Men work together to break the cycle of domestic violence

In the wake of high-profile cases of alleged domestic violence by NFL players, the league's team owners heard a presentation Wednesday on the dangers of abuse.

Four players, including Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, have been cut or suspended for abuse this season.

In society, many of those who abuse a spouse or child were abused themselves. CBS News visited a domestic violence intervention program in northern New Jersey that aims to break that chain.

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After completing a court-ordered 26-week domestic violence intervention program in northern New Jersey, these men now attend sessions voluntarily.
CBS News

All of the men we met had abused a woman and been sentenced by a judge to attend the program, which includes a support group where they share their stories.

"I came to the conclusion there was no one to blame. There was no one to blame for me busting the window, trying to climb through the window. It was no one's fault but my own."

"When you are a kid, you're getting beat up so then when you grow up, you think it's normal. 'That's normal. My father didn't get in trouble, so why am I going to get in trouble?'"

"We don't think. We just snap."

After completing the court-ordered 26 week sessions, now they're all here voluntarily -- to help each other stay on track.

"It's not a pretty sight," Tim Medini describes. "You see an ugly person and I don't want to be an ugly person."

Medini was sent here more than a decade ago. He came back on his own in 2012. He says his problem is verbal abuse.

"Words are just as bad as hitting someone, as physical violence, in my opinion," Medini says. "It scars you. It is like a knife -- it cuts you deep and there is no need for it."

Calvin Gomez pulled a knife on his then-fiancée and threatened to kill her. He no longer wants to be that man.

"When I get upset today, I'll smile," Gomez says. "I don't have to sit there and attack -- because you are attacking my credibility, I don't have to attack you back. I know how to walk away today."

Juli Harpell-Elam runs the sessions.

"It is so crucial to work with men, to help them end abusive behavior, to help them make better choices about that, to examine their thinking," Harpell-Elam says. "If we are not looking at the source of where the abuse is happening -- and that is their abusive partners -- nothing's going to change."

Medini firmly believes abusers can be rehabilitated.

"Absolutely. Not a doubt in my mind," Medini says. "I have and I am proud to say that. It takes work, granted. We're human, we make mistakes, but I won't make those same mistakes again."

There are some 1,500 domestic violence intervention programs across the country. Experts say the results are mixed.

However, they agree holding abusers accountable and giving them help when it makes sense is just as important as helping victims.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.