To Have And To Hold

Men who batter women
Year Released
Film Length(s)
20 mins


To Have and to Hold was the first documentary to examine the problem of wife abuse through the man's experience of it. Composed primarily of interviews with men who have assaulted their wives and lovers, this classic film explores the personal and societal attitudes which lead men to do violence to those nearest them.

Featured review

...compelling, educational and illuminating. It's a sketch of masculine impotence and rage...a film that must be seen.
Bruce McCabe Boston Globe
Bruce McCabe Boston Globe


To Have and to Hold examines the changes in attitudes that are essential for men to stop their violent behavior. Why do men beat their wives? How common is woman abuse? How do violent men perceive their own violence? At what point will men who batter seek help? Is it possible for violent men to change? To Have and to Hold addresses all these questions and probes issues that touch all men's lives: the need to control a situation; the use of violence as an accepted means of solving problems; the training to dominate women; and the inability to feel and express emotions. Produced with Emerge.


...It will stimulate important discussions about why men batter women and what must be done to stop it.
Joseph Pleck Author
Men and Masculinity, The Myth of Masculinity
...offers hope about the potential for violent men to change and take responsibility for their feelings and actions.
Ms. Magazine
Ms. Magazine
...a welcome and hopeful articulation of the abuse issue, one which will add immeasurably to programs at public libraries and community service groups.
...gets to the root causes of the abuse of women with poignancy and good taste.
Library Journal
Library Journal absorbing, challenging and insightful film.
Betsy Warrior Author
Battered Women's Directory
Although most films on battered women have focused on the woman's situation, this one takes a look, in cinema verite style, at the man's side. To Have and To Hold presents various men who have assaulted their wives or lovers and who have subsequently been helped by a counseling service known as Emerge. Each felt that violence was his only way of controlling family situations; each thought it was the man's job to dominate women; each has trouble feeling and expressing emotions. One man actually says, "I'd sooner see her dead than ruin our marriage." In group sessions the wife-beaters learn they are not unique; more important, they learn that wives are persons, not possessions, and that interpersonal communication is a better way of solving family problems than is violence. The film also contains statements from police officers who attest that the problem is usually kept secret but is widespread, and does not discriminate by social or economic level. This film does throw a great deal of light on the kind of society that produces men who resort to violence. But the best thing about it is its depiction of the counseling service, which seems to have the answers to helping men who want to change. Although made as a general film about wife-beating and intended for the public, it could be used as part of training for mental health counselors, to stimulate discussion on ways of curbing domestic violence.
Hospital and Community Psychiatry A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association
Hospital and Community Psychiatry A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association

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