The presenting issue of domestic abuse perpetrators who access your service may not be directly linked with domestic abuse. For example: a perpetrator seeing their GP for depression symptoms may not talk about using abusive behaviours and the subsequent break down in the relationship; the GP will, therefore, be none the wiser, unless they receive information about their patient’s use of domestic abuse. Or, a perpetrator seeing a Counsellor about a ‘mid-life crisis’ may focus entirely on their own feelings of, for example, not having achieved what they were aiming in their career, rather than using domestic abuse.
A practitioner in a service that is not domestic abuse specific, may receive information about their service user as a perpetrator in the following ways.
3. By observing how a service-user talks about their relationship
Perpetrators tend to talk about their partners using unkind language and blaming them for everything that’s gone wrong in the relationship. You can also think about their motivation for speaking with you: victims want to recover, perpetrators want revenge.
These are some examples of the tone of language and motivation perpetrators often present with:
- They are insistent on you taking action on their behalf to change their partner’s behaviour – prioritising this over their own help-seeking
- They talk about child contact as if it is their right, prioritising their own needs, without any apparent understanding of the focus being on the children
- They speak about past offences or current criminal or civil proceedings against them, possibly arguing they are unfairly brought, often referring to a conspiracy against them
Once you have established that the service user is perpetrating domestic abuse, or you suspect it, you can engage with them on that issue, so you can signpost or refer appropriately.
For more information, contact the Respect Phoneline.