It’s International Women’s Day, and we’re focusing on the ways survivors (the majority of whom are women) are centred and supported in perpetrator work. Whilst changing perpetrators’ behaviour is an important part of perpetrator programmes, the main aim is always to increase the safety & freedom of survivors.

That’s why Integrated Support Services (ISS) are a vital part of perpetrator work. An ISS is a separate, specialist service for survivors, which works in parallel with a perpetrator intervention to support the survivor and ensure their safety is not compromised by the intervention. ISS workers give survivors emotional support and help them to plan for their own safety by monitoring risk and keeping them informed about their partner or ex-partner’s engagement with the perpetrator programme.

As with any group accessing a service, each survivor will have their own hopes around the outcomes of the perpetrator programme, and this means “success” can look different for each survivor. If they are choosing to stay in their current relationship, it’s seeing a reduction and ideally an end to the abuse. For others, it can be safely leaving a relationship without post-separation abuse, or having better post-separation parenting arrangements. It doesn’t always mean staying together, and the ISS is there to support survivors as they make these decisions.

Caroline (not her real name) whose partner accessed the Make a Change programme, had already left the home she shared with her partner when the programme began. She had been in the relationship for over ten years and wasn’t sure whether she wanted it to end permanently. As part of the programme, she was offered support from SoLDAS, which helped her to reflect on the relationship and build her independence. Ultimately, she decided it was best for her to permanently end the relationship. She said,

“The most important thing was being heard. I didn’t feel like I could talk to my family and friends about what was going on. It was very isolating. The support helped me realise how bad things had got… It helped me break away, stop contact with him and move on with my life.”

At Respect, we know how important this support is - both for the survivor’s wellbeing & their safety planning, which is why the Respect Standard requires services to offer separate, parallel support for survivors alongside any perpetrator intervention. To achieve accreditation, a service must show that its ISS:

  • Assesses and manages risks including harm posed by the perpetrator and responds quickly to changes in risk
  • Offers safety planning 
  • Gives survivors information about the perpetrator intervention, including what the perpetrator programme includes and realistic expectations for behaviour change 
  • Provides emotional support
  • Updates the survivor on the perpetrator’s engagement with the intervention
  • Advocates for the survivor where required

To learn more about Respect accreditation and the role of the ISS, take a look at the Respect Standard.

Respect is a registered charity in England and Wales, number 1141636, in Scotland, number SC051284 and a company, number 7582438. Registered address: VAI Second Floor, 200a Pentonville Road, London N1 9JP
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