Following the Panorama film broadcast on 8th October 2018 – Can violent men change?
The Youtube link to my response is here. The content of the link is below.
My name is David Eggins I work as a volunteer for the charity Temper Domestic Violence. This is my response to the Panorama film screened on 8th October 2018.
Firstly I should like to thank and pay tribute to Sibi for his enormous bravery in agreeing to expose himself to some very uncomfortable scenes and experiences and, of course, some enormous subsequent anxieties leading up to the broadcasting of the programme, all of which he has handled manfully.
Our grateful thanks also to the many guys who allowed their work to be filmed in preparation and the willing help and contributions which many offered which simply didn’t make it into the final cut.
In very correctly seeking to produce a balanced programme for the digestion of the general public there were of course very many issues which got left out, one or two minor mistakes, and perhaps some politically unmentionable things, or things which do not fit with the BBC narrative.
The mistakes first: support of victims.
We try hard to attach victims to “main-stream” victim supporters groups. But we do offer a telephone support service to those people unable to access the main stream support via accredited counsellors not linked to the organisation.
The Panorama programme wobbled a little between two abuser programmes, Phoenix in Wales and ours. Phoenix ’s completion statistics were quoted as 50%. That is excellent compared with other Duluth style programmes, the accredited ones. For example I can quote the DVIP, based in London: – “Sometimes as many as a quarter of the men make it through!” i.e 75% of the men drop out of their programme or get kicked off.
Our completion statistics were not quoted: more than 90% of men that start our programme complete it 100 % and more than 95% of very many fewer women.
We have to remember that the over-riding government strategy is: “The Prevention of Violence to Women and Girls.” In the domestic violence arena why this would exclude boys is something of a mystery or oversight – it could so easily have read “children”. You can imagine the scenario of fraternal twins, the girl to be “protected” – the boy? Not to be protected? And of course maybe that would have meant that boys had to be acceptable in refuges, and how can you possibly accept government money for Women and girls – and yet be spending it on housing the girl’s twin brother?
I’ll now talk briefly about some of the other issues. Almost inevitably they go into the realms of politics, finances, Duluth, completion statistics, Social Services, Cafcass, the range of domestic abusers, the total absence of female domestic abusers.
Finances. Lou Moultrie, the woman with the tattooed arms of The Freedom Together Programme, (which looks to be the amalgamation of Croydon Women’s Aid with Bromley Women’s Aid) bemoaned the lack of finance for her organisation. That was her take. The blogger William Collins has very carefully gathered together information about the funding of Women’s Aid and the refuge movement. You can check out his findings yourself but from my old man’s memory, the female victim supporting industry, according to his research, employed something like 7,700 women, enjoyed income of £298 million, and, from other sources, one charity could afford to pay one CEO in excess of £180,000 per annum (plus pension contributions) and still complain that bed spaces are as scarce as gold dust! According to William Collins about 11% of the income is actually spent on beds in refuges.
Collins also writes: “Averaged over the sector as a whole the cost of refuge accommodation is £77,000 per woman-year, noting that this includes an average of roughly one child per woman and also incorporates the cost of “other services” not just refuge accommodation. The size of this figure illustrates that the bulk of the funding to the DV sector is not expended on refuge accommodation, contrary to what the public might expect.”
Last year our minnow organisation had income of, in round figures, £15,000 and completed work with 43 men and one woman. Two men failed to complete the work. By the time our minuscule overheads are covered, supervision by a now retired consultant psychiatrist, room hire in which to deliver the work, insurance, telephone, travel et cetera there is not enough money to pay one person, let alone the two people needed to facilitate the work. Our estimated cost of running a project for a year is about £65,000. That demonstrates just how far below the breadline we are.
Our ambition would be to deliver a full programme of 10 courses per year in each of 5 major areas, London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Sheffield/ Leeds/Wakefield.
Another positive outcome is that we have recently written 29 reports. Of 29 reports written 18 have been “successful” thus far, 8 are pending, 3 have been not granted – 2 of those not granted involved Social Services taking children into care. 1 of the 18 successfully reported involved the father being awarded custody of a child as opposed to his child being taken into care. There have been many contacts “granted” with no report, just the production of a certificate.
Many of the men we work with are prevented from living with their families which implies additional housing costs. Many will still be supporting their families in their flats and houses, and in very many cases, honouring their responsibilities and paying child support. Those in private law cases may well be paying solicitors between £200 and £260 per hour, in 6 minute tracts. Those that are granted supervised contact, typically in a contact centre, may well face having to pay £120 per meeting. Those in private law cases will find themselves easily paying £1,000 per hearing, and one of the men we have worked with has had 42 such hearings. I have heard of others whose bills are between £60,000 and £100,000. Of course all of those costs, in very many cases, mean that there is very much less money available to the children of the family.
