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Short concept of integrated perpetrator-victim counselling

The complex dynamic of stalking can often only be understood when both sides are seen.

The joint counselling team succeeds in interconnecting perspectives for the stalking person, as well as for the stalked person, who recognise the specific distorted reality on the side of the victim, as well as of the perpetrator, and the team can dirive appropriate intervention from this.

The top priorities are the protection and stabalisation of the person affected by stalking.

The first objective is to end the stalking behaviour as quickly as possible.

The most important prerequisite for doing this is strictly separated counselling, so that the person affected by stalking, and the person who stalks never meet in the context of iTOB.

The integrated perpetrator-victim counselling then offers important advantages for the work with both persons:

The victim can be counselled specifically, if approaches and experiences of the perpetrator are known through continuous contact with the perpetrator side. Quick measures of protections can be taken, if necessary.

The person who stalks can be confronted in a better way if the counsellor also receives information from the side of the person affected by stalking, about improvements or relapses in stalking behaviour.

On both sides, humiliation can be acknowledged, trivialisation can be met with confrontation, and inappropriate fears – as well as with underestimated belittlements – can be corrected.

Possible ambivalence on both sides (wishes to be close and distant, idealisation and depreciation, aggression and feelings of guilt) can be better understood and worked on from the knowledge of the dynamic of the preceeding relationship or biographical previous experiences.

In the case of escalated separation conflicts with mutual children and disputes regarding custody and access rights, the welfare of the child and the justified interests of the parents must be weighed up against the instrumentalisation of the children for the stalking. In cooperation with the youth welfare services and family courts, social workers – if applicable-, other involved institutions, seperate counselling (usually under the protection of confidentiality) is held.

The approach

Seperated counselling for stalkers and those affected by stalking in a mixed-gender counselling team. Adapted measures of protection for the victim through the separation of the counselling sessions by time and rooms, if applicable.

A declaration of protection on the side of the perpetrator for the victim, for the police and prosecuting authorities, too, in perspective.

In the case of a referal by the courts, feedback is provided on how the counselling is going; if counselling is terminated, prosecution is reinstated; if it is successfully completed, the perpetrator has a chance of a reduced fine/sentence.

Undelayed response to the victim, in the case that counselling on the perpetrator side is terminated, and continual risk analysis, which has some influence on the management of the threat.

Measures of protection for the victim, work on the mental stresses from the stalking (injuries, anxieties, sleep disruption, self-esteem problems, and if applicable, post-traumatic stress syndrome).

Working on the stalking dynamic with the perpetrator as a mistaken way of dealing with humiliation, working on victim empathy, dealing with the criminal behaviour, support in controlling behaviour and changing approach, development of alternative ways of behaving, reinforcement of resources and new orientation.

The advantages

Boundaries are set immediately to the perpetrator, the safety of the victim is ensured as best possible, the victim is strengthened in the process.

Accelerated interuption of the stalking dynamic helps the victim and benefits the perpetrator, as chronification (secondary prevention) and prosecution are avoided.

Pressure is taken off prosecution services, it is possible for the police, justice and health care systems to save money.

A more complete and balanced picture for the counsellor, as soon as both sides have been seen. In this way, distorted perceptions from the relevant position (victim—perpetrator) can be worked on more easily and a deescalation can be worked towards. In family law disputes, in the interests of child welfare, the victims are protected, the perpetrators receive help to end the stalking. Stalking expertise is made available for youth welfare services.

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