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Does rehabilitation of perpetrators of violence work?

At a hearing on “Violence against women: does the rehabilitation of perpetrators work?”, Frédéric Matwies, author of the book “Il y avait un monstre en moi” related the ten years of violence – blows, humiliation, torture – which he inflicted on his ex-partner and how he escaped from this vicious circle. It was the “one blow too many”, the one that nearly killed his partner and goaded her into lodging a complaint, that made Mr Matwies decide to seek treatment. Thanks to individual and group therapy, he no longer raised his hand to anyone and recovered a normal family and social life.

Thangam Debonnaire, research officer with the association Respect (United Kingdom) described programmes intended for perpetrators of violence, whose participation in them is usually by court injunction. Ms Debonnaire stressed that these programmes are aimed primarily at guaranteeing the safety of the wives and children. She considers them fully effective when they associate both the perpetrators and the victims; the intention is to restore a relationship founded on equality and no longer on maltreatment. But the results are never immediate.

According to Rosa Logar, co-founder of Women against violence Europe (WAVE), one cannot be content to sentence culprits of violence to compulsory care alone; they must be sanctioned. Concerning assistance to victims, she also emphasised the inadequacy of the number of shelters for women in Europe.

Athina Kyriakidou (Cyprus, SOC) is currently preparing a report on “Focusing on the perpetrators to prevent violence against women”.