Changing for Good
The primary role of specialist family violence services is to confront and address violence.
To ensure this work is effective, specialist supports are usually embedded in the community response to family violence. Inter-agency protocols are established to appropriately manage safety and risk – for men who use violence, and those experiencing their violence.
Because many men choose not to address their behaviour, even when offered with opportunities for change, inter-agency responses can be tailored to meet the needs of those affected accordingly – such as developing new risk management and safety planning arrangements.
Men’s behaviour change programs (MBCPs) will also seek to support the partners and family members of those experiencing violence. As Changing for Good does, these programs recognise the importance of including the voices of those effected by violence in the work with men. For some of these women and children, this might be the first time they have had contact with a family violence or support service. Thus, a referral to a MBCP may lead to women getting the support they also need.
Specialist services for men who use violence have sound understandings of the complex gender and power dynamics operating where family violence is occurring.
Specialist services are well placed to make often complex decisions about what is needed to address the violence. For instance, men may have co-occurring substance abuse issues which may elevate risk but may also need to be addressed before the man is ready to address other aspects of his behaviour. Similar complexity can arise where men are facing mental health problems. These specialist services can support men while continuing to monitor risk and safety.
Specialist services for men who use violence have sound understandings of the complex gender and power dynamics operating where family violence is occurring. So, while issues such as stress and anger management, or histories of personal trauma may be important to address in assisting with changing behaviour, they are not understood as the ‘cause’ of violence and thus accountability for violence remains in the choices the man is making.
Specialist services play a critical role in engagement, motivation and behaviour change success.
Wherever possible health professionals should seek to refer to local specialist men’s and women’s family violence support services.