Two men talking

They Matter: An intervention service

As part of our offer to families experiencing conflict, violence and abuse within intimate and close relationships across Cumbria, Victim Support’s Turning the Spotlight (TTS) project has developed a pilot service for those who have been identified as high-risk/high harm perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Programme details

They Matter is predominantly a group work programme for a maximum of 12 participants.

The programme comprises three modules with seven sessions in each module. They are:

  • Relationships – General awareness
  • Relationships – Self-awareness
  • Relationships – Skills for positive change

One to one sessions

Each module (beginning with module 1) is preceded by a one to one session to prepare individuals for the subjects and tools explored in each module.  One to one sessions provide an important opportunity to  consolidate learning, discuss any issues that the participant does not wish to share in front of other group members, and provide opportunities to monitor and manage risk.

Programme style

Group work sessions are highly participatory. Sessions, tools and activities in this programme have been designed to incorporate key aspects of supportive challenge through using a psychologically informed approach. This is done by using tools that link with education, self-awareness and motivation eg Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC), Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and promoting critical dialogue.

A victim-focused service

TTS, like many services working with high risk/high harm perpetrators, ally firmly with victims of domestic abuse. The primary task of the service is to maximise the safety of both adults and children experiencing harm caused by high risk/high harm perpetrators of domestic abuse. Safety is the key principle upon which the service is built. In order to achieve this, TTS work transparently, and within clear boundaries outlined below.

Who is the programme suitable for?

They Matter is designed for heterosexual male perpetrators of domestic abuse, identified as causing or likely to be causing high risk/high harm within their families/relationships. The programme is suitable where the following criteria have been met:

  • The individual is aged 18 or over
  • The individual accepts that they have responsibility (at least some) for abusive actions and has a willingness to explore their behaviour in relationships
  • The individual acknowledges that their behaviour is causing/has caused harm to those closest to them
  • The individual accepts that TTS operate within the context of partnership working and has read, accepted and signed the partnership agreement and information sharing protocol.

Who is the programme not suitable for?

They Matter will not be suitable for everyone and consideration will always be given to the safety of the victim(s) and the other participants enrolled in They Matter. They Matter is a group work programme and therefore all actions have impacts or consequences on others. The following criteria outline who the programme is not suitable for.

  • Individuals who are in complete denial regarding their abusive behaviour and accept no responsibility for their actions despite strengths based/motivational interventions
  • Individuals who are unwilling to sign the information sharing agreement and do not agree to the release of information as a condition for participation in the programme.
  • Individuals with severe learning/literacy difficulties that would impact their ability to participate.

While a range of learning materials are supplied, including visual and audio formats, materials are currently not available in all learning mediums, (eg braille). TTS endeavour to provide learning support where possible, and particularly where the issue may be one of confidence in ability.

  • Individuals whose first language is not English and where their command of English is not sufficient enough to enable them to fully participate.

Whilst TTS would strive to use interpretation services when working with individuals, They Matter is a group work programme unsuitable for the presence of interpreters. Interpretation services would lengthen the process unacceptably for other members of the group, as well as breach their confidentiality.

  • Individuals who are currently using substances without addiction support and intervention.

While substance abuse does not automatically preclude someone, if it is likely that it will affect their attendance and participation in the programme, it must be addressed before They Matter can be offered as an intervention. Where drug and alcohol services are currently involved with an individual, TTS will seek to work in partnership with them to ensure interventions are co-ordinated and information exchanged.

  • Individuals who, following assessment by TTS, are deemed not to meet the threshold for High Risk in relation to DASH/SARA (confirmed by victim assessment/information), and who are willing to engage with the healthy relationship programme.