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Batterer Intervention: Program Approaches and Criminal Justice Strategies

NCJ Number
Date Published
214 pages
Intended to help criminal justice personnel make appropriate referrals and dispositions in battering cases, this report focuses on the nature of the problem of domestic violence, the causes of domestic violence, pioneering program models in batterer intervention, current trends in batterer intervention, and the criminal justice response.
Three theoretical approaches dominate the field of batterer intervention; however, in practice, most interventions draw on several explanations for domestic violence. Each theory of domestic violence locates the cause of the violence differently. Social and cultural theories attribute domestic violence to social structures and cultural values that legitimate male control and dominance over their domestic partners. Family-based theories blame violent behaviors on the structure of the family and family interactions rather than on an individual within a family; and individual-based theories attribute domestic violence to psychological problems such as personality disorders, the batterer's childhood experiences, or biological disposition. Most pioneers in batterer intervention established programs based on a feminist educational model. Program procedures typically include intake and assessment, victim contacts, the raising of victim awareness, ongoing advocacy and safety planning, orientation, and steps in leaving the program. Program content generally consists of weekly group intervention, with accountability as the foremost goal, the use of cognitive-behavioral techniques, and the use of the Duluth curriculum, which focuses on issues of power and control. Current trends in batterer intervention are designed to tailor interventions to the particular characteristics and needs of a batterer. Recent research in the area of batterer typology, which points to severe personality disorders in a quarter of the batterer population, may encourage practitioners to be more open to the combined use of educational and psychotherapeutic models with some batterers. In discussing the criminal justice response to battering, the report advises that batterer intervention programs cannot be expected to deter domestic violence in isolation; a strong, coordinated criminal justice response is also needed. Key actions for the criminal justice system are expediting domestic violence cases, using specialized units and centralized dockets, gathering broad-based offender information quickly, and taking advantage of culturally competent or specialized interventions; the criminal justice system should also coordinate batterer intervention with substance abuse treatment, be alert to the risks to children in domestically abusive households, create a continuum of supports and protection for victims, and encourage interagency cooperation. 10 exhibits and appended supplementary information

Date Published: January 1, 1998