Will changing the focus from victim to perpetrator end domestic violence

March 3, 2016

stop domestic violence menDomestic violence help in the UK is traditionally thought of as being aimed at victims – not those who have committed the acts.

But things are starting to change. A new pilot programme aimed at helping some of the most dangerous domestic violence offenders was recently announced, amid a flurry of media attention.

“Drive” will offer high-risk male and female perpetrators of domestic violence bespoke one-to-one sessions to change their behaviour as part of a three-year pilot project. Though there are programmes of this kind already in the UK, Drive is a new, more pragmatic response, focusing on the individual circumstances of those involved.

Most of the current domestic violence perpetrator programmes offer help via group sessions, but the premise of Drive is that each perpetrator referred to the service has a very specific, tailored response. This could be in the form of psychiatric care, counselling, or whatever the perpetrator needs to overcome their issues.

Participants will also be offered help to solve any mental health issues, alcohol or drug abuse problems they may have, along with advice about housing, employment and parenting. Any perpetrators who refuse to take part in the scheme will be closely monitored by police, and civil and criminal orders will be considered in an attempt to stop their violent behaviour.

Organised by national charity Saferlives, the programme also makes use of resources on the ground – including police, the local authority and commissioners, who have knowledge of the community circumstances to help implement it.

Already the project has faced criticism from a number of womens’ charities that argue that there is no evidence such an approach will reduce violent behaviour. Moreover, domestic violence is often said to be a social problem, and so focusing on individual men will not address the root causes of domestic violence. To read more and follow the conversation click here.

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