Men Evolving Non-Violently (M.E.N.) is a non-profit organization operating in Sonoma County, California to address the issue of men's abuse of women and children. Our organization was founded in 1981 in Santa Rosa, CA, more than a decade before key domestic violence and abuse laws were enacted. A volunteer Collective was formed, spear headed by two beloved members of Sonoma County, John Lynch PhD and the late Merton Preston. John and Mert, along with other community members, were dedicated to changing the mythology that all abusers are bad men. The M.E.N. Collective was based on the belief that many abusive men are "good men behaving badly" and could stop their cycle of domestic violence. They designed the time honored Stop the Violence program (STV) which is a non-judgmental model based on the data that shows abusive behavior is taught and can be unlearned. This program then, and now, is offered weekly for 52 weeks a year.
M.E.N. created a training program at the Santa Rosa Junior College to teach others how to work with men with abusive behavior. The Collective grew from graduates of this program as well as men who came out of the STV program. After the passage of the landmark Violence Against Women Act in 1994, M.E.N. worked with Sonoma County Probation Department to design and run the first 52- week court appointed groups for men convicted of domestic violence. The Collective also felt committed to running their original and confidential Stop the Violence peer counseling program separate from the court ordered groups for men who recognized their behavior needed to change and were motivated to do so. As awareness of the STV program grew, therapists began referring their clients and discovered it was a powerful adjunct to therapy.
M.E.N.'s definition of abuse is any behavior that is demeaning, disempowering, or disrespectful. The abusive behavior can be physical, emotional, sexual and/or financial, and is usually inflicted by a man who lacks the skill necessary for successful intimacy. M.E.N.’s model is to provide a safe place where men work with other men facing similar challenges, minimizing the sense of being alone or being the only one who is struggling. M.E.N.’s goal is to teach skills that help men develop healthy and successful ways to relate to loved ones and themselves. Many men who have attended an STV program over the past 40 years have transformed their lives.
The Collective is historically and currently made up of largely peer counselors; many who were STV participants. The Collective itself demonstrates the magic of STV - Abusive behavior is taught and can be unlearned. Many men from STV have "evolved" from not knowing how to have a healthy relationship with themselves or others to accessing the vulnerability of their heart, speaking their truth and offering a compassionate presence to their loved ones as well as other men struggling with their anger. Today M.E.N. offers 3 weekly groups, a training program, we run a Helpline, provide speakers to the community, develop educational programs for mental health professionals and support organizations that serve women who are at risk of or have experienced abuse.
This group is 100% voluntary and confidential; we do not keep official records or report your attendance.
We offer both a Monday night group in person in Petaluma or a Wednesday night group on Zoom, both from 7 PM - 9 PM.
Once you have learned and consistently use the tools and skills taught in STV, you have the opportunity to continue deepening your skills in the M.E.N. SKILLS Program.
SKILLS is held on Wednesday night from 7 PM - 9 PM and is currently held on Zoom.