Making Space for Change 

Substance use is known to increase the risk of individuals committing violence to their partner but addressing this link head-on has long been taboo. 

Our clients at Kings College London are using their research to undertake ground-breaking interventions aimed at breaking this destructive cycle.  

This involves enrolling perpetrators in recovery into a programme of group therapy sessions and one to one support. The ultimate aim: to reduce future rates of harm for the survivors, their families and perpetrators themselves. 

Earlier this year, we created a series of scripted films used for training facilitators of the programme. The films included simulated group therapy sessions with actors as participants, and unfolding situations of abuse in a domestic setting. 

The key challenge in this project was ensuring the scripts, casting and interactions felt and were authentic. This meant pre-production was all about research, research, and research.  

Before thinking about picking up a camera, we spoke extensively to individuals with lived experiences on both ends of the violence. These conversations informed our understanding of the mindsets, characters, and complexities behind these scenarios in the real-world. We also consulted experts on the front-line and created scenarios with our clients on board every step of the way.   

After casting came finding the right location for each of these scenes. We scoured church halls and living rooms across London, looking for settings that matched the characters and storylines with subtlety.  

For the group therapy sessions, we wanted interaction between the participants to appear natural and spontaneous. Instead of scripting every line, we put heavy emphasis on getting the actors immersed into their characters, briefing them each with detailed biographies and back stories.  

And practice and preparation made perfect. The films have been widely acclaimed by practitioners for their realistic and sensitive portrayals. But what makes us immensely proud is the knowledge that these films will be used to bring change into real people’s lives.