New programme takes aim at domestic violence

Family Law|February 17th 2016

What is the best way to deal with perpetrators of domestic violence? I suspect that responses to that question would vary considerably. Some would lean towards a ‘lock them up and throw away the key’ approach, whereas others may think treatment would work best.

This week, a new programme has been announced which falls firmly under the latter school of thought. ‘Drive’ will target the most dangerous perpetrators of domestic violence. It will begin as a pilot scheme in Essex, Sussex and South Wales, the BBC reports.

While there are already programmes aimed at abusers they tend to involve group or family therapy. What sets Drive apart is that each offender will receive one-on-one sessions.

The scheme has been backed by domestic abuse charities Respect and SafeLives. They have expressed hope that the sessions offered by Drive will help abusers deal with any drug, alcohol or mental health issues they face. The charities believe that such a focus will stop people from simply moving on to abuse someone else.

SafeLives chief executive officer Diana Barran said that although there has been “significant improvements for victim safety in the UK there are still 100,000 women who live with high-risk domestic abuse at any one time”.

While a focus on victims is essential, she continued, the instances of domestic violence will never see a significant drop without “getting to the root and the cause of the problem – the perpetrator”.

Rachel Williams was a long-suffering victim of domestic violence who was abused by her husband for 18 years. After she filed for divorce in 2011, her husband shot her in the leg with a sawn-off shotgun before hanging himself. She told the BBC that Drive could have been beneficial to her late husband.

It is imperative to enact such a programme in order to “change the mindset of the perpetrator and hold them accountable for their actions”, she said.

The pilot scheme is expected to deal with as many as 900 offenders over the next three years.

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  1. Kushal Sood says:

    Although it is only the pilot stage, all press and other coverage of this scheme is made conspicuous by the absence of empirical evidence and/or academic backing. Such effectiveness is key to my own work as a prison lawyer, where prisoners often look for alternative means of reducing risk, owing to long waiting lists for schemes like this. Journalists appear to have been understandably distracted by the story of Rachel Williams, the brave victim in this story, at the expense of analysing whether or not the scheme itself is worthwhile.

  2. stitchedup says:

    Just another man bashing scheme designed to grab the headlines and perpetuate the feminist misandric myth that domestic violence is just a man on woman issue.

  3. stitchedup says:

    “Men who pose a high risk of domestic violence are to be given one-to-one support to change their behaviour.”

    Clearly targeted at men Marilyn. Vanessa Feltz also made a sorry attempt at disguising it as a scheme that targets abusers of both genders on radio 2 earlier.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Stitched Up
      I agree with you. But I suspect there are more male abusers than women.

      • stitchedup says:

        Well at least we know where you stand Marilyn. I haven’t time at the mo to reply in detail to your supposition but will try to later.


      • Stitchedup says:

        even if the ONS statistics are taken as a true and valid measure of the relative rates of domestic violence/abuse suffered by women vs men, it would indicate that this scheme is prepared to ignore approximately a third of domestic abuse/violence perpetrators purely because they happen to be women. I find that staggering and see no justification to put public money into such a gender biased scheme. I’ve seen other schemes where it’s been argued that there’s a genuine need to treat men and women separately, e.g. the need to house men and women separately in refuge scenarios; but this scheme doesn’t qualify in that respect. I firmly believe that more men are victims of domestic abuse/violence that the ONS statistics portray. There are so many factors that contribute towards skewing of this data….. Gamesmanship during divorce/separation is one factor… Women and their solicitors often secure extremely dubious ex-parte non-molestation orders along with occupation ordered simply to remove the male form the family home… as you know… no proof of domestic violence/abuse is needed, just a signed affidavit claiming to be “in fear” of possible domestic abuse or claiming to feel intimidated. Once that non-mol is secured, and it is overwhelmingly against the male, a civil domestic abuse/violence offence is recorded. The man may then fall foul of the order in a non-violent way e.g talking when he felt he had reasonable excuse, and then we have a criminal domestic abuse/violence offence recorded. Then we have the fact that men tend not to report domestic abuse/violence perpetrator against them as they are not a party to the feminist encouraged victimhood. Add to that the fact that men have a hard time being taken seriously by Police when they report domestic violence/abuse against them you will begin to understand how and why incidents of dv against men is under-called and dv against women is over-called.

        I’m also concerned that this scheme, like ex-parte non-mols, is yet another attempt to circumvent natural justice and goes against the principles of our justice system by adopting a guilty until proven innocent approach. The article uses the term perpetrators to describe men that haven’t been convicted of any offence of domestic abuse… we see this all the time…. accusers being called victims or survivors and the accused being called perpetrators before anything has been proven. I suspect the reasons behind this is that our Police, judiciary and others in the legal profession have jettisoned any burden of proof for domestic abuse/violence incidents long ago, and it has become accepted practice to adopt the guilty until proven approach.

        Finally, who decides that a man is a high risk and what is it that the Police intend to do to those that refuse to participate in the scheme?? It appears to suggest that the Police will harass and seek to place restrictive orders on men where no offence of domestic violence/abuse has been proven…. not even in the civil courts…. how can that be right?? There’s every chance that the scheme could result in vulnerable men being pushed over the edge.

  4. Nordic says:

    Dear Marilyn,
    The BBC Breakfast show this morning certainly reported this initiative as aimed at helping men avoid becoming DV perpetrators.
    Whatever the gender distribution of DV perpetrators, surely we can agree this is not just a male issue. For starters, we do know (statistically both here and abroad) that mothers acting alone are twice as likely to kill their own kids as fathers acting alone. Is child murder not domestic violence? Should we just ignore these extreme cases of DV, when they are committed by mothers? Do these women (and their endangered kids) not deserve help?
    I despair at the extent of gender polarisation and stereotyping in this country. Fathers are freckle. Mothers are vengeful. Men commit DV. Women alienate their kids. And so on…. I have lived in 5 countries across 3 continents and travel constantly. In my experience, not even the US rival the polarisation of genders evident here.
    This polarisation is ingrained in our family laws and policies. How are we ever to come up with initiatives that truly benefit families and children if we start by stereotyping mums and dads, men and women, into grotesque caricatures?

  5. Yvie says:

    I suspect most men may conceal domestic violence against themselves, hence many cases will go unreported.

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