Safeguarding adults: Mediation and family group conferences
Working with domestic abuse - Participation of an alleged abuser
There is much debate as to whether an alleged abuser should be included in mediation or an FGC (Daybreak 2011; Knowlton and Muhlhauser 1994). Mediators and FGC coordinators should consider three main questions when deciding whether to include an alleged perpetrator:
- Does the victim want the alleged perpetrator to be included?
- Does the victim intend to maintain a relationship with the alleged perpetrator?
- Does the alleged perpetrator acknowledge the abuse and do they want to make changes?
If the answer to all of these questions is yes, mediators and FGC coordinators should consider how to safely include the person in the process (Daybreak 2011). The alleged victim may feel well supported by their family or support network, but the alleged perpetrator may have no support. Even if the alleged perpetrator is willing to address their behaviour, they may feel shame and isolation. They may be vulnerable, and their behaviour may be linked to mental health problems, a learning disability or alcohol problems. This is frequently the case in situations of elder abuse where the alleged perpetrator is a son or daughter of the alleged victim. The victim may feel protective of the alleged perpetrator and may want the mediation or FGC to address the support needed for them (Daybreak 2011).
The mediator or FGC coordinator should consider whether the perpetrator would benefit from having a supporter or advocate present to help them to participate.
If a mediator or FGC coordinator believes that a participant’s rights cannot be adequately protected, they should consider suspending or terminating the session. Participants should be referred to a relevant community or other professional resource for help and support.