Batterer Intervention Programs: Getting to the Root of Domestic Violence

With the help of batterer intervention programs, domestic violence can be stopped.

| October 2013

  • Batterer intervention programs aim to help men learn how to face their problems and stop their violent behaviors.
    Photo By Fotolia/Barrington
  • Read the first-hand accounts of abusive men and their commitment to nonviolence in “Unclenching Our Fists.”
    Cover Courtesy Vanderbilt University Press

Featuring eleven first-person stories of men who committed to end their physical and emotional abuse, Sara Elinoff Acker's Unclenching Our Fists (Vanderbilt University Press, 2013) provides context about research dispute on whether batterer intervention programs work. The men’s names, photos and stories put a face on violence and encourage reform. This excerpt was taken from chapter one.

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Batterer Intervention Programs: Working with Abusive Men

Every Thursday evening, twelve men file into the small, cluttered group room where I work. They sit on a variety of old, mis­matched furniture—second hand couches and folding chairs—coffee cups and slices of pizza in hand. They range in age from their early twenties into their sixties. Some look nervous or preoccupied, others are relaxed and bantering with the men who sit near them. The men span a diverse spectrum of occupations and incomes: a real estate agent sits next to an unemployed roofer; the landscaper sits between a PhD student and a cab driver.

These men’s lives probably never would have overlapped were it not for one thing they have in common: they have all abused the women they loved.

Soon the casual conversation winds down and our group begins. “How did your week go?” my co-facilitator asks. “Did you have any in­cidents of abuse? Were you able to prevent yourself from having any incidents?” One by one the men “check in”—talking about their ef­forts to remain nonviolent during the previous week. One man says he’s worried about going to court on a year-old domestic violence charge. Another discusses a tense email exchange with his ex-partner over child visitation. A third man admits he raised his voice and swore at his partner.

The men are dropping into the work of the evening. Everyone in the room is there because he has been physically violent, intimidating, and threatening, or emotionally and verbally abusive to his partner. The mission of the group is to encourage each man to face his prob­lems and learn how to stop his abuse. The twelve men in our group are not alone. Every week, in an estimated fifteen hundred locations across the country, men are meeting in similar batterer intervention groups.

George Anderso
10/16/2013 4:09:52 PM

It is unfortunate but these programs have no curriculum, no client workbooks and a cleare waste of time.

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