"It saved my marriage and my family life!" - Voice of the abuser
"It saved my marriage and my family life!" Those are the words of Simon (not his real name) who has been receiving help from the domestic abuse support charity Splitz Support Service, after physically abusing his wife.
Wiltshire Police's domestic abuse awareness campaign, which we are currently running with support from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Wiltshire Council, Swindon Borough Council, Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SWA) and Splitz Support Service, focuses on the abuser and what help is available to them as well as their victims.
Simon, who lives in Wiltshire with his wife and two children, first noticed his destructive behaviour towards his wife after his children were born.
He said: "Looking back, I can now see that I was quite passive aggressive - often mentally abusive and controlling in my behaviour. That's just the way I had always been.
"When my children were very young and I was working long hours I was always tired and grumpy and then one day, sitting in our car, I lost control and hit my wife in the stomach.
"A few weeks later it happened again - I grabbed her and went to throw her to the floor - luckily I caught her before she hit it. It was then I realised I needed help.
"My wife told me I had to move out of the home for a while but she supported me to seek help, and that's when I contacted Splitz Support Service."
Simon took part in the charity's Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme, teaching him how to cope with his emotions and change his behaviour. He is now working with the charity to help others who have abused and is also an advocate for the organisation - telling his story from his perspective to help other agencies understand the actions of perpetrators.
He adds: "I've been working with Splitz Support Service for a number of years now - they helped me change my behaviour and so now I am helping others to change theirs.
"Splitz saved my marriage - thanks to their help I am still with my wife and still have my children.
"It's taken me a lot of time and effort to get to where I am now - but I now have coping mechanisms when I start getting stressed. I've not only learnt to cope with situations but I now behave differently thanks to the tools I have been given to help me change."
Advice to others
He admits that a perpetrator has to know and understand the benefits of changing and then want to change before they can - it's the first step: "It's a bit like being an alcoholic - you've got to understand that your behaviour isn’t normal or ok and that you've got a problem before you can get help.
"Hopefully, this latest campaign will help perpetrators recognise their behaviour is wrong and so will get help."
Det Insp Helen Clarke said: "I want to thank Simon for his honesty and admitting when he needed help.
"Domestic abuse affects both sides of a relationship - the victim and the perpetrator. We want to be able to support both.
"If you are the abuser in the relationship, consider your actions and please seek help.
"If you are the victim, please remember help is available to stop this abuse from continuing."
Claire Marshall, Splitz Support Service CEO, said: "It takes a lot of courage to speak out and say, I was that person, I did abuse my partner. It takes even more courage to seek help and do the work to understand why those behaviours came about and commit to positive change. By talking about his experience, Simon is helping more people understand that support is available, and if participants are willing to change, it can and does work.
"The Perpetrator Behaviour Programme that he took part in is an important part of the work of Splitz Support Service. We support thousands of people dealing with domestic abuse and sexual violence and we also have programmes which work to address the reasons for abuse in the first place, helping to support people and families to have safe, healthy relationships in future.
"Through his openness, Simon is helping more people to understand their behaviour and to seek help. More importantly he is building a great new future for him and his family."
Martin Parker, OPCC Commissioning Manager for criminal justice and re-offending, said: “Specialist perpetrator change programmes can be life-changing for victims, offenders and children in the home.
“Simon's story highlights the positive impact of these programmes and the role they play in working with perpetrators to change their behaviour and prevent further instances of abuse from happening.
“It shouldn’t be down to victims to do all the hard work to keep themselves safe and for too long the onus has been on victims of domestic abuse to escape their abusers.
“We need to continue refocusing the conversation and put the responsibility to change firmly in the hands of the abuser.”
Help is at hand
Those with concerns about domestic abuse are encouraged to contact police on 101, via our website or 999 in an emergency.
Alternatively, people in Wiltshire (outside of Swindon) who want to come forward for support can contact Splitz on 01225 775 776 Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm.
SWA is available 24/7 for Swindon on 01793 610610 and out of hours for the rest of Wiltshire.
There is also the Wiltshire Emergency Duty Service which is available on 0300 456 0100 - again out of hours.
For general support, the 24/7 national Domestic Abuse helpline is available 0808 2000 247.