The Partner Assault Response (PAR) program is a Domestic Violence Court initiative that delivers a specialized community-based group education/counselling program to offenders who have been mandated by the court to attend the PAR program in response to a criminal charge involving domestic violence.
At Family Service Toronto (FST), we call this program the Next Steps program. This program operates as a part of FST’s integrated Family Violence Centre.
This program, funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Ontario Victim Services, is a court-ordered sanction. It aims to enhance victim safety and hold offenders accountable for their behaviour by providing participants with an opportunity to:
- examine their beliefs and attitudes towards domestic abuse
- learn non-abusive ways of resolving conflict
The primary objectives of the PAR program are to:
- increase an offender’s understanding of domestic violence and abuse
- increase an offender’s understanding of non-violent strategies and skills to engage in healthy relationships
- reduce an offender’s likelihood of reoffending by increasing an offender’s self-awareness of personal triggers/warning signs that contribute to violent behaviour
- assist victims/partners by reducing their isolation and providing information that will help them to make informed decisions about their safety and their relationship with the offender
How do PAR programs meet these objectives?
Work in the program is oriented to providing:
- education/counselling to clients regarding the dynamics and impact of domestic violence.
- clients with appropriate non-violent strategies and opportunity to practice skills to resolve conflict and develop healthy relationships.
- referrals to other community support services, as required.
- victims/partners with safety planning, support and referrals to community resources and information about the PAR client’s progress throughout the duration of the program.
Frequently Asked Questions
When are groups offered and to whom?
We offer groups in English, Tamil, Farsi and French as well as groups for gay men.
English groups are offered at our downtown location twice a week: on Tuesdays 10 a.m. to noon and Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. These groups can be joined at any time and participants must complete 12 sessions. We are able to start people within groups within one to two weeks of contacting FST.
Two groups are offered in English on Saturday mornings in Scarborough. These groups are closed groups, meaning everyone starts at the same time and ends at the same time.
Tamil language groups are offered twice a year in Scarborough on Tuesday evenings in Scarborough. They are run as closed groups with a specific start and end time.
French language groups are offered up to four times a year at our west end location. They are run as closed groups. Times and days that groups run are based on surveying clients.
Groups for gay men are held twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. These groups are run as part of our David Kelley Service. They are run as closed groups with a specific start and end time.
Contact our Service Access Unit at 416 595 9618 for information about the start times for our closed groups and to immediately register for open groups.
How do I register for the Next Steps program?
Contact our Service Access Unit at 416 595 9618 to schedule a time for your first appointment.
We will work with you to determine the best location, date, time and type of group that will work for you.
How many weeks will I have to attend the Next Steps PAR program?
There is an intake/assessment session and 12 group sessions after that. All participants are required to complete all sessions.
Do I have to pay a fee for this program?
Yes, you are required to pay a fee on a sliding scale. We will ask you about your individual income in order to determine where you fall on our sliding scale. You are required to show us proof of income at your first visit with us in order to confirm your fee and to complete our fee contract.
You must pay all of your fees, in full, in order for your closing report to be forwarded to the Court and/or Probation.
Can I be discharged from the program before completing 12 sessions?
Yes, there are several grounds upon which a person can be discharged from the program. They include:
- Failure to complete a homework assignment (on more than one occasion without a reasonable explanation)
- Late for group (on more than one occasion without a reasonable explanation)
- Disruptive in group (on more than one occasion)
- Assaulted or threatened your victim/partner.
- Attended a session impaired by alcohol or some other drug.
- Missed a session (without a reasonable explanation or notification)
- Refusal to pay the negotiated client fee
- Being abusive or threatening towards agency staff, students, volunteers, clients or PAR program participants
Before entering the program, every person is informed of these grounds and signs a document that they understand them.
What topics are covered in the Next Steps PAR program?
There are nine mandatory topics that are covered, including:
- Domestic Violence Defining Abuse
- How Beliefs and Attitudes Affect Behaviour
- The Effects of Abuse on Children, Partners and Self
- Understanding Triggers / Warning Signs
- The Impact of Substance Abuse
- Healthy Relationships
- Respectful Communication
- Dealing with Conflict
- Responsibility and Accountability
What happens when I finish the program?
The group leaders will complete a closing report which is sent to the Courts. The judge will review this report and determine if you have fulfilled the conditions of your court order.