Interventions for Batterers
Program Approaches, Program Tensions
In the field of domestic violence, programs that work with the abuser or batterer are often looked upon with suspicion by advocates and service providers who work with victims of domestic violence. What are the goals of these programs? Do they work? Do they address the needs of battered women? Do they stop domestic violence? Aren't they just taking away from funding that could be used for battered women? Most of those who ask such questions are looking for simple answers to a complex social problem.
Even within the field of batterer intervention, the debate over the purpose and effectiveness of programs is not more advanced than that between advocates for victims of domestic violence. Batterer intervention programs argue over goals: Are they meant to provide education to abusers or change their abusive behavior? They argue over intervention techniques: Are lectures with controlled discussions or therapeutic groups more appropriate? They argue over identification of the forces that enable battering to happen: Is it patriarchal culture, poor family communication patterns, history of abuse as a child, or a psychological disorder?
In the early 1970s the battered women's movement began as a demand for recognition of and an end to violence against women in the home and instigated a proliferation of services and reforms to address domestic violence. These groups were by no means monolithic in terms of theory and practice but held varied beliefs, political assumptions, and programmatic goals to help battered women (Schechter, 1982). This rapid development of