Working with motivation and resistance

When working with your clients in some cases domestic abuse may become evident to you, and this could happen in a range of different ways for example; the victim or the children may disclose abuse, you may witness behaviour or injuries which cause concern, the perpetrator may demonstrate some rigid and controlling views. In the first instance the priority must always be to ensure you safeguard the victim and children following your own companies polices. However you may feel directing the perpetrator into an intervention of work to address their abusive behaviour would be a good strategy. You will need to be prepared for a level of minimisation, denial and/or blame from the perpetrator. They may become defensive and you also have to be careful not to expose the victim/children to anymore danger.

Some ways of dealing with avoidance from the perpetrator is to actively listen to them and their perspective, support them to feel heard and not judged. However it is important to challenge blame, denial and minimisation for example if they use language such as “it was only a little slap”, reflect back to them “so you slapped her”. Try to focus them on their own behaviour and not to focus on the actions of other for example if they say “well it was all her fault really, she kept winding me up”, it useful to clearly point out to them that as individuals we are all responsible for our own actions, regardless of how other people make us feel.

The DVPP programme is able to offer a level of support to clients prior to them commencing the group to try and increase their level of motivation to engage. It is useful to talk to your client about the advantages of attending a programme such as the DVPP when considering a referral – get them to identify what they think the benefits would be for them. This may include things like: a healthier relationship with their partner, a better relationship with their children, a lower risk of being arrested/ involved with criminal justice services, will make them feel better about themselves etc. Remind them it is a voluntary programme and it is ultimately their ‘choice’ , they are not being forced to attend, and this may also help to reduce some resistance to being referred.

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