I would be surprised if all of the organisations delivering work with domestic abusers had a total income of £5 million between them. Compare that with the £298 million received by the refuges and Women’s Aid affiliated organisations!
Duluth – a model for working with domestic abusers.
The Duluth abuser programme forms the basis of virtually all of the “accredited” work. It is not surprising that the employees of the “accreditor”, a charity called Respect, favour that programme since they were employed by the DVIP prior to accrediting effectively their own programme, in which they will doubtless have vested interests. Our former client wrote this about them, DVIP that is . His description of his experiences with both the DVIP and Social Services match what we hear time and time again.
On a BBC radio Northampton programme Neil Blacklock at that time of DVIP/ Respect stated: “Sometimes as many as a quarter of the men, make it through the programme”. You can hear the “obstacle course” in the language of that.
Before a select committee of the Home Office the then CEO of the DVIP quoted these costs to “turn a man around” which you can read in the transcript linked here. 33 men completed the DVIP programme that year at an expenditure of £219,000. The CEO claimed a success rate of 70%. That would mean just 22 men of the 230 that contacted the organisation. An effective completion? Virtually £10,000, by his claim. The figure he quoted, based on referrals versus cost, essentially turned 198 men round and walked them back out of the door at just over £1,000 each!
In private law cases what are the costs to the abuser for these Duluth –style “power and control” programmes to “hold the men accountable”? 32 weekly sessions of about 2 ½ hours each cost between £60 and £80 per session. £270 – £300 per month, for nine months, plus travel.
The academic, Dr Gene Feder very rightly pointed out that ignoring perpetrators ignored the upstream problems. “The problem is”, he said, “We do not have secure evidence they are effective in bringing about changes. But if you just respond to survivors you are in some ways just colluding with the cycle of violence.”
In 2011 Cinical Psychologist Dr Louise Dixon took the “accreditor”, Respect, to task, drawing attention to their underlying feminist ideology and the lack of an evidence base for the work they were insisting on. She called for the accreditation to be abandoned. Elsewhere she also wrote that there was no criminological need for female abusers to have separate courses.
In 2012 the Centre for Social Justice produced a paper calling for the current programmes to be scrapped and the fresh start to be made. “When something is not working ….” This was essentially what happened with the IDAP programme, accredited and run by the Probation Service – it was also a Duluth model!
In 2014 the Ministry of Justice highlighted the ineffectiveness of the Duluth model, pointing to much better outcomes from other models, but models which were not numerous enough to provide an alternative.
(In Britain those other models have been very carefully screened out by RESPECT, and everything accredited is essentially forced to deliver what Respect considers to be okay!)
The evidence against the effectiveness of the current accredited work is all there. Persisting with it is really colluding with creating an ongoing cycle of domestic violence. In whose best interest is that? Certainly not the children’s, nor the males and females involved!
Obviously from the MOJ point of view and Cafcass it is better to persist with something which you know doesn’t work as opposed to trying to find out something that might work! Cafcass continues to spend your tax money and my tax money supporting programmes which are demonstrably ineffective. Four years have passed since that MOJ paper was published, recognising that ineffectiveness.
One wonders on what basis they persist in the face of this? Is this another “Kids Company?” or another “Broken Rainbow?”
Figures surrounding domestic violence:
There is no doubt that women’s overall experience of domestic violence is, on average, worse than men’s. But when we take the child’s perspective Dad’s domestic violence is no more dangerous than mum’s. The fact that Dad’s behaviours towards Mum might be more serious is in part confounded by the fact that Mum’s to Dad will be much more chronic, and, faced with the children more often it is much more likely to involve the children than Dad’s, which is why there is so much current interest by Dads in the Parental Alienation agenda! Why would this be? Because Mums spend much more time looking after children than Dad’s in very many cases.
Mums also kill more children than Dads and stepdads combined!
But what of the overall statistics?
Much more than 20% (Womens Aid’s claim) of domestic violence is by women! Before hearing of The Phoenix project as far as I knew we were the only organisation delivering work in groups with female domestic abusers. Our figures for female abusers have dropped from between 10% and 15% of our clients in 2004 to about 2%, this despite the fact that since our inception in 1995 female violence to men has reportedly increased by over 400%.
So just what’s going on?
