The Partner Assault Response (PAR) Program is a program offered in many Canadian provinces to men and women who have been charged with domestic assault or other domestic violence related offences. The main goal of the PAR program is to provide these accused people with education services in an effort to stop future incidents of domestic violence from happening. Participation in the Partner Assault Response (PAR) program is essentially mandatory for all people convicted of a domestic violence offence, and in Ontario the program typically lasts 12 sessions. During this time, participants attend weekly group sessions led by facilitators who are trained in domestic violence prevention. In addition to attending group sessions, participants must also complete a number of assignments and tasks designed to help them reflect on their behaviour and learn about healthy relationships.
An undeniable aim of the program is to enhance victim safety, with safety planning, and hold offenders accountable for their behaviour.
This article will discuss the Partner Assault Response (PAR) Program delivered by the Ministry of the Attorney General, what is involved, and how it can benefit individuals facing charges of domestic abuse and domestic violence.
Topics and Issues Addressed in the PAR Program
The PAR Program covers a range of topics and issues that cumulatively, over 12 sessions, examines ways of resolving conflict and address the underlying causes that are factors in domestic violence. The program covers such issues and topics as:
- Use of intimidation and other threatening behaviours
- Emotional abuse
- Minimizing and blaming to accountability
- Negotiation strategies
- Recognize controlling behaviour, power and control dynamics
- Examine their beliefs and attitudes towards gender roles
- Anger awareness
- Control issues in relationships
- Stress management
- Learning to deal with conflict in a healthy way
- Better understand domestic abuse and domestic violence
The program’s goal is to help accused person and offenders convicted of domestic assault learn ways of resolving conflict and strategies and skills to build and maintain healthy relationships.
The Partner Assault Response Program also helps victims of domestic abuse by connecting them to community resources and support. The program also assists to enhance victim safety with safety planning and close police support.
Government Funded PAR Programs Must Be Court Referred
The Partner Assault Response Program is substantial funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General. When accused people are referred to the program prior to resolving their charges there is a nominal user fee that needs to be paid for each session. These referrals are completed through the Crown’s office at the courthouse where the domestic related charges are being heard.
When a person has been convicted of a domestic violence related offence, and their sentence does not exceed two years of jail, they are placed on a Probation Order that includes a condition to compete a PAR programs. The offender’s probation officer will then direct the offender attends the program and will refer them to program in their area.
An accused person or convicted person cannot simply attend a government funded PAR program. They must be referred by a Crown Attorney through the Domestic Violence Court or by a probation officer.
It is important to know not all individuals charged with domestic assault have the option to attend the PAR Program. But there are private programs available for those interested but not being referred by the Crown or their Probation Officer.
An outstanding and highly recommended private PAR provide is Reconnect Counselling Services. They provide counseling services that are specifically tailored to the individual and their particular needs.
What Is Involved in the PAR Program?
The Partner Assault Response Program consists of twelve sessions of one to two hours each. Each of these sessions teaches non-violent methods for dealing with conflict, such as:
- Communication strategies in a relationship
- Examining their beliefs and attitudes towards domestic violence
- Non violent ways to resolving conflict
- Taking responsibility for their actions and behaviour
- Dealing with substance abuse issues
- Learn non-abusive ways to communicate and non-violet methods resolve conflicts
- Identifying triggers that may lead to violent behaviour
- Victim safety and hold offenders accountable
The program is often done in a group education session, and participation is expected. It is important to attend all the sessions and arrive on time. There may also be take-home work to complete before the next session. Individuals in the course must show that they take it seriously and look to improve their behaviour. At the end of the program, upon completion, individuals will receive a certificate that they can show to the court.
What if I fail the PAR Program?
Failure to complete the Partner Assault Response Program, or failing to meaningfully participate, could result in the Crown Attorney rescinding their resolution position or plea deal. With some cases the Crown’s only requirement to withdraw the charges is the completion of the program. A failure to complete the program is a strong indication that the individual is unwilling to learn from their mistakes or take domestic abuse charges seriously.
There are also Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Programs (IPVP) that offer culturally relevant counselling for Indigenous individuals. These are designed and delivered by Indigenous counsellors to provide support to members of their communities and offer support to victims, families and community members. Theses programs also work closes with police and other providers to enhance victim safety and hold offenders accountable for their behaviour. Offenders also learn about power and control and learn non-abusive ways to resolve conflict.
What is the Cost?
There is a fee to attend the program. The service providers determine fees that are based on an individual’s needs and income and can often be negotiated.
Private Counseling Services
Also, there are other private counsel programs available. There are scenarios in which the Crown will not refer a person to a PAR program, however, there is nothing stopping an accused from attending a private program. There are several advantages to attending private counseling:
- Programs tailored to the individual
- Program completed at the users pace and schedule
- Ability to explore issues one-on-one with a therapist
- A variety of programs and not just PARs
- Shows a desire and willingness for rehabilitation
- Will mitigate sentencing
A highly recommended counseling provider is Trish Scott from Reconnect Distance Counselling. She has extensive experience in providing counseling services for people involved in the justice system. Reconnect Counselling offers a variety of programs directed at people facing criminal charges.
Experienced Criminal Defence Lawyer
If you have been charged with a domestic assault, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer right away. A criminal lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and work towards the best possible outcome in your case. Partner Assault Response Programs (PARs) offers people accused of assault the opportunity to learn new skills and improve their communication. Successfully completing the program and meaningfully participating in the program can help with the withdrawal of criminal charges.
Experienced counsel may be able to assist in getting people charged with domestic violence related offences into a PARs program or assist in find alternative private counselling programs. William Jaksa has over 15 years of experience representing clients in Toronto charged with domestic assault. Call William Jaksa for a consultation today.