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Domestic abuse intervention programmes

Domestic abuse intervention programmes (or domestic abuse perpetrator programmes, as they're also known) are behaviour-change programmes for individuals who use violence and abuse towards their (ex) partners. They run in small groups aiming to:

  • Help men stop being violent and abusive
  • Help them learn how to relate to their partners in a respectful and equal way
  • Show them non-abusive ways of dealing with difficulties in their relationships and cope with their anger
  • Keep their partner safer

They meet once a week for about two and a half hours in the evening for anything between 20 to 48 weeks (depending on the programme).  They are not anger management classes.

A domestic abuse perpetrator programme is the most appropriate type of help for men who are abusive and violent toward their partners.

What happens at a domestic abuse perpetrator programme meeting?

Some groups are discussion based, but most use a variety of interactive exercises to make the learning realistic, stimulating and relevant to men's own situations.  There are many different programmes across the UK, and the content will vary, but on the whole they will cover these issues:

  • What is violence and abuse?  Why am I violent?
  • Learning that I am in control of my own behaviour and can choose not to be violent
  • Taking responsibility for my behaviour, without blaming others or minimising it
  • Understanding the impact of violence and abuse on my partner and children
  • Learning how to notice when I am becoming abusive and how to stop
  • Learning different, non-abusive ways of dealing with difficulties in my relationship
  • Dealing non-abusively with my partner's anger
  • Negotiation and listening- how to build a respectful relationship

How do domestic abuse perpetrator programmes keep partners safer?

Every domestic violence perpetrator programme should have an attached service for partners offering information and support.  In fact, a domestic abuse perpetrator programme without such a service for the woman who has suffered the abuse is likely to increase the risks towards her rather than promote her safety.

Are there any domestic abuse perpetrator programmes for women or for men in same-sex relationships?

Most domestic abuse perpetrator programmes have been designed for men in heterosexual relationships.  Some of these programmes also work with women (in heterosexual or same-sex relationships) and with gay/bi men . For more information call the Respect Phoneline on 0808 802 4040.

Building Better Relationships programme

In Norfolk the Building Better Relationships (BBR) programme has replaced the delivery of IDAP (Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme), which is provided by the Probation Service.  This has primarily been available for only statutory cases as dealt with via the court process, however there are limited places available for unconvicted perpetrators referred through CAFCAS.

Assessment and suitability

  • Men 18+
  • Offended within heterosexual relationship
  • Victim is current partner or previous partner
  • Index offence is intimate partner violence (IPV)
  • Where index offence is not IPV, but who admit at least one episode of IPV in the previous 24 months
  • Motivated to make positive change


Participants must be able to recall and discuss at least some of their previous relationship aggression. 

This does not necessarily need to include their intimate partner violent convictions, if the participant is willing to discuss unconvicted behaviour.

Men in extreme denial of their behaviour remain unsuitable for BBR

This is a strengths based approach programme which aims to lower resistance to change by:

  • Directing focus on creating a desire for change
  • Individual goal setting
  • Emphasis on engagement whilst tactfully confronting beliefs
  • Building on pre-existing resources that exist in the individual
  • Strengthening therapeutic alliance to support change
  • Focusing more on the behavioural element through skills practice, rather than dialogue

Programme structure

  • Pre-group - two 1-2-1 sessions
  • Foundation block - six group sessions
  • My Thinking module - six group sessions
  • Individual 1-2-1 session
  • My Emotions module - six group sessions
  • Individual 1-2-1 session
  • My Relationships module - six group sessions
  • Post-group - three-way review

Throughout the programme there is also proactive engagement with the partner via an allocated Women's Safety Officer.

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