While their behaviors are concerning and harmful, people who use violence are also parents and loved ones with whom children are likely to have life-long relationships. Working with those who commit violence (also referred to as perpetrators) can help caseworkers gain an understanding of the risks to their children, their relationships with their children, and their potential willingness to make changes to keep their children safe. Being able to effectively engage those who use violence can help to reinforce nonviolent behavior, increase awareness of the impact, and encourage them to cease committing violence.
Engaging people who use violence against their partner, a caregiver, or other family members is especially important when the person has ongoing contact with the family unit. Caseworkers can strive to make the relationship as healthy and safe as possible for everyone involved. The following resources provide information on working with and engaging family members who use violence.
Approaching the Subject of Violence: A Response-Based Approach to Working With Men Who Have Abused Others
Todd, Weaver-Dunlop, & Ogden (2014)
Violence Against Women, 20(9)
Outlines a response-based approach to working with violent men that focuses on the language used in the way the perpetrator represents his own actions and talks about what he has done. This article presents a list of six key ideas on engaging with men who commit violence.
Changing Systems & Practice to Improve Outcomes for Young Fathers, Their Children & Their Families (PDF - 6,928 KB)
Center for the Study of Social Policy
Offers recommendations on creating a father-inclusive culture to help child welfare agencies and child protection organizations serving young fathers and their families. It includes information on working with men who have committed intimate partner violence and on ensuring the relationship between fathers and children is supported in cases where it is safe for the children and the mother.
Creating Opportunities for Safety and Change in Supervised Visitation Programs: A Policy Framework for Engaging Men Who Use Violence (PDF - 1,215 KB)
Rose & McNamara (2015)
Inspire Action for Social Change & Futures Without Violence
Presents a framework designed to help professionals involved with supervised visitation build an effective approach to engaging with men who use violence. It includes a section on creating opportunities for healthy engagement with men who use violence and on how professionals can help motivate men to change.
Domestic Violence and the Child Welfare Professional: Tips on Engaging Families (PDF - 104 KB)
Capacity Building Center for States
Offers a tip sheet that supports child welfare caseworkers responding to cases of domestic violence and child maltreatment. The guide includes tips for working with survivors and engaging and supporting perpetrators.
Futures Without Violence
Explains how child protective services systems may struggle to balance engaging fathers with rigorous risk assessment and individualized case planning for domestic violence survivors. The webpage presents considerations for effectively engaging fathers who use violence and strategies for working with them.
Fathers for Change: A New Approach to Working With Fathers Who Perpetrate Intimate Partner Violence
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 41(1)
Describes the Fathers for Change intervention for working with men who have children under 10 and a history of violence against an intimate partner. The treatment involves individual sessions with the men along with coparenting sessions for both parents. Engaging with men individually allows fathers to focus on the way they were parented, how their childhood experiences affect their parenting, and the type of parent they want to be.
Healing and Supporting Fathers: Principles, Practices, and Resources for Fatherhood Programs to Help Address and Prevent Domestic Violence (PDF - 32,987 KB)
Arean, Davis, Wasik, Scott, Laurore, & Merritt (2020)
Futures Without Violence, Child Trends, & Boston Medical Center
Provides principles, practices, and helpful resources for addressing and preventing intimate partner violence in fatherhood programs, including ways to engage fathers.
Preventing and Addressing Intimate Violence When Engaging Dads (PAIVED): Challenges, Successes, and Promising Practices From Responsible Fatherhood Programs
Karberg, Parekh, Scott, Areán, Kim, Laurore, Hanft et al. (2020)
Child Trends, Futures Without Violence, & Boston Medical Center
Identifies promising practices on engaging fathers in the prevention of and response to intimate partner violence.
Working With Men As Parents: Becoming Father-Inclusive to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes in Domestic Violence Cases (PDF - 977 KB)
Mandel & Rankin (2018)
Ohio Intimate Partner Violence Collaborative
Explains how a father-inclusive approach to working with men in child welfare and child protection can lead to the implementation of domestic violence-informed practice. When child welfare and related professionals increase their knowledge and skills related to working with all fathers, their skills and confidence in working with perpetrators of violence also grow.
Working With Perpetrators of Abuse
Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness
Discusses preferred terms for those who are abusive to someone else (rather than "perpetrator" or "abuser") and outlines steps to take when working with someone who uses violence.
Working With Perpetrators of Domestic Violence [Video]
Discusses how professionals can work with perpetrators of domestic violence and what supports are available for those who use violence against their partners.