An international research project will support frontline workers to assist perpetrators of domestic violence in changing their behaviours.
Bournemouth University is one of the partners in the The Other Side of the Story: Perpetrators in Change (OOSPC) project, which aims to prevent further domestic violence and change violent behavioural patterns.
The project will increase the capacity of frontline workers to teach perpetrators of domestic violence to adapt non-violent behaviour in interpersonal relationships and understand the impact of domestic violence on them, their family and community.
Most abusers will not change their behavior without outside intervention and perpetrator programmes play a crucial role in breaking the cycle of violence and re-offending.
However, although such programmes remain a crucial part of victim safety and coordinated community responses, they have received less support and less attention by scholars than other parts of the domestic violence system.
BU is the academic lead for the project, with an interdisciplinary team led by the Criminology team and including members from social work and forensic psychology.
Lecturer in Criminology Jade Levell is the BU project manager. She said: “This project is significant because it focuses on sharing good practice across diverse European countries to share models of perpetrator work.
“We are particularly focusing on non-criminal justice interventions, which are so important, since we know in the UK that domestic violence victims at high risk of serious harm or murder live with domestic abuse for 2-3 years before getting help. Since we know victims seldom call the police, we need to be more creative about community solutions for domestic violence perpetration.
“It is imperative that we focus our attention more on the ways in which perpetrators can be supported to stop abuse and be held to account for their behaviour.”
The two-year project is co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (REC) of the European Union.
It is being coordinated by The Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family (APHVF), Cyprus in conjunction with BU and other partners - Centro di Ascolto Uomini Maltrattanti Onlus (CAM), Italy; The Union of Women Associations (UWAH), Greece; European Knowledge Spot, Greece; and Direcția de Asistență Socială și Medicală din Cluj-Napoca-DASM.
It aims to facilitate better and more effective responding to domestic violence through the provision of evidence-based research on the effectiveness of perpetrator programmes.
The project will also increase frontline workers' knowledge and understanding of the dynamics behind domestic violence and abuse and of the typical beliefs, values and tactics of perpetrators.
Jade said: “We are the lead academics in this consortium - the other partners are all frontline services. Before academia I worked frontline in gender-based-violence for 10 years and so this project links back to the gaps in frontline practice.
“Our strong academic as well as grassroots connections should make this a powerful study. This is particularly important in the context of COVID-19, where there has been a global rise in domestic violence/abuse, with the UK seeing double the rates of domestic violence femicide than usual (rising from 2 per week to 5).
“We will be focusing on the coordinated community response model to address the gaps in practice.”