How Do Practitioners and Program Managers Working with Male Perpetrators View IPV? A Quebec Study


To document the viewpoints on intimate partner violence (IPV) of Québec practitioners working with violent partners and of program managers of batterer intervention programs (BIPs). Based on Loseke’s (2003) theory of the construction of social problems, a qualitative study was carried out with 25 practitioners working with violent partners and with18 program managers of BIPs so as to explore their conceptions of IPV and their representations of perpetrators and victims. Study participants primarily defined IPV as a way of taking control, while nonetheless noting other motivations. They also insisted on the diversity of contexts of IPV and its numerous manifestations. For them, IPV was a complex, multifactorial problem, involving individual risk factors for the most part, though also including contextual and social ones. Not only did they not see a single type of IPV, but they also saw no single perpetrator or victim profile. They saw both perpetrators and victims as accountable for their choices, even though they posed some limitations on this general principle of accountability. Complexity and diversity seemed to characterize their conceptions of IPV and their representations of perpetrators and victims. Findings are discussed in the light of current debates about IPV, of implications for BIPs, and of contexts that may influence IPV conceptions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    The government enacted a new action plan in August 2018 (Gouvernement du Québec 2018).

  2. 2.

    à cœur d’homme is a Québec association bringing together 29 organizations providing BIPs. Its mission is, among other things, to consolidate and update assistance to male perpetrators of IPV (ACDH 2018).

  3. 3.

    This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

  4. 4.

    Sincere thanks to Rémi Bilodeau, Valérie Meunier and Mario Trépanier.


  1. À coeur d’homme (ACDH). (2016). Violence conjugale et familiale: Vers une politique gouvernementale renouvelée [Domestic and family violence: Toward a renewed politic]. Québec: ACDH.

  2. ACDH. (2018). Rapport d’activités 2017–2018 [Activity report]. Québec: ACDH.

  3. Archer, J. (2000). Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 651–680.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Audet, J. (2002). Violence conjugale, comment les intervenants dans une communauté algonquine la conçoivent, l’expliquent et envisagent l’intervention auprès des conjoints violents [IPV: How practitioners in an aboriginal community see it, explain it and deal with violent partners]. Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Rouyn-Noranda, Canada.

  5. Babcock, J., Armenti, N., Cannon, C., Lauve-Moon, K., Buttel, F., Ferreira, R., et al. (2016). Domestic violence perpeprators programs: A proposal for evidence-based standards in the United States. Partner Abuse, 7, 355–460.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bates, E. A. (2016). Current controversies within intimate partner violence: Overlooking bidirectional violence. Journal of Family Violence, 31, 937–940.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Brasfield, R. (2015). Revisiting the derivation of batterer subtypes: Towards profiling the abuser. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30, 3467–3478.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Brodeur, N., Lisieux, E., Rinfret-Raynor, M. & Pépin-Gagné, J. (2014). Portrait des programmes québécois d’aide aux conjoints ayant des comportements violents [A portrait of BIPs in Quebec]. Service Social, 60, 1–14.

  9. Cannon, C., Hamel, J., Buttell, F., & Ferreira, R. J. (2016). A survey of domestic violence perpetrators programs in the United States and Canada: Findings and implications for policy and intervention. Partner Abuse, 7, 226–276.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Corbally, M., Hughes, J., & Delay, D. (2016). Gender arguments and paradigmatic challenges within intimate partner violence research: A call for a more inclusive paradigm of understanding regarding physical partner violence perpetration. Journal of Family Violence, 31, 1009–1012.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cordeiro, L., Soares, C. B., & Rittenmeyer, L. (2017). Unscrambling method and methodology in action research traditions: Theoretical conceptualization of praxis and emancipation. Qualitative Research, 17(4), 395–407.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Dallaire, L.-F., & Brodeur, N. (2016). Points de vue de professionnels intervenant auprès des conjoints ayant des comportements violents au sujet de la concomitance de violence conjugale et de troubles mentaux [Viewpoints of practitioners working with violent partners about the concomitance between IPV and mental health disorders]. Canadian Social Work Review, 33, 5–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Dalton, B. (2009). Batterer program directors’ views on substance abuse and domestic violence. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 18, 248–260.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dankwort, J., & Rausch, R. (2000). Men at work to end wife abuse in Quebec: A case study in claims making. Violence Against Women, 6, 936–959.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. DeKeseredy, W. S. (2016). Understanding woman abuse in intimate heterosexual relationships: The enduring relevance of feminist ways of knowing. Journal of Family Violence, 31, 1043–1046.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Dunn, J., & Power-Williams, M. (2007). “Everybody makes choices”: Victim advocates and the social construction of battered women’s victimization and agency. Violence Against Women, 13, 977–1001.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Edin, K. E., Lalos, A., Högberg, U., & Dahlgren, L. (2008). Violent men: Ordinary and deviant. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23, 225–244.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Edin, K., Hogberg, U., Dahlgren, L., & Lalos, A. (2009). The pregnancy put the screws on: Discourses of professionals working with men inclined to violence. Men and Masculinities, 11, 307–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Eisikovits, Z., & Bailey, B. (2016). The social construction of roles in intimate partner violence: Is the victim/perpetrator model the only viable one? Journal of Family Violence, 31, 995–998.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Gondolf, E. W. (2012). The future of batterer programs: Reassessing evidence-based practice. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Gouvernement du Québec. (1995). Politique d’intervention en matière de violence conjugale. Prévenir. Dépister. Contrer la violence conjugale [Intervention policy on IPV: Preventing, detecting, ending IPV]. Québec: Gouvernement du Québec.

