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“We adapted because we had to.” How domestic violence perpetrator programmes adapted to work under COVID-19 in the UK, the USA and Australia

Bellini, Rosanna and Westmarland, Nicole (2023) '“We adapted because we had to.” How domestic violence perpetrator programmes adapted to work under COVID-19 in the UK, the USA and Australia.', Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research .


Purpose - This study explores responses by domestic violence perpetrator programme providers of three Western countries (UK, US, and AU) to the COVID- 19 pandemic and population movement control measures on their practice. The goal of this work was to offer an evidence base for changes to programme and intervention delivery around domestic violence to sustain integrity of safe, effective working practices with perpetrators, survivors, and staff. Design/methodology/approach - Based on 36 semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted July to September 2020, the authors mapped the experiences of changes in service with frontline staff, managers, and sector-wide representatives. Findings - The findings focus on how providers of Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes (DVPPs) adapted to the increase in referrals and workload that had a positive impact on service delivery innovation but an adverse impact on staff wellbeing. Digital services were reported to be adopted into mainstream approaches but introduced new barriers to service access and group dynamics. Integrated safety support for survivors, if not adequately connected to programmes pre-pandemic, risked being disconnected from DVPP that may undermine positive programme outcomes. Originality/value - The paper provides a documentation of changes in DVPPs, and a cross-comparison of services across three Western countries during the first wave of COVID-19. The work offers implications of the development of digital modes of service delivery for DVPPs and highlights the need for focus on resource management and integration of safety services for survivors in DVPP services.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0.
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Publisher statement:This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact
Date accepted:14 July 2022
Date deposited:14 July 2022
Date of first online publication:17 February 2023
Date first made open access:14 April 2023

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