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Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programs: A Proposal for Evidence-Based Standards in the United States


In the United States, the judicial system response to violence between intimate partners, or intimate partner violence (IPV), typically mandates that adjudicated perpetrators complete a batterer intervention program (BIP). The social science data has found that these programs, on the whole, are only minimally effective in reducing rates of IPV. The authors examined the social science literature on the characteristics and efficacy of BIPs. More than 400 studies were considered, including a sweeping, recently conducted survey of BIP directors across the United States and Canada. Results of this review indicate that the limitations of BIPs are due, in large part, to the limitations of current state standards regulating these programs and, furthermore, that these standards are not grounded in the body of empirical research evidence or best practices. The authors, all of whom have considerable expertise in the area of domestic violence perpetrator treatment, conducted an exhaustive investigation of the following key intervention areas: overall effectiveness of BIPs; length of treatment/length of group sessions; number of group participants and number of facilitators; group format and curriculum; assessment protocol and instruments; victim contact; modality of treatment; differential treatment; working with female perpetrators; working with perpetrators in racial and ethnic minority groups; working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) perpetrators; perpetrator treatment and practitioner–client relationships; and required practitioner education and training. Recommendations for evidence-based national BIP standards were made based on findings from this review.

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