Court mandated programs for perpetrators of intimate partner violence

Court-mandated programs for perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV), also called batterer intervention programs (BIPs), are a diversionary approach that expands offenders’ definitions of abuse, increases the responsibility they feel, and then teaches alternative reactions (Saunders 2008*). BIPs are usually group sessions with a facilitator, but intervention approaches vary. Traditional approaches (e.g., the Duluth model) are based on feminism perspectives and cognitive behavioral therapy focused on changing attitudes toward gender roles and behaviors. Alternative approaches include motivational enhancement interventions, case management interventions, and couples’ therapy (Aaron 2016*, Eckhardt 2013).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced intimate partner violence

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is mixed evidence about the effects of court-mandated batterer intervention programs (BIPs). Overall, evidence suggests that court-mandated BIPs do not reduce recidivism for most offenders (Babcock 2016, Arias 2013, Campbell-Feder 2008). However, alternative BIP models may reduce recidivism rates (Eckhardt 2013, Miller 2013). Additional research is needed to confirm effects.

Traditional BIP models do not appear to affect recidivism rates (Eckhardt 2013, Herman 2014*, Miller 2013) and appear less effective than restorative justice programs (Mills 2013*). Resolution Counseling Intervention Program, a counseling-based psychoeducational alternative BIP approach, has been associated with increased anger management, desire for change, and behavioral control among participants as well as decreases in stress and violent behaviors (Crockett 2015*).

Efforts to improve program completion (e.g., motivational techniques and attendance monitoring), offender risk assessments, culturally focused curricula, emphasis on emotional and behavioral self-regulation, practitioner training and education, and tailored interventions based on offenders’ risk factors (e.g., substance use, mental health issues, military experience) and type of violence are suggested strategies to increase effectiveness of BIPs (Babcock 2016, Aaron 2016*, Radatz 2016*, Cantos 2015, Hoyt 2014*, Saunders 2008*).

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

As of July 2014, 16 states have legislation to regulate licensing, certification, or standards for batterer intervention programs (CDC-BIP laws 2015).

Implementation Resources

CWIG-BIP - Child Welfare Information Gateway (CWIG). Batterer intervention programs (BIP).

Citations - Evidence

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Babcock 2016 - Babcock J. et al. Domestic violence perpetrator programs: A proposal for evidence-based standards in the United States. Partner Abuse. 2016;7(4):355-460.

Arias 2013 - Arias E, Arce R, Vilariño M. Batterer intervention programmes: A meta-analytic review of effectiveness. Psychosocial Intervention. 2013;22(2):153–160.

Campbell-Feder 2008 - Feder L, Wilson DB, Austin S. Court-mandated interventions for individuals convicted of domestic violence. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2008;4(1):1-46.

Eckhardt 2013 - Eckhardt CI, Murphy CM, Whitaker DJ, et al. The effectiveness of intervention programs for perpetrators and victims of intimate partner violence. Partner Abuse. 2013;4(2):196–231.

Miller 2013 - Miller M, Drake E, Nafziger M. What works to reduce recidivism by domestic violence offenders? Document No. 13-01-1201. Olympia: Washington State Institute for Public Policy; 2013.

Herman 2014* - Herman K, Rotunda R, Williamson G, Vodanovich S. Outcomes from a Duluth model batterer intervention program at completion and long term follow-up. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. 2014;53(1):1–18.

Mills 2013* - Mills LG, Barocas B, Ariel B. The next generation of court-mandated domestic violence treatment: a comparison study of batterer intervention and restorative justice programs. Journal of Experimental Criminology. 2013;9(1):65–90.

Crockett 2015* - Crockett EE, Keneski E, Yeager K, Loving TJ. Breaking the mold: Evaluating a non-punitive domestic violence intervention program. Journal of Family Violence. 2015;30(4):489–499.

Aaron 2016* - Aaron SM, Beaulaurier RL. The need for new emphasis on batterers intervention programs. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. 2016.

Radatz 2016* - Radatz DL, Wright EM. Integrating the principles of effective intervention into batterer intervention programming: The case for moving toward more evidence-based programming. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. 2016;17(1):72–87.

Cantos 2015 - Cantos AL, Goldstein DA, Brenner L, O’Leary KD, Verborg R. Correlates and program completion of family only and generally violent perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Behavioral Psychology. 2015;23(3):549–569.

Hoyt 2014* - Hoyt T, Wray AM, Rielage JK. Preliminary investigation of the roles of military background and posttraumatic stress symptoms in frequency and recidivism of intimate partner violence perpetration among court-referred men. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2014;29(6):1094–1110.

Saunders 2008* - Saunders DG. Group interventions for men who batter: A summary of program descriptions and research. Violence and Victims. 2008;23(2):156–72.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

CDC-BIP laws 2015 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Menu of state batterer intervention program (BIP) laws. 2015.

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