  23. Gouvernement du Québec. (2018). Plan d’action gouvernemental 2018–2023 en matière de violence conjugale [IPV action plan 2018–2023]. Québec: Gouvernement du Québec.

  24. Harris, S. (2013). Studying the construction of social problems. In J. Best & S. Harris (Eds.), Making sense of social problems. New images, new issues (pp. 1–9). Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Johnson, M. P. (1995). Patriarchal terrorism and common couple violence: Two forms of violence against women. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 283–294.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Kelly, J. B., & Johnson, M. P. (2008). Differentiation among types of intimate partner violence: Research update and implications for interventions. Family Court Review, 46, 476–499.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Labarre, M., Brodeur, N., Roy, V., & Bousquet, M.-A. (2019). Practitioners’ views on IPV and its solutions: An integrative literature review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 20, 679–692.

  28. Lessard, G. (2004). Concomitance de violence conjugale et de mauvais traitements envers les enfants: Représentations des intervenants et défis de collaboration pour l’offre d’une aide cohérente [Concomitance between IPV and child maltreatment: social representation of practitioners and collaboration challenges for a coherent offer of services]. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (NR04563).

  29. Loseke, D. R. (2003). Thinking about social problems: An introduction to constructionist perspective (2nd ed.). Piscataway: Transaction Books.

    Google Scholar 

  30. McGinn, T., McColgan, M., & Taylor, B. (2017). Male IPV perpetrator’s perspectives on intervention and change: A systematic synthesis of qualitative studies. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse.

  31. Ministère de la sécurité publique du Québec. (2017). Les infractions contre la personne commises dans un contexte conjugale au Québec: Faits saillants 2015 [Crimes against persons related to IPV: Highlights 2015]. Québec: Gouvernement du Québec.

  32. Morrison, P. K., Cluss, P. A., Miller, E. P., Fleming, R., Hawker, L., Bicehouse, T., George, D., Wright, K., & Chang, J. C. (2017). Elements needed for quality batterer intervention programs: Perspectives of professionals who deal with intimate partner violence. Journal of Family Violence, 32, 481–491.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Morrison, P. K., Hawker, L., Miller, E. P., Cluss, P. A., George, D., Fleming, R., Bicehouse, T., Wright, K., Burke, J., & Chang, J. C. (2019). The operational challenges for batterer intervention programs: Results from a 2-year study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 34, 2674–2696.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Muehlenhard, C. L., & Kimes, L. A. (1999). The social construction of violence: The case of sexual and domestic violence. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 234–245.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. Nichols, T. L. (2003a). Voices of social problems: A dialogical constructionist model. Studies in Symbolic Interaction, 26, 93–123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Nichols, T. L. (2003b). Rethinking constructionist agency: Claimsmakers as conditions, audiences, types and symbols. Studies in Symbolic Interaction, 26, 125–145.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Pallatino, C., Morrisson, P., Miller, E., Burke, J., Cluss, P., Fleming, R., et al. (2019). The role of accountability in batterers intervention programs and community response to intimate partner violence. Journal of Family Violence, 34, 631–643.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Perrin-Robin, D., & Miller-Perrin, C. L. (2011). Interpersonal violence as social construction: The potentially undermining role of claims making and advocacy statistics. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26, 3033–3049.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. Rondeau, G. (1989). Les programmes québécois d’aide aux conjoints violents: Rapport sur les seize organismes existant au Québec [Quebec programs for violent partners]. Québec: Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux.

  41. Stark, E. (2010). Do violent acts equal abuse? Resolving the gender parity/asymmetry dilemma. Sex Roles, 62, 201–211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Stark, E., & Hester, M. (2019). Coercive control: Update and review. Violence Against Women, 25, 81–104.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Straus, M. A., Gelles, R. J., & Steinmetz, S. K. (1980). Behind closed doors: Violence in the American family. Garden City: Doubleday/Anchor Books.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Virkki, T. (2015). Social and health care professionals’ views on responsible agency in the process of ending intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 21, 712–733.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Walby, S., & Towers, J. (2018). Untangling the concept of coercive control: Theorizing domestic violent crime. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 18, 7–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Walker, K., Bowen, E., Brown, S., & Sleath, E. (2018). The process of primary desistance from intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 24, 843–875.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. Winstok, Z. (2011). The paradigmatic cleavage on gender differences in partner violence perpetration and victimization. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 16, 303–311.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Valérie Roy.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Roy, V., Brodeur, N., Labarre, M. et al. How Do Practitioners and Program Managers Working with Male Perpetrators View IPV? A Quebec Study. J Fam Viol 35, 877–888 (2020).

Download citation


  • Intimate partner violence
  • Practitioners
  • Program managers
  • Perpetrators
  • Typology
  • Batterer intervention programs
  • Construction of social problems