Changing attitudes is key to ending domestic violence

25 Nov 2022
Ingeus is supporting White Ribbon Day today, championing the call to prevent violence against women and girls. Carrie Peters, Director of Operations for Ingeus' Justice Services, talks about how Ingeus is playing its part in tackling domestic violence.

Today marks White Ribbon Day, an awareness campaign focusing on preventing violence against women and girls. As this year’s campaign day falls in the week of the launch of the FIFA World Cup, there’s a football-related theme: #TheGoal. Men and boys are being encouraged to adopt 11 traits – each representing a player in a football team – to promote safety and equality for women and girls. The traits are: Caring, Empathetic, Reflective, Gentle, Courageous, Resilient, Reliable, Hopeful, Principled, Supportive, Ally.

White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging with men and boys to end violence against women and girls. Changing the attitudes that perpetuate gender inequality is vital if we are to end the scourge of violence. 

Ingeus provides a range of Commissioned Rehabilitative Services (CRS) to help break the cycle of crime, including domestic violence. This is a crime that often goes unreported, but the victims are far more likely to be female than male. According to the most recent research by the Office for National Statistics, the victim was female in 73 per cent of domestic abuse-related crimes.

One of the key strands of our CRS is the Personal Wellbeing Service, a holistic service delivered to men aged 18 and over who are on probation. Experienced advisors offer one-to-one support to help service users turn their lives around. As well as addressing their emotional wellbeing, our advisors also take each service user’s overall lifestyle into account, including their relationship with family and friends. 

Since its launch in June 2021, our team of over 100 Personal Wellbeing Advisors and Mentors have worked with more than 10,000 people on probation across the West Midlands, East Midlands, the North East, and West Yorkshire/Humberside regions. 

While many of our interventions do not directly tackle the circumstances or impact of domestic abuse, they are designed to encourage men to reflect upon and recognise the impact of their thoughts and subsequent actions. The men can then learn to make positive changes to the way they see themselves and engage with those around them. This is fundamental to changing abusive and violent behaviour.
We work with our partner, Pact, who bring a wealth of experience working with men released from prison who may need extra support to resettle back into family life. This can be a challenging time for the men and their families and, in recognition of that, we aim to develop communication skills, perspective taking and empathy to avoid potential clashes during this period of readjustment. 

One course that is having a profound impact on our service users is Managing Me, a series of six modules designed to improve self-reflection and self-management. It has helped the men to develop tools and mechanisms they can use whenever they feel stressed or anxious, or are struggling to communicate. The modules cover understanding worry and stress, how thoughts affect emotions, the impact of beliefs on feelings and behaviour, resilience and overcoming adversity, monitoring wellbeing, and exploring learning. 

Each module has been designed with trauma informed practice at its heart and can be run in a one-to-one or group format. Group sessions encourage the participant to open up about their emotions. Sharing their experiences with others helps them to recognise that they are not alone in their journey towards resilience.
One participant, Lee, recently completed the first three modules. He said he was feeling stressed and would on occasion use alcohol as a coping mechanism. Lee also admitted that he would sometimes lose his temper and wanted support with this. Speaking to his advisor after his third session, Lee said: “I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol since completing the workshops, I would recommend them to anyone. I feel so different, and my wife and children have seen a massive difference.”
Finally, it is important to recognise the importance of awareness for our young adult participants. In recent years, research from the ONS has shown that younger age groups are typically more likely to experience domestic abuse. Our Transition to Adulthood intervention engages young adults in discussion around topics including domestic violence. In this session, participants learn about abusive behaviours such as coercion and gaslighting and then contrast these with positive behaviours such as listening, communication and respect.

Changing long-held attitudes and belief systems is key to stopping violence against women and girls. Whether you’re a football fan or not, let’s all get behind White Ribbon and embrace #TheGoal today!

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