The Family Peace Initiative in Australia

Innovative domestic and family violence service providers the Family Peace Initiative (FPI) are coming to Australia in November for SPEAQ Forum 2022. A series of events are planned around their visit, providing the opportunity for practitioners to learn more about their unique approach to intervention work with those who have perpetrated domestic and family violence.

Steve Halley and Dorthy Stucky Halley, founders and directors of FPI, have been working in the field for over 30 years, and in that time have developed an approach to perpetrator intervention work that is trauma responsive, uses therapeutic skill, responds to different motivations for violence, and promotes second order change. Here’s some of the key ideas:

  • Their River of Cruelty model acknowledges how people’s experience of cruelty and trauma can play a central role in the choice to perpetrate abuse towards others
  • Transformational change is possible when a person’s trauma history and its connection to their perpetration of violence can be explored in a safe space with skilled therapeutic facilitation
  • Effective facilitation in DFV intervention programs involves: leading by example the and responsible use of vulnerability, facilitating dialogue that focusses on internal experience, emotional awareness and beliefs about self
  • Understanding the motives for perpetration of violence enhances risk assessment and effective safety planning in both victim/survivor advocacy and intervention with those using violence.
  • Combining cognitive-behavioural and trauma-focused evidence-based strategies offers a process for both accountability and healing

They have taken their work into a number of different contexts and developed programs to suit the differing needs of several client populations: men, LGBTQ, women, youth, in community, prison, probation and parole and other contexts.

You can catch them at the following events:

9 – 11 November: SPEAQ Forum 2022 Breaking the mould: progressing our responses to diversity

Location: Cairns Colonial Club, Cairns

Steve and Dorthy are providing a number of sessions at the Forum:

  • Wed: Special Film Screening – Behind the Rage: America’s Domestic Violence
    • A special advance screening of a new documentary by award-winning filmmaker and activist Deeyah Khan. Includes soul-searching interviews with perpetrators of DFV and their partners and provides a glimpse of FPIs work. Followed by a conversation with Steve and Dorthy about their experience with the making of the film (9 pm – 9:30 pm). This session is free for Forum attendees and local DFV sector staff. You can view a trailer in this recent media article from the UK.
  • Thurs: Facilitating discussions in the Practitioner Hot Topics session, on the following topics:
    • The place of self-disclosure in facilitation of behaviour change groups (Steve)
    • What unique challenges and opportunities do you face as the only woman in the room? What helps you to hold this role well? (Dorthy)
    • What might elevate risk during participation in a programme and how can we mitigate this? (Dorthy)
    • What leads to transformational change in those who perpetrate DFV, and how can we strengthen this in our practice? (Steve)
  • Friday: The River of Cruelty model: a trauma responsive approach to interventions with perpetrators of DFV
    • A presentation exploring the River of Cruelty model used by FPI in their intervention work with those perpetrating DFV
  • Friday: Exploring Motive: Examining Different Dangers and Risks for Victims of Domestic and Family Violence from a Victim Advocate Perspective
    • A presentation introducing FPI’s typology of motive, and its implication for risk assessment and response for victim advocates.

For more information and to register, click here.

15 – 16 November: The Art of Facilitation

Location: Quaker Meeting House, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane

Facilitation training for DFV intervention work: This evidence-based, trauma-focused training is FPI’s foundational course, packed full of skills and ideas that can be immediately implemented in perpetrator intervention and victim advocacy. Participants will learn the River of Cruelty model, leading by example, the power of self-disclosure, increasing introspection, the process of healing from trauma and much more!

For more information click hereTo register click here.

17 – 18 November: The Affective Component

Location: Quaker Meeting House, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane

Facilitation training for DFV intervention work: This training builds upon the skills learned in The Art of Facilitation, but can also be taken separately. Participants learn how to manage emotional spaces and witness the transformational growth that can come from this approach. This includes the enlightened witness, shadow process, FPI’s emotional funnel, working with adverse feelings, addressing shame and defense systems, and more!

For more information click hereTo register click here.

21 November: Cracking the Code: Understanding Motives of those Who Perpetrate Domestic and Family Violence and the Connection to Risk and Lethality

Location: Karstens Brisbane / Online
This 6-hour presentation “cracks the code” on domestic and family violence perpetrator behaviour, presenting an evidence-informed understanding of their differences based on motive. This is ideal for perpetrator intervention professionals, advocates, child safety case managers, therapists, magistrates, lawyers and other professionals working with domestic violence concerns. Those with different motives display different behaviours and present different dangers to their victims and children. Through the use of videos and case examples, this information unlocks a deeper and more nuanced understanding of domestic violence, and provides practical information that can improve safety planning with victims and children, and intervention efforts with persons using violence.

This event is being run by WorkUP Qld. Click here for more information and to register

25 November: Cracking the Code: Understanding Motives of those Who Perpetrate Domestic and Family Violence and the Connection to Risk and Lethality

Location: Newcastle

This event is organised by Joplin Lawyers. Here’s a link to the flyer.


  • WorkUP Qld, in particular Louise Villanova, for their very generous assistance in bringing Dorthy and Steve to Australia, and collaboration around the Cracking the Code workshop.
  • SPEAQ Steering Committee members, SPEAQ Forum Organising Committee members and other colleagues who assisted in reviewing FPI material and confirming the value of their work and assisting with adaptation to the Australian context.

A personal note

I first heard about the Family Peace Initiative through a US based “batterer intervention program” discussion group. The things Steve and Dorthy were saying resonated with some of my own ideas an experience as an MBCP group facilitator of around 15 years, and I liked what I read on the FPI website.  Intrigued by the Art of Facilitation training and some very positive reviews I had heard about it, I completed it online in 2021, and a couple of months later completed the Level 2 training The Affective Component.

What struck me was that these are people with heart, and with great expertise in the creation of safe space and the facilitation of profound change. The training was deeply experiential – how can you facilitate change in someone else if you haven’t experienced it yourself? I felt the effects in my body for a couple of months afterwards. I appreciate that this is my own experience, shaped by my own personal circumstances and other factors, however it gave me a very strong sense of the value of the ideas and processes used by FPI. These ideas also resonate with my own approach to individual work with men who have perpetrated DFV (alongside group sessions or in a program of individual work), where with men who are ready to “go deep”, a single session’s well targeted work can bring about a significant and even pivotal shift.

Similarly, the Typology of Motive developed by Dorthy has strong resonance with my own experience of diversity among the clients I have seen – something I have noticed from the earliest days of my work in this field which was never adequately explained by the orthodox view of DV as behaviour motivated solely by patriarchal entitlement.

Along the way Steve and Dorthy have been very generous in sharing their knowledge, resources and good humour. I am pleased to be able to bring them to Australia and provide colleagues here the opportunity to learn and benefit from what they offer.



SPEAQ Secretary, October 2022

  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.