Working with Perpetrators of Domestic abuse and violence


It is not uncommon for local authorities to invest up to 10 times more in finance & resources per annum to supporting victims as they spend on preventative work such as working with Perpetrators of domestic abuse and violence. Some councils however are now questioning this approach as evidence shows that even if a relationship ends for a victim from their abuser then quite often that perpetrator will move to another abusive relationship.

Step by Step offer a wide range of bespoke and prescribed educational programmes on all aspects of domestic abuse and violence intervention work. The 24 week and 11 week Programmes we deliver are recognised as being run by some of the most experienced workers in the field of domestic violence intervention. They are participatory, memorable and practical. They incorporate diverse teaching methods, including drama and experiential exercises, in order to meet a broad range of learning styles. They are designed to change people’s practice, rather than just increase their knowledge base and have been written specifically for working with perpetrators of domestic abuse and violence.


Target Audience
For agencies who wish to employ Step by Step’s professional facilitators to work with perpetrators of domestic abuse or violence as individuals or within group settings as required.


Course Content

  • Principles of the intervention model
    •     Understanding domestic violence
    •     Children and domestic violence- The impact!
    •     Intervention work – the model of linked services
    •    The work of linked partner services
    •    Safety planning and change monitoring


Individual work and assessment with perpetrators

  • Challenging denial and minimisation
    •     Motivational work
    •     Risk factors


A note about individual workIn our experience, individual work can in some instances be less effective than group work. It does not provide the same opportunities for supportive confrontation, or for men or women to learn from each other and break the silence that many abusers create.

We offer individual work to men or women who are already attending a group or who need more intensive support – for example because of language or literacy difficulties, because he or she is considered a suicide risk, or because we have particular concerns about the partner’s safety.

Group work includes-

  • De-constructing an incident of violence
    •     Parenting and domestic violence
    •     Using drama, role play and re-enactments
    •     Covering sexual abuse in a DV group
    •     Techniques for developing empathy
  • The impact DV/DA has on others child/themselves/victims/extended family/friends/wider community etc


‘ Programme for Perpetrators’


Based on the Duluth model this program outlines the role played in such offending by the pursuit of power and control. In keeping with that model, this program examines the role played by attitudes and belief on the actions and responses of both male or female perpetrators and the victim(s).

The aim of the programme is to provide an opportunity for men to change both their abusive behaviour and the beliefs that underpin it. Furthermore as a preventative strategy it aims to stop re-offending and help make positive changes to the perpetrator and their relationships.

Step by Step also deliver a similar program to female perpetrators and those in same sex relationships.

The objectives

  • Help service users achieve a much better understanding of why these use violence and aggression in their intimate relationships, the attitudes and beliefs that underpin their behaviour and what factors reinforce and maintain their use of that behaviour in that context,  recognising the abusive tactics they have used to control their partner.
  • Encourage participants to identify, use and build on existing strengths and skills to change their behaviour. identifying non abusive behaviour.
  • Enhance motivation to engage and effect change by providing a safe, respectful, stimulating and challenging environment which is conducive to learning.
  • Help service users develop practicable and sustainable strategies for maintaining change once the programme has finished. These include relapse prevention group meet-ups.
  • To place their beliefs and behaviour in a social context. To acknowledge the effect of their abuse upon others.


Group sessions compromise of active participation and structured discussions involving value awareness, problem solving, perspective training, social skills training, understanding and developing self. 

This is a rolling program based on nine themes, each one taught over a weekly period allowing for reflective learning. Graduated methods are used to introduce the participants to the theme, to explore them, to enable participants to understand their own controlling behaviour and finally to explore alternative ‘non-controlling’ behaviours.


Demonstration of impact of learning via the end of course report. Observational notes from facilitators as to service users engagement, interaction and learning. 

Target group

All perpetrators who wish to reduce their level of danger to others. If a perpetrator does not want to engage then the facilitator will ask them to leave as soon as this becomes apparent. Appropriate feedback given to professional who made the referral. 


Perpetrators come to the programme from a variety of sources such as family courts, social services or the police. None are sent to the programme as part of a criminal court order such as probation.


It is made clear by the facilitators that attendees cannot miss any of the sessions as they will be removed from the current program being delivered. There will be no flexibility around this as it can be a manipulative tactic used to undermine the facilitator.

Confidentiality applies in that perpetrators must feel confident and must feel safe to speak in the group. However, the facilitator makes it clear that in cases where the child or victim is in danger the authorities will be informed. Social workers will be given any information they require and perpetrators are informed of this.

So what can I expect From the work delivered?
A common question. It is the experience of the facilitators of Step by Step training that the courses mentioned above are best when they form part of an overall strategy rather than working in isolation. Every domestic violence perpetrator program should have an attached service for partners offering information and support. In fact, a domestic violence perpetrator program without such a service for the victim who has suffered the abuse is likely to increase the risks towards them rather than promote their safety. Step by Step program incorporate for example a ‘drop-in’ service for those perpetrators who have completed the program as part of relapse prevention and support for the individual who may need advice from other agencies who are periodically invited to the group.

The evaluation of any training course is not just whether new skills have been learnt or whether performance has benefitted the learner. The measurement of what has improved and how are the most important. Our company uses risk assessment & evaluation tools within some of the progrmmes for family law courts and professional agencies consideration. Risk assessment tools covering 24 key factors and assess individuals as to their risk status. Additionally observational notes and a simple body of work completed by participants are given to our commissioners, quite often  interim reports for conferences/core groups are asked for which are included in our costs.

Step by Step training offer a pre-program engagement intake service to check the suitability of participants and give an opportunity to remove barriers with participants on behalf of our clients. Our commissioners feel this offers value for money to ensure take up and retention are from committed users.

Additionally, Step by Step facilitators work in partnership with social workers before, during and after program completion in order to maximize the benefits of the work and to capture data for example about homelessness or recidivism.

Current Clients include- Durham County Council, Thirteen Care Group, Middlesbrough Council 


“Our service worked with a father and his children when they moved into the area The father had a history of various prior offences and not engaging with services He undertook a PACT course prior to attending our services with his children. During the time with our services he fully engaged and stated he wanted to enrich his children’s experiences and provide them with a childhood he never experienced He wanted to be a good role model for his children and the community If we had not known of his past history it certainly wasn’t evident in his approach to life and his children’s needs”.
Tracy Barnett- Principal Officer, Children’s Centre, Seaham.

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