Abusers come from all walks of life. They can come from any ethnic group, religion, class or neighbourhood. They may be older or younger. However, whilst they may also be any gender, the majority of perpetrators are men.
Since abusers typically display different kinds of behaviours in public than they do in their private relationships, most people are not usually aware of domestic violence when it is happening in their community. Sometimes, it is difficult to believe that a person who behaves so respectably in public can behave so appallingly with their family. This can sometimes make it even more difficult for women who are trying to reach out for support, as they may feel that they will not be believed when they speak out about the violence.
The unequal power relations between men and women in society account for the fact that the vast majority of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women rather than vice versa. Male privilege operates on an individual and societal level to maintain a situation of male dominance, where men have power over women and children. In this way, domestic violence by men against women can be seen as a consequence of the inequalities between men and women, rooted in patriarchal traditions that encourage men to believe they are entitled to power and control over their partners. View the Power and Control Wheel, which depicts the tactics of control used within abusive relationships.
The abuser is responsible, and there is no excuse for domestic violence. The abuser has a choice to use violence, or instead they can choose to behave non-violently, fostering a relationship built on trust, honesty, fairness and respect. View the Equality Wheel, which is a mirror image of the Power and Control Wheel, which is where we should strive to support the men to work towards. It is important to reinforce that the victim is never responsible for the abuser's behaviour.
For more information and guidance visit the Women’s Aid website.
How to work with perpetrators
Respect is a National registered charity promoting best practice for domestic violence perpetrator programmes and associated support services in the UK.
They offer support to:
The Respect Phoneline (0808 8024040) offers information and advice to frontline workers about working with domestic violence perpetrators. They can offer you:
- Advice and guidance on working safely with domestic violence perpetrators; and we explain which interventions are safe and most effective
- Explore your concerns about working with a client and offer a fresh perspective - your call is confidential and anonymous
- Explain how domestic violence perpetrators may manipulate frontline workers in order to exercise power and control over their partners
- Explain why anger management courses, mediation and couples counselling are not appropriate interventions for domestic violence perpetrators
- Provide contact details for local domestic violence perpetrator programmes and explain how they work
For more information take a look at the Guidelines for Working with Men Perpetrating Domestic Violence produced by Respect.
Respect also offers some short-term solutions that perpetrators can use to support their own critical self-reflection and self-management.
For further advice and guidance visit the Respect Website.