Metaphors of transformation: Change in male batterers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: People use language to construct, frame, and give meaning to life experiences. Metaphors are a common means of representing and expressing experiences. They create a space for the interpretation and extension of their meaning, thus serving both a revelatory function and as a force for change. This article analyzes how male batterers use metaphors after having received intervention to understand their experiences and changes. Method: We use a pooled sample combining 4 qualitative studies based on in-depth semistructured interviews with 62 male batterers, aged 26 to 66 years, who underwent therapy for intimate partner violence in Israel. Results: Two pivotal thematic axes emerge from the interviews. The first is the axis of metaphors portraying the construction of a self-reflexive process that enables abusive men to understand stressful emotions and behaviors, thus attaining self-control. Aligned along the second axis are metaphors that reflect changes in the experience and understanding of the gendered-self and the gendered power relationship that manifest in the dynamics of abusive men's violence. Discussion and implications: Male batterers use metaphors to describe the changes in their worldview, attitudes, and relationships and in their emotional and gendered-selves. Metaphors are powerful indicators of how male batterers construct their reality and can be useful as a heuristic instrument for understanding and evaluating batterers' changes as a result of professional intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-361
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Men and Masculinity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Psychological Association.


  • Change processes
  • Domestic violence
  • Male batterers
  • Metaphors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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