Batterer intervention programs (BIPs) have become the preferred way for responding to perpetrators in the domestic violence field. However, the research on their efficacy has been mixed. Some major studies have shown little or no effect on participants, whereas other research has demonstrated significant improvement in a subset of men who complete the programs.
These contradictory research results have created confusion among professionals who work in fields related to domestic violence and criminal justice. Domestic violence advocates often tell victims that abusive men will never change, whereas BIP practitioners sometimes see that men can progress in a positive direction. Some judges and probation officers regularly mandate men to attend BIPs (sometimes because of the lack of other options), whereas others do not, citing the lack of evidence of success. The great majority of states do not allocate any funds to support these programs, though many attempt to regulate them through guidelines that are seldom based on research.
The Family Violence Prevention Fund received funding from “The Woods” Charitable Foundation to organize a two-day meeting of experts on BIP and domestic violence research and practice. The meeting took place on December 3 and 4, 2009 in Washington DC and was co-organized and co-sponsored the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Instead of focusing only on whether BIP programs work or not, the goal of the meeting was to explore how the systems that work with perpetrators of DV could be improved and how research could be more helpful to the field. The meeting examined the state of the current research on BIPs, highlighted some innovative practices and looked at how related fields of research are approaching similar problems.
Twenty national experts in the various disciplines of batterers intervention and domestic violence research and practice were the primary discussants at the meeting. Additionally, 30 auditors were invited to observe the proceedings. The auditors represented key constituents to aid in the dissemination of the meeting’s report and the implementation of its recommendations, such as federal and state policy makers, domestic violence and BIP activists, judicial officers, researchers and others.FVPF and NIJ published a report on the meeting and four commissioned papers by leading researchers and practitioners.Report:
- Certified Batterer Intervention Programs: History, Philosophies, Techniques, Collaborations, Innovations, and Challenges. By David Adams, Ed.D.
- Assessing the Efficacy of Batterer Intervention Programs in Context. By Etiony Aldarondo, Ph.D.
- The Survival of Batterer Programs: Responding to Evidence-Based Practice and Improving Program Operation. By Edward Gondolf, Ed.D., M.P.H.
- Future Directions for BIPs: Examining the Power of Male Peer Support and Building Alternative Support Communities. By Barbara Hart, J.D.