Your Role

  • It is important to be clear about your role and purpose in your relationship with any client. If you are working with someone who has been abusive in an intimate relationship, it is easy to lose this clarity.
  • You may be in a program specifically for perpetrators of abuse, in which case the guidelines should be clear from your agency.
  • You may be in a mental health or health context, where the perpetrator may be seeking help or coming for help for him/her self or as part of a couple or family.
  • You may be seeing the person as parent of a child or partner of an adult who is your client.
  • You may be working in a substance abuse or mental health setting where the client is in treatment for a concern other than violence.
  • In any case except the first, you may not know about the violence when you begin your relationship with the client.
  • If the perpetrator is your client, the challenge is to establish an empathic and trusting relationship while evaluating the current risk for serious violence and maintaining a stand for non-violence. This is much simpler if the client is distressed about his or her violence and seeking help to become non-violent.