Playwright’s Note: I first read about Dominique Waltower in a San Diego Union-Tribune article published on October 30, 2018, Group Rallies Against Domestic Violence, Abuse by Karen Pearlman. He is quoted as saying, “My job is to engage men. Anywhere there is a captive audience. Men are the ones who primarily need to hear this message, but I want to engage as many people as possible.” He graciously agreed to meet with me to talk about his work and his perspective on domestic violence. I thank him for challenging me to think more about the role of men in prevention and healing.
Dom witnessed domestic violence as a child growing up. In his presentations to groups, he talks about his childhood, how he became an abuser as an adult, and about his recovery.
Dom was arrested and went through domestic violence classes, which he now teaches. He states that going to jail doesn’t mean someone has changed. Change comes from a place of healing from brokenness. Someone may retain information, but not apply it. He observes that the majority of those in Batterers Intervention Programs are in denial. They feel that it’s not relevant to them. They have external blame.
He believes that having an “internal locus of control” is accepting responsibility. It’s how you attribute events in your life. He tells the men in his classes, “You can’t blame others. If you don’t want to be here, it’s in your best interest to change.” He sees classes and counseling as opportunities for that.
DW: Taking responsibility is where change happens.
He observes that men don’t talk about domestic violence and hold each other accountable. They’re anti-counseling and anti-getting help. It’s primarily a male problem we’re not addressing.
Dom asked me about the marketing materials for “The Fire in Me”. Did I have a photo of a man on them? I admitted I did not. “This is our issue,” he said. “If there’s a man saying it, we’ll listen more.”
He asks, “Who is teaching the young boys? How serious are we for change to happen?” Solutions are intervention and prevention. He believes teenagers need to learn life skills and healthy relationships in a semester long, in depth class. There needs to be dialogue and conversation.
DW: It’s an uphill battle. I have the energy for it. I know what I’m put on this earth for . . . Now I’m free. I don’t respond out of emotion . . . It takes an evolved man to rise above.
He loves millennials because they are change agents. They are more open and willing to change the idea of masculinity than older generations. They’re fertile ground. They’re the next generation.