Frequent questions in practice and among profesionals are ‘Why we need programs dealing with people who use violence as a model of behavior?’ ‘Why is there a need for these programs in leading international strategies?’ and Why it is not enough to treat the perpetrators of violence only from the legislative perspective, by practicing stricter penal policy?
This treatment of perpetrators’ violence is conducted from a feminist perspective of the protection and welfare of victims.The goals of working with perpetrators of domestic violence and partner related violence are the cessation of violence and a long-term and sustainable security of women and children, victims of violence, and a permanent change of violent behavior patterns of the perpetrator.
If we want to deal in a systemic and systematic approach to the problem of domestic violence and violence in intimate relationships, we must deal with the consequences of violence, as well as all actors of violence, which includes the victim, the perpetrators, and witnesses of violence, who are often children.
We will try to give some of the possible answers to the question: ‘Why work with men who use violence’:
ABUSERS ARE FATHERS
Even when the violence is stopped by emergency teams, or the victim has left the abuser, he is still a father to his children and therefore, it is important to break the pattern of violent behavior.
We need to look multiple consequences of domestic violence from the perspective of children, as silent observers or active participants. According to the study “Mapping of domestic violence in Central Serbia” (M. Babovic, Ginić K., O. Vukovic, 2010), during 40% of cases of violent physical attack on their mothers at least one minor child was present. It often happens that children try to protect mother from the attack, or that a children “accidentally find themselves on the path of violence.” According to this survey, in 20% of cases, other inmates or relatives also suffered physical injury during an attack on a woman. In 14% of cases it was a child aged up to 6 years of age, in 21% of cases 7-14 years old, and in 16% of cases the child was 15-18.
International studies suggest that as many as 50% of cases in which men commit violence against their partners, they also commit violence against their own children. Among men who do not commit violence against their partner that figure is about 7% (Saunders, 1995). Other studies suggest that partner violence and violence against children is identified in 30-50% of families in which violence against partner has been identified (Edleson, 2001).
EXISTING SOCIAL SERVICES AND INTERVENTIONS DIRECTED AT THE VICTIMS ARE NOT SUFFICIENT
We are witnessing a vicious circle in which the institutions cannot meet the needs of victims, either because of legislative limitations, lack of evidence or inadequate services. The social and legal system have a long history of normalization or ignoring the violence. Even when the police, judiciary, prosecution, social work centers do all that is in their power, this often is not enough to stop the violence.
MEN ARE NOT SATISFIED WITH THEIR VIOLENT BEHAVIOR
Research, and practice, showed that even violent offenders sometimes suffer the consequences of their violent behavior. It often happens that bullies do not understand their violent behavior, that they cannot control it, and they do not want to use violence as the model behavior. A number of offenders want to stop this behavior, but do not know how.
If we help the woman, the violence continues even if she does not stay in touch with the perpetrator. To remind, in almost 30% of cases the physical violence continues after separation from former partners. And when a woman leaves a man who is abusive, he still tends to stalk, harass and ill-treat her. We are often witnesses of the media reports stating that the majority of women who were murdered by a partner, were killed when they wanted to stop the violence and to leave a partner or to divorce. On the other hand, these women testify that violence ends when the bully finds a new victim. Thus, even when a woman leaves the abuser, violence has not stopped, because the abuser may start violent relationships with other women.