The bit which is our responsibility. We don’t have the money to advertise directly for female abusers. When female abusers come into contact with the authorities they are immediately sent on the Freedom Programme, for victims of domestic violence. How insidious is that!
If you want a good, accurate breakdown of the percentages of domestic violence abusers this Canadian professor , Dr Tonia Nicholls will give it to you straight.
All the narrative talk in the media is about “intimate terrorists,” “coercive controllers”. Johnson’s statistics illustrate seven men per thousand being intimate terrorists prior to separation and five women per thousand being intimate terrorists prior to separation. Post separation the figure for men escalates enormously to 22% and the figure for women escalates greatly to 4.7%. It is recognised that often the most serious behaviours occur post separation. The above figures would illustrate that. The most likely cause for the catastrophic changes in those figures is exacerbated by the adversarial nature of the family court system which encourages “fighting” and “winning and losing” and additionally results in enormous losses, financial as we have heard and in the raising of the emotions of grief, disgust and anger with all of the various resultant situations.
Not surprisingly children very often become the “pawns” in these often highly conflictual situations which tend very strongly to be the cases we see. (I believe that in the much wider picture the vast majority of couples with children manage to accommodate the children’s needs and rights to contact with both parents usually reasonably amicably.)
The vast majority of domestic abuse concerns “situational couple violence”. Research by Prof John Archer, Louise Dixon and many, many others, you can read the extensive list in the ADVIP website, highlights that the main problem for the vast majority of people is going to be about coping with some of the many “situations” in which people and couples find themselves. In the vast majority of cases the research says it is women that start those “situations” with their discontent , justified and unjustified, about “everything”. That would imply a great deal of couple counselling. But not as far as the women’s movement would have it! Women’s Aid and Refuge will claim that couple counselling is dangerous for women – and effectively they nullified Relate’s couple counselling contribution in about 2004 – that also “cost” Relate about 50,000 lost clients per year! (Relate’s service would not have been available to most of the general population that need it because of cost implications. Very many couples would simply not have been able to afford it.)
Opportunities for learning together, as was so clearly stated by the woman of the couple in the film, is very likely to be the best way forward for the vast majority of people. Intervention – coming between and separating – is likely to raise much worse behaviours than already existed. There are other much more specific criticisms that need to be made; I’ll make those at a later date.
Early, individually focussed, effective and collaborative work is essentially what is needed. Again I’ll explain this in much more detail later.
Just why are there no courses for female abusers?
The answers are simple. The current “nuanced” agenda, the narrative, as opposed to the bigger picture, says all women are victims of the male patriarchy. (For greater insight into this you could watch the interview by Kathy Newman of Prof Jordan Peterson.) If all women are victims then all men are perpetrators. Notice the choice of words:
Victim/perpetrator. Guilty of a crime, upon accusation!
If women were to be recognised as abusers, as some very clearly are, that would turn the simplicity of that narrative on its head!
Prior to separation 7 men per 1,000. Prior to separation 5 women per 1,000! 7/12ths versus 5/12ths!
Can violent men change? Given the opportunity a high percentage can. They cannot do it with the Duluth Programme – the evidence is there! I repeat: They cannot do it with the Duluth programme. The evidence is there. But that is exactly what Respect seeks to market, to accredit and it seeks to impose. Respect will of course deny this, saying they are not wedded to one programme. Their problem is they know of nothing better and for the last 18 years they have been determined to exclude anything which looked to have any “positive promise”.
When you put all your eggs in one basket and that basket doesn’t hold you are left with raw scrambled eggs – those are the men that are failed by the programmes which the accreditor seeks to impose. By failing to engage with the abusive men (and abusive women!) and undertake meaningful work with them children and families are failed – and we, the country, have a basket case!
And those violent women? In the current feminist narrative they do not even exist!
And the implications of that for child protection? For Social Services? For Cafcass?
Finally I’d like to express our admiration of and gratitude to Katie Hindley and her team at Rogan Productions for the enormous effort and patience involved in filming probably at least 170 hours of our work, and of attending 4 courses, one to take part so that she could experience the impact of the work on individuals and also gain insights into how it might be filmed and what some of the enormous issues are. Another course was used to practise filming and two other courses were largely filmed. Her patience and dedication and sheer good humour and determination in the production of what we see as a well-balanced programme, albeit depicting the plight of a very small range of the many men she has seen who have been involved with us in this kind of work. That was our experience of the film production. There was then, of course, additionally her involvement with all of the other contributors.
You can find the vast majority of the text of this recording on our website www.temper.me.uk under the page marked Panorama. References I mention can be linked to from there. Thank you for listening – and / or reading.