Male IPV Perpetrator’s Perspectives on Intervention and Change: A Systematic Synthesis of Qualitative Studies

Tony McGinn, Mary McColgan, Brian Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
213 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: To add to our understanding of change processes by analyzing perpetrators’ perspectives on intervention.
Method: Fourteen databases were searched and 27 articles reporting relevant qualitative findings were identified. Analytic coding was applied across the findings and discussion sections of all 27 study reports to form an interpretive account of the data set. Studies were also grouped according to their perceived theoretical standpoints, and a summary of themes in each grouping is presented.
Findings: Study participants were largely positive about their experiences in intervention; new learning such as conflict interruption techniques and new communication skills were commonly cited benefits. Perpetrators attend perpetrator intervention programs with a range of motivations, ranging from a determination to change who they are, to a determination to avoid a custodial sentence. The most common barriers to change, found in this analysis, were cognitive distortions, emotional dysregulation, gendered social constructions, and self-esteem issues.
Conclusion: Further qualitative investigation, of rigor, with the intention-to-treat population of intimate partner violence perpetrators involved in perpetrator programs is needed. At this point, we would venture that qualitative research, with perpetrators, underlines the precept that formidable barriers to change exist in this population. The centrality of group work to perpetrator interventions should be reconsidered in light of the complexity of the change task and in light of the heterogeneity of this population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 97-112
Number of pages16
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number1
Early online date28 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • anything related to domestic violence
  • assessment
  • batterers
  • cultural contexts
  • domestic violence
  • intervention/treatment
  • violent offenders


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