Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Batterer Intervention Programs


Even if batterers comply with court-ordered intervention programs, there is some question about the effectiveness of these interventions. Many intervention programs trace their roots to the Duluth model which is a combination of education and therapy, using an analysis of battering exemplified by the power and control wheel. Others alter the program's content or approach somewhat. Some programs focus on the educational component to the exclusion of the therapeutic component, and some research even suggests that batterers regress during the therapeutic component, especially if it is run like a group rap session in which they all reinforce each other's justifications and rationalizations. Baltimore has one intervention program that is run by a local mental health center and that targets substance abusers who batter. Very little research has been done on batterer intervention programs, and little is known about their format, substance, or effectiveness. Most existing research does not demonstrate program effectiveness. There is widespread dissatisfaction in the field with the effectiveness of available models of batterer interventions. However, communities continue to use what is available, in the absence of anything better.

There were considerable differences in the programs across the sites. In the sites that we visited, programs ranged from 12 to 52 weeks in length. At one time, a provider in Kansas City allowed batterers to complete the program in a weekend Some of the programs take an educational approach while others take an approach of confronting the batterers' belief systems. Some are facilitated by women (who may be former victim advocates), others are facilitated by former batterers or mental health professionals. Some providers have training in counseling or psychology, while others started in the field because of their strong interest.

As more models are developed and the use of batterer intervention becomes more common, some of the states and localities in this study are requiring certification of individual providers, programs or both. Moreover, the courts in many of these localities have developed a standard length of time for which they order offenders to attend intervention programs which influences standards for certification. These standards differ across states and localities.