In the context of the project “The Other Side of the Story: Perpetrators in Change (OSSPC)” the “Union of Women Associations of Heraklion Prefecture (UWAH)” conducted one focus group as part of the research into Gender Based Violence (GBV) and perpetrators analysis. The aim of this focus group was to extensively discuss and better understand how to develop perpetrator programmes to support and potentially change the behaviors.
At the focus group participated 17 professionals from all over Greece. The participants were representatives from key and well experienced frontline organizations that deal with GBV assisting victims and/ or perpetrators thereof. All participants/ stakeholders had long experience on the field, wide theoretical background and comprehensive view.
The focus group analyzed specific case studies including the topic of GBV (physical, psychological and sexual violence as well as stalking) and other related aspects, such as substances addiction. The discussion focused also on the interventions that should be implemented. Participants also discussed the guidelines and interventions regarding perpetrator programmes in order to support and help them change their violent behaviors; understanding at the same time the effects of GBV on themselves, their families and community in general.
All participants shared experiences, very openly and at a collaborative spirit. They expressed conflicting opinions, but always with respect to each other, while they highlighted the common interests for the victim and the perpetrator as well.
The main finding of the focus group is that interventions on perpetrators should entail a personalized approach, but tackling at the same time, the strong gender stereotypes, patriarchy, gender issues and toxic masculinities. Participants also raised the issue of juvenility and the role of the family in such cases.
As it was found by this focus group, in Greece, there is a need for more specialized and more effective interventions on perpetrators, as well as better cooperation by all the corresponding services (e.g. police, criminal justice system, victims support services and perpetrator programmes). (need for multiagency collaboration and coordinated actions in effect).
It has been highlighted, there is a need for changes at the legal framework due to the fact that in practice, it doesn’t protect the victims and doesn’t make perpetrators responsible/ accountable for their acts.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that, rushed by this focus group, participants expressed the will to continue the between them communication and cooperation, beyond this focus group, in order to create a more established and productive multi-agency cooperation.