Purpose – Holding domestic violence perpetrators accountable for their abusive behavior is the number one objective of batterer intervention programs (BIPs), typically consisting of same‐sex psychoeducational counseling groups. However, such programs have been found to be only marginally successful in reducing recidivism rates. To be more effective, programs need to take into account the complexities of intimate partner violence. The purpose of this article is to offer clinicians working in the field of partner violence suggestions to help them enlist client cooperation and teach responsibility while taking into account the prevalence of mutual abuse dynamics. Design/methodology/approach – The article draws on findings from the research literature as well as the author's 20 years of clinical experience conducting domestic violence offender treatment groups for both men and women. Findings – Among individuals court‐mandated to batterer intervention, many are involved in mutually‐abusive relationships. Emerging literature indicates that some are also primarily victims. This poses a dilemma for batterer intervention group facilitators, who must work within a legal framework in which individuals are deemed to be either perpetrators or victims. Practical implications – Implications of this article for partner violence policy and practice include a need for more flexible, evidence‐based laws on partner violence. Originality/value – There are few practice articles on working with the various forms of abuse dynamics within a clinical setting, and this is the first that is focused on group treatment. The article should be of value to clinicians working directly with domestic violence perpetrators and victims, as well as to the policy makers who conceptualize, create and fund these programs.
Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 13, 2012
Keywords: Mutual abuse; Systemic perspective; Evidence‐based practice; Batterer intervention programs; Abuse cycles; Domestic violence; Individual behaviour