Helplessness, convictions and lack of opportunities versus responsibility, consequence, accessibility and stability
The biggest problems in working with perpetrators – not only in Poland – are financing, attitude and the feeling of helplessness in the face of violence (a consequence of a strong Catholic community and post-communist environment and attitudes).
As a result of these factors the need of local authorities to work systematically with people using violence is convincing. Programmes are implemented systematically in only a few centres which are usually in large cities. Small towns and villages particularly in eastern Poland are devoid of any effect on the local community in this respect, so the problems remain unresolved and victims must make their own decisions to leave home. Social services, knowing that the only solution to the problem of domestic violence is court action, act only in extreme situations. In some places, programmes for perpetrators of violence are carried out once a year and include just a few people. Centres that have staff therapists perceive their work as more meaningful and evaluate it much higher than those working only occasionally with perpetrators of domestic violence.
Experience often shows people working with offenders or making decisions about the programmes themselves are subject to violence by partners or perpetrators of violence. This experience lowers the efficiency of people working with offenders due to reduced motivation. The second problem is the lack of cooperation between the various services, e.g. police, social workers, probation officers.
When it comes to child abuse the situation is much better than partner abuse. Reporting of child abuse is more common and effective intervention rates to protect children are higher. Implementing responsible, consistent and systematic therapy with perpetrators can have effective results. To achieve this many people are required to implement a positive change by the perpetrator.
The most important task is to seek opportunities to share and disseminate information on effective action for perpetrators. It is a task which is admirably accomplished by WWP-EN in providing information on effective working standards with perpetrators.