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.