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Services to Male & Female Youth

Working with youth is key to true gender-equality and the prevention and eradication of relationship abuse.

We must support female youth in understanding:

  1. they are equal citizens in our world
  2. they are valuable and worthy of respect and healthy relationships

We must support male youth in understanding:

  1. people of all gender are equal citizens in our world
  2. healthy relationships are worth having, and involve a sharing of power

Bethesda House welcomes children of all genders into the shelter with their mothers.


  1. Youth identifying as female, aged 16 and over, may independently enter the shelter without their mothers.
  2. Durham Region schools may request that Bethesda House facilitate  “Finding Our Voices”  for groups of youth identifying as female or other, to be held within their school.


  1. Youth identifying as male may enter the shelter with their mothers with no age restriction, as long as they are “dependent” upon their mother.
  2. Durham Region schools may request that Bethesda House facilitate our  “Guys for Change”  program for groups of youth who identify as male or other, to be held within their school.
  3. Schools and community agencies may request that youth in their programs who identify as male or other be considered for the  “Guys for Change”  program runs by Bethesda House each summer.

Although Bethesda House is mandated by our primary funder to provide services to victims of abuse, we recognize that…

  • the roots of a perpetrator’s violence can often be traced back to being a victim of domestic violence himself, and
  • it is critical that these youth receive support to reduce the likelihood of carrying that violence into their adult relationships.

For this reason, Bethesda House provides a specialized group for male youth…

  • (Known or suspected) to (currently or previously) live in a home where domestic violence is present
  • (Known or suspected) to (currently or previously) be in an intimate (romantic or personal) relationship that shows signs of being unhealthy
  • Be part of a population known to be at “high risk” of having witnessed/experienced domestic violence (ie. Youth in trouble with the law, youth who have lived with parents or parent-figures experiencing addiction issues, etc.)
  • Who have been identified as “angry” or “at risk”

Overview of the “GUYS FOR CHANGE” group….

    • Guys, from the moment of birth, are put into a “Man Box” where stereotypes abound (Reference: Tony Porter, co-founder of A CALL TO MEN: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women and a author of “Well Meaning Men…Breaking Out of the Man Box. – Ending Violence Against Women”
        Ie. Power is constructed as the capacity to dominate & control
        Ie. Anger is the only “manly” allowable emotion to express
        Ie. Violence & intimidation are a normal part of male life
      • This “Man Box” restricts young men’s choices regarding how to behave and express themselves
      • The paradox of men’s power as defined in the “Man Box” is that the attainment of it is often paradoxically a source of stress, fear & pain for the guys themselves (living up to the stereotype)
      • If anger is the only “manly” emotion you’re allowed to openly express, and domination is an acceptable way to achieve a sense of power & control in your life, what does that say about the likely nature of your relationships with others?
      • FACT: While men’s greatest risk of homicide is from male strangers and acquaintances, women’s is from current or former intimate-relationship partners.
      • What “Man Box” stereotypes about females contribute to this?

During the group process, the guys are helped to identify what’s in the “Man Box”. They unpack the box, examine the stereotypes, look at what they’ve bought into, name their issues and identify options in behaviour and thinking toward themselves, towards others around them and towards those with whom they have personal relationships.

Agencies identifying 5 to 10 male clients fitting the target population criteria may submit a request to Bethesda House to facilitate a “Guys For Change” group for those clients by contacting:

[email protected]