A problem solved is a problem created: the opportunities and challenges associated with an online domestic violence perpetrator programme

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  • 1 Newcastle University, UK
  • | 2 Durham University, UK
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Domestic violence perpetrator programmes are a frequently used intervention to respond to perpetrators of domestic violence. However, there is considerable concern about the use of ‘online’, ‘virtual’, or ‘digital’ programmes delivered remotely. Policy and practice have developed at pace through the COVID-19 pandemic and research is lacking. This exploratory research examined the challenges and opportunities associated with a pilot online programme in Minnesota, US, for court mandated men. It took place before the COVID-19 pandemic, making it the first study to investigate a ‘live’ online programme.

A mixed method design was used, consisting of 40 hours of observational data (covering 25 sessions); four interviews with programme facilitators, 12 interviews with programme observers, and six perpetrators enrolled on the programme. We did not investigate the experiences of partners or ex-partners or of partner organisations, which is a limitation.

We found that while the online format solved some long-established issues with programme delivery (for example, providing an intervention for rural communities, a lack of transport, continuity of intervention for those who travel as part of their job), different issues arose in connection to the online programme. These problems included access to necessary broadband speeds, technical hardware and a private place to participate in the sessions.

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