in Progress charge,” says Hamish Sinclair, founder of ManAlive and a Men in Progress facilitator at GLIDE.
As a community of peers, Men In Progress participants also sit in a circle in chronological order, with new men on one side, coaches in the middle – or ‘saddle’ – of the circle, and senior advocates on the far side. The circle functions by senior advocates giving information to the coaches, who then pass it to the new men. “That way everybody has the power – it doesn’t just sit with one guy, the facilitator, having all of the information. Everybody equally has the information,” says Ray.
“We all depend on each other to be honest, and talk about our violence, and what we’ve done in the past. Nobody’s perfect and we still slip up, and sometimes we need support from other people,” says Kenny, a Stage Two participant who has been in Men in Progress for about 36 weeks.
Another key element of Stage Two is for men to bring the program to their larger communities, to reach out beyond the once a week group. Men in Progress receives more referrals now because of the recent certification, but facilitators notice that more men are also hearing about the group through word of mouth. “The program is just growing – it’s amazing to see the growth from 2008 until now,” Ray says.
For more information about Men in Progress, call 415.674.6195 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.