Batterers' Intervention Programs (BIPs) are methods of developing positive familial relationships in those which have suffered from domestic violence of any sort. They utilize education and psychological therapy to deal with the underlying causes of the battering, while protecting the victim and affected children. Battering is defined differently in each state, but intervention programs refer to it as "a constellation of physical violence, sexual and psychological abuses." This can include any number of acts, only a handful of which are considered illegal.
Batterers can be admitted to a BIP from several different types of relationships. According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, the vast majority of domestic violence cases reported involve a heterosexual male dating or married to a heterosexual female. A smaller number of cases involve women taking the role of batterer against their male partners. However, many of the female batterer cases were mistakenly identified as mutual aggression. In a small percentage of cases, the perpetrator and victim are of the same sex and are homosexual partners, be they male or female.
There are different theories about the cause of battering and domestic violence. Social and cultural theories hypothesize that social hierarchies, like patriarchal social structures, enable the batterer to fulfill dominance over their domestic partners. Family-based theories tend to emphasize familial interactions and do not place blame on any one individual. Individual-based theories place the blame solely on the batterer, but not for any reason that is within his control.
Types of Programs
The predominant model of BIPs is the Duluth model, which includes classes, role-playing activities, exercises and follow-up to provide a comprehensive behavioral modification for individuals that engage in domestic violence. A few programs with slightly different methods are Emerge and Amend. Amend attempts to confront offenders with the reasons they act out. Emerge educates batterers, teaching them that violence is a learned behavior and as such can be unlearned.
There is significant controversy over the effectiveness of BIPs. Researchers question whether victims are truly safe from their partners, if the batterer's behavior has been successfully modified, as well as whether justice has truly been accomplished; many BIPs are court mandated alternatives to other judicial punishments. The idea that it is important for batterers to be motivated to change is an integral part of each program. Without it, these programs may hold no lasting effects for perpetrators of domestic violence.
- National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Batterer Intervention: Program Approaches and Criminal Justice Strategies
- National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Batter Intervention Programs: Where Do We Go From Here?
- National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women: A Review of Standards for Batterer Intervention Programs
- National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women: Controversies and Recent Studies of Batterer Intervention Program Effectiveness
- Photo Credit Faust image by chaosz from Fotolia.com