Survivor perspectives of change processes in their domestically-violent partner: Systematic narrative review

Tony McGinn, Brian J Taylor, Mary McColgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


More effective work with perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV) can be built upon a betterunderstanding of how and why they change their behaviour. This article presents a systematicnarrative review of female IPV survivor perspectives on the changes brought about by IPV perpetrator programmes. Fourteen databases and web search engines were searched and sixteen articles reporting relevant qualitative findings were identified. Survivors often reported some level of positive change through their partner’s engagement with a programme, but the sustainability of this change is unclear and there was also some negative feedback. From the survivors’ perspective key barriers to perpetrator change include alcohol dependency, mental health challenges, relationship dynamics and their family of origin. Mechanisms by which perpetrators are held to account, namely survivor validation and judicial measures, were seen as central to the change process. Survivors perceived changes in perpetrator behaviour (the use of conflict interruption techniques and new communication skills) and changes in perpetrators’ belief systems (adopting new perspectives). Changes in belief systems were associated with more complete desistence from violence, and would appear more difficult to effect. The review highlights the complexity in this field, which is discussed by the authors with reference to practice, policy and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-255
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Early online date11 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • domestic violence
  • batterer
  • intervention/treatment
  • change processes
  • behaviour change


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