Stopping Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse: A Whole Sector Approach

The sector thinks it’s about time to change the domestic abuse narrative. Don’t ask “why doesn’t the victim leave?” instead

The sector thinks it’s about time to change the domestic abuse narrative. Don’t ask “why doesn’t the victim leave?” instead we’re asking, “why doesn’t the perpetrator stop?”.



In order to prevent domestic abuse, we believe that you need to address the problem, which is the perpetrators behaviour, not the victim’s experience.

To continue with our mission to prevent domestic abuse, we need to deliver safe and effective services. We also need to engage with our colleagues in the sector to work collaboratively to ensure domestic abuse is on the agenda.

Last week, our CEO Michelle Hill provided the Keynote speech for a Domestic Abuse Knowledge Sharing event, which was the final in a series over the past year.

Held in Leeds, this national event was designed to allow professionals who are working in domestic abuse prevention to share their experiences, knowledge and developments within service delivery, strategy and policy.

After an introduction from Jo Todd (CEO, Respect), Michelle set the tone for the day by sharing some statistics about domestic abuse:

  • More than 1.9 million adults experienced domestic abuse in 2019
  • 400,000 perpetrators are causing high and medium harm but less than 1% get specialist intervention
  • 80% of survivors said interventions for perpetrators are a positive thing


She then spoke about our Circle of Support which is all about who we have in our lives to turn to, who we can lean on and why this is absolutely essential for our mental health, emotional resilience and wellbeing. She also gave an overview of our services and stated:

“It is the behaviour of perpetrators in domestic abuse cases which poses the primary safeguarding risk to victims and children. Perpetrators who are motivated to change should have access to safe, effective perpetrator interventions. We need a national perpetrator strategy which ends the postcode lottery around perpetrator interventions and changes the dialogue from why doesn’t the victim leave to why doesn’t the perpetrator stop”


This keynote comes at a perfect time as the Domestic Abuse Bill, a landmark bill for the UK, is going through Parliament. One of the services leading the call to action is Drive, a partnership approach led by SafeLives, Respect and Social Finance.


Rosie Jarvis from Drive also spoke at the event, outlining the work they are currently doing and noted that whilst 1 in 4 perpetrators are repeat offenders and some have as many as 6 different victims, community perpetrator programmes only have capacity for 3,500 perpetrators per year.


Whilst perpetrator programmes are essential in ending domestic abuse, just as important are integrated support services. Michelle took the opportunity to highlight the importance of our integrated support services for victims, survivors and children and the impact this has.


There were a range of other speakers at the event, all of which highlighted important innovations in domestic abuse work.


Deborah Alderson (Detective Superintendent, Northumbria Police) provided an overview of the whole system approach and focused on 3 themes:

  1. Effective working within the criminal justice system
  2. Partnership work with civil and family courts
  3. Multi-agency victim support and offender management


Neil Blacklock (Development Director, Respect) focused on innovations in perpetrator work and how the focus is now not just on behaviour change work, but systems work too. For example – the work Respect are doing on adolescent to parent violence. He also talked about the 10 principles of the Respect service standard, particularly; do not harm, sustainable change and respectful communities.


Denise Lloyd (MATAC Manager, Northumbria Police) spoke about the MATAC process, which is multi-agency tasking and coordination in relation to the most serious and harmful perpetrators. This was followed by Victoria Cousins (Director, Make a Change) who discussed the partnership between Respect and Women’s Aid.


The event ended with a speakers Q&A panel and an overview of the Call to Action for a Perpetrator Strategy which many organisations in the sector, including TLC: Talk, Listen, Change, are participating in to try to ensure the Domestic Abuse Bill considers the role of perpetrators in domestic abuse.