The domestic abuse conversation needs to be refocused with responsibility to change put firmly in the hands of the perpetrator, according to Martin Parker of Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner office.
“It shouldn’t be down to victims to do all the hard work to keep themselves safe and for too long the onus has been on victims of domestic abuse to escape their abusers.”
Speaking during a domestic abuse awareness campaign spearheaded by Wiltshire Police, Parker, who is the office’s commissioning manager for criminal justice and re-offending, commented: “Specialist perpetrator change programmes can be life-changing for victims, offenders and children in the home.”
As a domestic abuser known as Simon for the campaign said: “It saved my marriage and my family life … and I still have my children.”
The father-of-two said: “Looking back, I can now see that I was quite passive aggressive, often mentally abusive and controlling in my behaviour. That’s just the way I had always been.
“When my children were very young and I was working long hours I was always tired and grumpy and then one day, sitting in our car, I lost control and hit my wife in the stomach.
“A few weeks later it happened again: I grabbed her and went to throw her to the floor. Luckily, I caught her before she hit it. It was then I realised I needed help.
“My wife told me I had to move out of the home for a while but she supported me to seek help.”
That included taking part in the domestic violence perpetrator programme run by Trowbridge-headquartered Splitz Support Service to learn how to cope with his emotions and change his behaviour.
“It’s taken me a lot of time and effort to get to where I am now, but I now have coping mechanisms when I start getting stressed. I’ve not only learnt to cope with situations but I now behave differently thanks to the tools I have been given to help me change.”
But it is not easy, as Splitz CEO Claire Marshall says. “It takes a lot of courage to speak out and say, ‘I was that person. I did abuse my partner.’
“It takes even more courage to seek help and do the work to understand why those behaviours came about and commit to positive change.”
Wiltshire Police is running the campaign with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, Splitz, Wiltshire County Council, Swindon Borough Council and Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service.