In the field of domestic and family violence work, we refer to people who CHOOSE to use violence as a form of power and control over others as perpetrators. Because it is a choice. A perpetrator of domestic/family violence is 100% responsible for their choice to use violence and abuse against others.
It can be helpful to think about whether the perpetrator would habitually use violence against people outside of their immediate domestic/family sphere, for example with their employer, their pastor, their sheikh, their neighbour, their clients. More often than not we find the opposite. It’s very common for perpetrators to portray a charming, charismatic and/or victimised presentation to the outside world. This can be very deceptive, elicit pity, and reinforce myths that the woman in the relationship must be the “problem”, somehow to blame, or the cause of, the family’s unhappiness.
Some women may begin to believe these lies and blame themselves. Recognising that she is not responsible for her partner’s choice to use violence is an important step in a victim’s journey to safety.
Perpetrators make a choice to use violence against women and children. There are other, healthier choices they could be making.
Changing an entrenched habit of using power and control abusively over other human beings, a habit that is frequently replicated from generation to generation due to previous modelling, takes authentic willingness, courage, considerable effort, positive consistent actions, self-love (not of the narcissistic variety) and accountability. It’s undoubtedly hard work. But the benefits to the individual, the family and our society as a whole, are immense and instrumental in ending generational patterns of misogyny and the epidemic of domestic violence in this country.
For men who genuinely want to change their abusive behaviours, they can contact the No To Violence Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491).
Relationships Australia run behaviour change programs across Australia for men wanting to take responsibility for their use of violent, controlling or abusive behaviours (1300 364 277).
Mensline Australia is also another source of support for men who want to take responsibility for themselves and their actions (1300 78 99 78).
Without this commitment to change, and associated, committed action steps, a perpetrator’s words of remorse and well-intentioned promises, are quite often just words that do not stand the test of time and instead typically form part of the “honeymoon” phase of the cycle of violence. For more information about the cycle of violence please see here.
In order for a perpetrator’s violence to stop permanently, that perpetrator must be held accountable for taking 100% ownership and responsibility for their choice to use violence, and empowered to make new, healthier and more respectful choices.
Written by Catherine