The Proof of the Pudding: What Have Outcomes From Male Perpetrator Interventions Taught Us?

July 25, 2017

In over forty years of treatment for male perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) or Family Violence there has been limited success in terms of harm reduction and recidivism reduction across a broad range of different programs regardless of theoretical position, treatment modality, structure, or length.

nigel denning
Nigel Denning

The predominant treatment model for male perpetrators is based on a socio-political feminist model in which IPV is an expression of male entitlement and privilege in the context of a patriarchal system.

Treatment derived from this ideological position utilises psychoeducation as the primary focus of intervention with some social learning theory, cognitive behavioural and skills training included.  This treatment approach assumes homogeneity within groups of male perpetrators, that is, there is no significant difference between various perpetrators regardless of the type of IPV (physical, emotional, social, financial, emotional) in which they are involved.

However, research into treatment outcomes suggests that male perpetrators are a heterogeneous group. Numerous alternative theories regarding male perpetrators have been proposed and these are summarised in the literature on perpetrator typologies. The ways in which perpetrators differ vary widely according to which particular theory and research orientation, for example, whether from a psychological or a sociological perspective.

dave misso
Dave Misso

Research into individual vulnerabilities of perpetrators have also explored the correlations between frequency and intensity of violence and levels of psychopathology, co-morbity (e.g. drug and alcohol use), social learning, attachment, complex trauma, or combinations of these factors.

In an attempt to further describe the current status of perpetrator interventions, we adapted Holzworth-Munroe’s perpetrator typology while accommodating the other main typology theories.  We then collated the various theories on perpetrator types with categories of IPV that have been used to classify men in separate groups within the broader perpetrator population.  In other words, we organised the typology literature into a table of types. We then organised the different typologies along a spectrum of type and severity placing borderline/dysphoric preparators at one end of the spectrum and sociopathic perpetrators at the other. This method of classification allowed us to suggest a method of assessment and case conceptualisation that matches perpetrator types with specific treatment approaches.

By Dave Misso and Nigel Denning

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