Richelieu-Saint Laurent police want to support violent men in learning better behaviours, and they are partnering with Entraide pour hommes (EPH) to work towards this goal.

A psychosocial intervener specializing in domestic violence has been sworn in by the police and can, therefore, "consult all event reports," said EPH executive director Geneviève Landry.

The organization is responsible for "contacting the perpetrator of violence" within 24 to 72 hours of a police intervention in order to build trust with him and refer him to the organization's support program.

"The men are very relieved to get that call," said Landry.

Since the start of the pilot project in mid-May, "50 per cent of the men we have reached accept to receive help, and the 50 per cent who refuse, it is never a categorical refusal."

"A police arrest is definitely a shock," she said. "He is left to his own devices, [and] he doesn't know the resources, and that stress leads to an even higher risk of re-offending."

She said that in the wave of femicides that struck Quebec in the last two years, "all these men were known to the police."

Thus, in addition to supervising the violent spouse, the intervener can help to better evaluate his risk factors.

"Obsessive jealousy, sequestration, harassment" are often antecedents that men who killed their spouses have, she said.


Landry said, "if we don't intervene with the perpetrator, we won't stop the cycle of domestic violence."

EPH offers a 20-week workshop.

"The workshop focuses on teaching the use of mechanisms to curb abusive behaviour, but to do that you have to educate people about what domestic violence is, because even today, a lot of people don't know what it is and only know about its physical manifestations," she said. "Abuse can also be in the form of verbal abuse, psychological abuse, jealousy, control."

After identifying what domestic violence is, the group learns to be aware of "the impact these behaviours have on those around them," to "develop empathy," and to "work on cognitive distortions."

It should not be assumed, however, that all abusive partners are the same and need the same interventions, Landry said.

"Domestic violence is always a choice, but there are some for whom the choice is conscious and some for whom the choice is not conscious," she said. "Some may engage in what is called 'intimate terrorism' and deliberately create a climate of terror, while others tend to be more dependent and set up 'a dynamic of jealousy and obsession.' Still others become violent in response to situational stress and tension."

Up to 2021, EPH intervened in 670 situations of domestic violence in a territory covering the Vallée-du-Richelieu, Maskoutains, Samuel-de-Champlain and Pierre-Boucher.

The organization hopes that the model of collaboration with the police department will be replicated elsewhere in Quebec.

Landry also hopes to see more resources for violent women and teens.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 10, 2022.