To know whether batterer programs work, one must first decide what work
means. Most studies have used a criterion of complete cessation of violence (Tolman
& Edleson, 1995). Some focus on reducing violence, rather than eliminating
it (e.g., Poynter, 1989), often because it is easier to demonstrate reducing versus
eliminating violence. Some authors (Edleson, 1995; Tolman & Bennett, 1990)
caution against focusing on reduction, however, because a perpetrator could reduce
his violence and still be dangerous to his partner. A few studies have focused
on psychological variables, such as anger and jealousy, and have not actually
measured violence after treatment at all (Saunders & Hanusa, 1986).
Areas Needing Greater Attention
Some providers have argued that greater
attention needs to be paid to threats, other forms of psychological aggression
(Rosenfeld, 1992; Tolman & Edleson, 1995), and sexual aggression. Few studies
have incorporated such measures, however (Harrell, 1991, and Poynter, 1989, are
exceptions). It has also been suggested that measures of increases in positive
and caring behaviors of perpetrators and wellbeing of partners and children
should be included as measures of outcome (Tolman & Edleson, 1995). Few studies
have considered whether a decrease in some kinds of abusive behaviors, but increases
in others, still qualifies as success (Gondoif, 1995). Some authors (Gondolf,
1987b) propose that true success would involve former perpetrators joining the
social movement against partner violence. Anecdotal reports indicate that some
former perpetrators have, in fact, done just that (Common Purpose, 1996).
The relevant timeframe is also an important
consideration (Gondolf, 1995). How long a period of nonviolence counts as success?
Too short a period may not provide an accurate estimate, especially is the perpetrators
are also being monitored by parole officers during that period. Too long a period
may make follow-ups too difficult.
- Battered Women and Their Families. Roberts,
Albert R. Springer Publishing Company: New York. 1984.
The article above contains foundational information. Articles below contain optional updates.
Reflection Exercise #7
The preceding section discussed the pros
and cons of batterer programs. Write three case study examples regarding how you
might use the content of this section in your practice.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION
What criterion do most studies use to determine if a batterer program
is successful? Record the letter of the correct answer the .