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Breaking the Mold: Evaluating a Non-Punitive Domestic Violence Intervention Program

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Abstract

Individuals convicted of committing domestic violence are often court mandated to attend a Batterer Intervention Program (BIP). Evidence of the effectiveness of these programs, however, is inconclusive largely because of the diversity in approaches used by BIPs. In a pre-test/post-test design, the current study assessed outcomes associated with one specific BIP: a counseling-based, non-punitive psychoeducational program designed to treat both male and female domestic violence offenders. A sample of 149 clients completed a comprehensive survey both prior to and upon completion of the BIP. Participation in this BIP fostered attitudes known to be associated with nonviolence, including perceptions of accountability, anger management, indications of safety planning, and reported desire for change. Additionally, self-reported levels of psychological and physical violence decreased from pre- to post-treatment. Theoretical and therapeutic implications for BIPs are discussed.

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Notes

  1. It should be noted, however, that men and women’s use of violence is not the same. Men are almost exclusively the perpetrators of intimate partner terrorism (a control-based type of violence; Johnson and Ferraro 2000), and men’s violence against women is more likely to result in victim injury and higher rates of seeking medical attention (e.g., Cascardi et al. 1992; Johnson 2006).

  2. There were 414 participants who completed the pre-treatment survey, but only 149 participants completed both the pre- and post-treatment surveys. Independent samples t-tests were used to determine whether those individuals who completed the post-treatment surveys differed from those who did not complete the post-treatment surveys on any pre-treatment variables of interest (i.e., physical violence, psychological violence, accountability, control, safety planning, perceived stress, anger management, and desire for change). Participants who did versus did not complete post-treatment surveys did not differ prior to treatment in the level of accountability they took for their behavior (t (346.36) = −1.68; p = .10), in the extent to which they attempted to control their partners (t (304) = .88; p = .39), in their levels of perceived stress (t (376) = 1.71; p = .09), or in their abilities to manage their anger (t (379) = −.33; p = .74). Of particular importance, participants who did versus did not complete the post-treatment survey did not differ in their self-reported desire to change (t (403) = .33; p = .74), use of physical violence (t (356) = .75; p = .45), or use of psychological violence (t (356) = 1.84; p = .07). Participants who completed post-treatment surveys did, however, initially report using more safety planning strategies prior to entering the treatment program (t (344.15) = −2.49; p = .02).

  3. Participants were recruited from LifeWorks Resolution Counseling Program. For more information about the program, contact Wendy Varnell, wendy.varnell@lifeworksaustin.org.

  4. Importantly, when we analyzed the data using a highly conservative, list-wise deletion approach to handle missing data, the results were almost identical to what is reported in the manuscript. The only differences are minor shifts in significance tests for controlling behavior and violence. We believe these shifts occurred because using list-wise deletion (1) does not properly account for under reporting of violence and (2) resulted in a smaller, underpowered sample size.

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Correspondence to Erin E. Crockett.

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Crockett, E.E., Keneski, E., Yeager, K. et al. Breaking the Mold: Evaluating a Non-Punitive Domestic Violence Intervention Program. J Fam Viol 30, 489–499 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-015-9706-x

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