CERTIFIED BATTERER INTERVENTION PROGRAMS (CBIPs)

A Summary of Best Practices

 

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“Certified batterer intervention programs (CBIPs) distinguish themselves from uncertified programs and more generic forms of intervention in their emphasis on both abuser accountability and victim safety.”

 

Certified programs are themselves accountable to the larger community and state level organizations that respond to domestic violence.

 

By  2008, 45 of the 50 states  had developed program standards for BIPS.

 

In 2014, what are Louisiana’s program standards that show concern about quality control and victim safety?

 

In 2014, what are St. Tammany Parish’s BIP standards?

 

Program duration ranges widely from 12 sessions in Utah, to 52 sessions in California, New Hampshire, and Washington.  The average duration is 24 - 26 weeks, of  weekly sessions.  Most CBIPs that serve as national training centers offer longer programs.

 

Most state BIP standards define abuse more broadly than  state  laws pertaining to domestic assault.  Most state standards conceptualize battering as “a pattern of coercive control” that typically includes physical, sexual, psychological and economic forms.  Abuse involves more than what is violent or illegal.  Domestic abuse is understood to be a societal and cultural problem. It is not a private problem to be kept behind closed doors.

 

Contact with Victims.  Some form of contact with victims is essential, although the purpose and frequency of such contact varies:  to warn her she is the subject of a threat; to inform her of the abuser’s program enrollment, program completion or termination.  Some contacts ask victims about the abuser’s history of abusive behaviors in their relationship.    Some contacts are for the purpose of determining if the abuser re-offended.

 

Community Linkages.  Certified BIPs demonstrate coordination with organizational systems of accountability such as state or county Domestic Violence Coalitions or a Dept. of Probation.   These BIPS submit to regular program monitoring.  They participate in community-wide responses that emphasize abuser accountability and victim safety.   Personnel receive minimum of 30 hours training in BI.

 

Ideal Community Coordination and Intervention includes:

Advocacy for victims

A 911 priority on domestic violence calls

Aggressive prosecution of offenders

Jail holding of all offenders until the next weekday morning

Prompt revocation of probation status for re-offenses

Probation monitoring

Pre-sentence investigations for DV cases and assessment of dangerousness

Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board

Domestic  Violence  Prevention Programs for high school teens

Specialized programs for the international community & distinct cultural groups

 

Program Philosophy.  Battering is understood to be a “skill set”.   It is intentional and purposeful. Battering may arise from mental illness, anger, dysfunctional upbringing, or substance abuse.  It may be conscious or unconscious; it may be learned behavior. Whatever the origin, battering is motivated by a desire to control the victim.  Despite its outward appearance as irrational, spontaneous, impulsive outbursts, battering behavior is purposeful and it has an underlying logic.

 

Most state standards prohibit approaches that view battering as a psychopathology.  Most state standards require CBIPs to refer to individual treatment those participants who suffered early childhood trauma.

 

Intervention is designed to address attitudes, values, and learned behaviors that are socially reinforced.  Program participants may need referral to mental health services or addiction treatment. Referrals are not typically in lieu of BIP participation.  For some individuals,  CBIPs mandate mental health and/or addiction treatment services to be received concurrently while in BI.

 

Program Goals and Techniques.  BIPs employ a wide variety of techniques and teaching tools to confront abusive behavior and to teach alternatives.  This includes but is not limited to: role-play, skills training, group participation exercises, structured feedback, self-evaluation, homework assignments, positive reinforcement, cognitive behavioral techniques.

 

The group format serves to counter the belief that domestic violence is a private matter that should be of no concern to others.  Restorative Justice seeks to counteract the messages that partner violence is a private matter or that it is strictly a criminal justice matter.  The concept of Restorative Justice seeks to widen the circle of support for women and children who are victims.

 

Abusers typically minimize or deny their abusive behavior.  BIPs expand the definition  of what constitutes violence and abuse.  The abuser “automatically” draws from a repertoire of well-honed abusive behaviors. The abuser will have many explanations for those behaviors.  The abuser will deny  those behaviors are harmful--although the abusive acts are knowingly selected for an intended purpose.

 

Abusers are taught that abusive behavior is not provoked by one’s partner.  Abusive behavior is always a choice by the abuser.  Alternatives to aggression are behaviors that can be operationally defined.  These are actions constructed with the goal of accountability.   Alternatives to aggression are generally defined as an obligation and willingness to accept responsibility for one’s abusive actions.  Alternatives to aggression are actions that reflect the integrity of the person that you want to be. These new actions revolve around how one interacts with wives, girlfriends, children, and others.

 

Refraining from Abuse.  Refraining from violence is both a learning goal for the participant and a requirement for program completion.  Men are taught to self-monitor for negative thoughts and to replace these with more responsible thoughts.

 

Many CBIPs require clients to comply with protective orders.

Many CBIPs inform the Court of any new act of abuse reported by the client.

CBIPs require clients to sign a Waiver of Confidentiality concerning new acts of abuse, as well as program attendance and participation.

 

Court sanctions are an intervention that together with BIP promotes nonviolence.  Research shows it is the combination of batterer education and consistent Court monitoring that seems to result in the most consistent positive results.

 

“Not sanctioning men for non-compliance implicitly excuses domestic violence and colludes with batterers in minimizing the seriousness of their crime.”

 

Coordinated community responses are linked to lower rates of recidivism among offenders.

 

Additional Program Components May Include:

Listening skills training

Empathy training

Effects of violence on children and their mothers

Basic parenting, what is age-appropriate discipline

Promotion of gender and racial equality

Educating international participants about US laws on child abuse and domestic abuse.

Volunteerism & Alternatives to Aggression —give something back to the community

 

Assessment  and  Screening.   Who is likely to re-offend? Predictors of re-assaults are men with prior histories of serious assaults, lengthy criminal record, and severe mental disorder.  Some research indicates battering men who substance abuse  are more likely to re-offend.

 

Methods for risk assessment vary greatly. The better programs routinely seek to assess for risk factors such as suicide risk and depression; past threats to kill; stalking behavior; past use of weapons; sexual violence; and past criminal behavior.  Some programs routinely gather police reports  and  criminal records for each court-mandated referral. 

 

Parenting Education.  It  is essential that BIPs teach men to understand that the violence in the home redefines how the children see them as fathers.   Better BIPs  help these men to understand their children’s perspectives, increase  empathy for their children, and improve the quality of their connection with their children.

                                                                                                                                                                                          

Attention to how children are effected by domestic  violence appears to enhance fathers’ motivations to confront their domestic violence.

 

 

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Certified Batterer Intervention Programs:  History, Philosophies, Techniques, Collaborations, Innovations and Challenges.  David Adams, EdD.  Clinics In Family Practice Vol. 5(1),  May 2003.

 

This summary is based on an article written by David Adams,  EdD that first appeared in Clinics In Family Practice Vol. 5(1),  May 2003.  The published article gives credit to 89 References.  This summary draws upon all cited references.   Dr. Tester summarized and/or highlighted key elements of the above-mentioned article.  Any discrepancies between Adams’ intent and this summary are entirely Dr. Tester’s errors and omissions.