“Victims are safer when their partners are provided with support to target those dynamic risk factors which contribute to creating heightened risk.”
The pilot project in London Ontario worked with 40 men who were charged with a domestic violence related offence. They were generally low-income men (75% earned less than $40,000); over half had a high school education at most; alcohol was a risk factor for 62% and drug abuse for 35%; 35% had a diagnosed mental illness and 19% more were suspected of having a mental illness by the staff.
The men in the pilot project were, overwhelmingly, isolated.
Listening, talking and offering advice was seen by the accused as the most helpful thing people did for them.
The results of the project are astounding. Compared to the control group of similar men, the men who participated in the support project re-offended far less. 25% of the project group were charged and arrested with offences compared to 55% of the control group.
This research strongly supports the approach to conflict taken by mediators. Mediators do not judge people as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Mediators work with both parties to give them each the support they need. Mediators screen both parties before starting the case to find out what support they each need to fully participate and to be safe.
The research also makes sense from a human perspective. Men charged with spousal violence are vulnerable. The men in this study in particular had great obstacles to overcome. Their isolation exacerbated those problems.
This study is an excellent illustration of the complexities of domestic violence, and the many, creative ways we can help keep victims of violence and their children safe.