Posted in Media releases
Failure to include domestic violence survivors in men’s behaviour change programs can exacerbate abuse
Tuesday, 21st April 2020
When victims/survivors of domestic violence aren’t involved in men’s behaviour change programs, perpetrators may use their participation as an opportunity to further their abuse.
Every woman with a current or former partner involved with such a program should be offered support from the program or a partner organisation, according to a report published today by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS).
The report found that this kind of ‘partner contact’ is a crucial component of successful men’s behaviour change. However, the practice is often not prioritised, as it is labour-intensive and resources are limited.
“Partner contact involves working with the current or ex-partners of a program participant to provide them with support, information and safety planning” said Professor Donna Chung, lead researcher on the project. “In many cases, these women and their children have previously had no interaction with formal services. Partner contact is often a crucial first pathway to support.”
Men’s behaviour change programs aim to promote the safety of women and children by holding perpetrators accountable for their past and future actions, while facilitating changes in their attitudes and behaviours.
“For victims/survivors to be safe from violence, they will need ongoing access to these services, regardless of whether their perpetrator is attending a men’s behaviour change program,” said Dr Heather Nancarrow, ANROWS CEO.
“If a man stops attending his behaviour change program, the risk to his partner or ex-partners is far more likely to increase than to disappear. A woman’s access to help shouldn’t be dependent on the behaviour of her abuser.”
The findings show that across the various kinds of Australian perpetrator interventions, there is no consistent approach to involving partners in this process.
“Different approaches can work in different contexts, but it is fundamental that services are clear about the importance of their partner contact work, and the goals, processes and ethics that underpin it,” said Professor Chung.
While standards and guidelines do exist, the project found there is a lack of awareness of these among practitioners in frontline services.
“What the research recommends is the development of national minimum-practice standards for partner support as a component of all men’s behaviour change programs,” said Dr Nancarrow.
“For these standards to be met, partner contact services will need to be additionally resourced and funded. It is also essential that funding bodies coordinate their criteria and ensure that effective partner contact is prioritised when granting funds.”
A Practice Guide has been developed to help frontline workers apply the new evidence. This practical tool has been designed to help prioritise victim/survivor safety when working with perpetrators of domestic and family violence.
For further information, contact Michele Robinson at ANROWS
on +61 0417 780 556 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited (ANROWS) is a not-for-profit independent national research organisation.
ANROWS is an initiative of Australia’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022. ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.
ANROWS is the only such research organisation in Australia.