A series of expert consultations were held in Exchange House with service providers in November. These groups were an important tool for acquiring evidence and feedback about how to work with perpetrators of domestic violence.
In Partnership with Exchange House and Thomas Mc Cann of the Traveller Counselling service a set of focus groups were developed to look into implementing a structured programme to work with perpetrators of domestic violence.
Members of community and statutory organisations were invited to participate in these groups. The uptake was extremely good and a focus group of 13 people was formed. The aim of the group was to explore domestic abuse and devise a strategy how best to work in this area.
This group of 13 men represented the following organisations: Exchange House Youth Department, Mental Health Social Work, The Gardaí, The Traveller Counselling Service, Focus Ireland, M.O.V.E. (Men overcoming violence), Prison links, Midland Traveller Conflict Mediation Initiative, Parish of the Travelling People.
Members of the group explored links between family and relationships and cultural beliefs held within the Traveller Community around the topic of domestic abuse. Having a presence within the group the Garda was able to give an insight into the laws of Ireland in regards to domestic abuse.
The group decided it would be important that a support service could be developed to work on a one to one and group basis for people to work with men being educated and gaining an insight on domestic violence and the impacts it has on society.
A “Healthy Families” programme was identified as a concept to begin this process of working with perpetrators. This will be a 6 to 8 week programme solely for men looking into their role within their family. It will explore mental health, relationships, and family situations and will look into domestic violence and why it occurs. It will challenge participants to actively look into their lives and assist them to make positive changes. It will have a family dynamic throughout and during one of the session’s family members will be invited to come forward to speak about the impacts domestic violence has been having on their everyday life.
This programme will be led by two staff members of Exchange House, One Traveller and one non traveller. It is still in the development stage and the focus group has agreed that it will meet again on one final occasion in February 2014 to discuss the finished piece of work before it is rolled out.