3.4 The importance of maintaining appropriate boundaries when supporting alleged perpetrators

There are some common behaviours or experiences volunteers report when supporting alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse, which we will discuss below. Being aware of these will help you to support clients appropriately by maintaining appropriate boundaries. By this we mean being clear about what you can and cannot help clients with, and what you will and will not say. Understanding these guidelines will help you support clients appropriately whilst being aware of possible risks to yourself and the other parties involved in the court proceedings.

Activity 4

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As a volunteer when responding to counter allegations (particularly where there is the possibility that they are fabricated by an alleged perpetrator, be careful not to offer the following common (but problematic) responses.

Colluding with the abuserThis is problematic as collusion may embolden the perpetrator
Minimising or excusing his behaviour, or blaming it on the survivorThis is problematic as it is in effect taking sides and adopting a non-neutral stance
Offering ‘anger management’ solutions or programmesThis is problematic as domestic abuse is not due to anger issues; as we have learnt through these training modules, it is a systematic crime which is often due to issues around power and control
‘50:50’ responses where the survivor and perpetrator are equally blamedThis is problematic as it implies an unhealthy relationship rather than one where domestic abuse is involved
Reframing the domestic abuse into ‘family conflict’This is problematic as it implies the 50:50 response referred to above
Seeing the perpetrator as the survivorThis is problematic as if the perpetrator has persuaded you, they may be encouraged to obstruct the process believing they will get what they want

Find out more

To find out more about how some perpetrators may present as victims [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , go to this information.

3.3 Supporting alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse

3.5 Supporting Steve Smith as an alleged perpetrator of domestic abuse