A "perpetrator" is a quasi legalistic word for someone who has been convicted. In Britain less than 1 prosecution results per 100 police call-outs and of these prosecutions about 60% will result in a conviction. So to call all partner abusers "perpetrators " is to jump to a conclusion that a) they have broken the law, b) that they will be prosecuted and c) they will be convicted.
Adding a "criminalising" name does help us to understand the seriousness of the behaviour, however, taking away the presumption of innocence until proven guilty strikes me as being a step to far for our democratic country. Our sympathies lie with the abused, our work lies mainly with the abusers.
Abuser courses started in America in the 70s and were basically "copied" in Britain.
A woman called Ellen Pence, one of the radical feminists of her time was involved in the creation of the Duluth Abuser course. She coined the notion "POWER and CONTROL" and male privilege, the aspect which "permits" men to beat women. It was a notion which never sat easy in democratic Britain. Eventually Ellen recognised that the POWER and CONTROL that she and her colleagues always sought out in the behaviour of the male abusers whom she tried to "re-educated" by rooting it out was largely missing. She honestly admitted this in an essay in 1999.
In Britain the women's movement still loves this old idea, and newly accredited courses, are still to this day based almost entirely on this now long out-of-date, inappropriate, and sexually bigoted view of heterosexual society, in which women are at 14.9% a very significant minority group of abusers!
This belief was a blight which 20 years later America is just beginning to realise, as its abusers courses have virtually totally failed to make any impact on the crime figures.
The true, underlying causes of domestic abuse are very many and very varied, and meaningful work really needs to be undertaken in a group, but also on the basis of what each individual in that group needs to manage for them personally their variation of being a domestic abuser.
Sadly also the Probation Service has got itself lined up with this piece of politics and is still trying to improve on vast numbers of mandated men who drop-out because the course does not match anything like their perceptions of their problems.
A very good example of this is that whilst stating they are seeking to develop the men's empathy for their victim, anything emotional is utterly "cut out" of IDAPs work with, in their case perpetrators.
Some very unsuccessful, third sector courses, report a drop-out rate of more than 75%.
Related articles from our experts
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- Life after surviving domestic abuse
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