Over three years ago I had the pleasure of coordinating one the most interesting and exciting projects funded under the European Commission programme Daphne III entitled “IMPACT: Evaluation of European Perpetrator Programmes”. The main aim of the IMPACT project was to enhance and harmonise the outcome monitoring of European programmes for male perpetrators of domestic violence. As knowledge about the evaluation of such initiatives in Europe was not deep enough, IMPACT’s project team, consisting of seven organisations from five European countries, strived to fill this knowledge gap and offer solutions towards a harmonisation of perpetrator programme monitoring.
The project was of both an analytical and practical character and aimed to a) map the European perpetrators programmes, their characters and activities as well as their methods of outcome monitoring, b) analyse European studies regarding perpetrator programme evaluations, but also c) propose a future pathway for organising outcome evaluation studies of such initiatives in Europe and d) design an evaluation toolkit that can be used by managers and practitioners working with male perpetrators of domestic violence, the main goal of which is to offer instruments to directly evaluate – without the need for major scientific support – reductions in abusive behaviour and/or to indirectly evaluate (proxy) variables related to reductions in abuse. By the end of 2014, all the project objectives had been completed and were presented during the 1st European Congress on the Evaluation of Programmes for Perpetrators of Domestic Violence, organised by Associació Conexus and held in Barcelona, Spain in October the same year.
Along with the project’s coordination, I was engaged in research activities for one of the workstreams, the primarily goal of which was to identify evaluation models and instruments that can be applicable in different European countries and socio-cultural contexts and to investigate the possibilities of a centralised collection and analysis of comparable outcome data. The results of our work were published in the working paper “Possibilities for multi-site/multicountry European evaluation studies on domestic violence perpetrator programmes”, authored by Christian Scambor & Elli Scambor from Verein für Männer- und Geschlechterthemen Steiermark and me, as well as in a peer-reviewed journal article written by Christian Scambor, Heinrich Kraus and me, which has recently been published in the leading journal on evaluation studies Evaluation and Program Planning. In the article “New pathways in the evaluation of programmes for men who perpetrate violence against their female partners” we claim that “evaluation research in the field of intervention programmes for men who perpetrate violence against their female partners still makes a fragmentary impression. Across Europe various evaluation studies have been performed. However, the methodologies applied are too heterogeneous to allow the combination of the results in a meta-analytical way”. Therefore, in this particular article “we propose a future pathway for organising outcome evaluation studies of domestic violence perpetrator programmes in community settings, so that today’s problems in this field can be overcome. In a pragmatic framework that acknowledges the limited pre-conditions for evaluation studies in the area of domestic violence perpetrator programmes as it is today, feasible approaches for outcome evaluation are outlined, with recent developments in the field taken as starting points”. Our framework is presented together with a strategy for its promotion and the whole paper can be accessed on the Evaluation and Program Planning website.